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Team Copper Country sweeps through showcase tourney

The Team Copper Country 18U AA hockey team poses after defeating Green Bay on Oct. 11 in Green Bay, Wis. (Courtesy Photo/Team Copper Country)

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Team Copper Country swept all four games last weekend in Green Bay.

The 18U AA hockey team beat the Chippewa Steel 3-2, Marquette 4-1, Chicago Bruins 7-3 and Green Bay 3-2 in a shootout during a showcase tournament.

Team Copper Country coach Jeff Mikesch said Houghton High School goaltenders Jimmy Pietila and Matthew Ryynanen played “stellar” throughout the weekend. Austin Salani, Nathan Erva, Gaborik Carlson, Sully Rajala, Mason Mikesch, Cam Markham and Calvin Heinonen led Team CC offensively, Mikesch said.

The team enters the weekend with a 10-2 record in its seventh season at the 18U AA level. It’s been a challenging season as the COVID-19 season upended the sports world and has repeatedly disrupted high school athletics.

“To say this season for Team CC has been a challenge is an understatement on many levels,” Mikesch said. “We knew going into the season that we would encounter lots of travel to find meaningful competition and would need to juggle schedules to accomodate many of our athletes being standouts on the gridiron for their respective high schools. The COVID situation compounded the process with game cancellations and an unexpected impact ont he level of competition displayed by our opponents.

“We faced a few opponents that fielded much stronger teams than they may have otherwise, due to traditional fall programs like the Wisconsin Elite Hockey League and the Minnesota Elite Hockey League being put on hiatus in this era of the coronavirus,” Mikesch added.

Mikesch said an example of the high-level competition came in the form of the Chippewa Steel, a team in the North American Prospects Hockey League and is an affiliate of the NAHL Chippewa Steel.

“Our victory over Chippewa is a testament to the level of talent that our Copper Country hockey players possess,” Mikesch said.

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