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Connor Hurley, bottom, hopes to help Edina make a return trip to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul this season. Photo by Adam Crane

Connor Hurley is back in school and hating bio (according to his Twitter feed).
 
Shane Gersich’s shoulder is fully healed and feeling fine.
 
Two of Minnesota’s most coveted college recruits have been green lighted for the start of the season.
 
This is important news, because, in a fortuitous bit of scheduling, Edina’s Hurley and Holy Family Catholic’s Gersich will go head to head when the season kicks off on Friday, Nov. 23.
 
Talk about a high-profile opener. Dozens of scouts -- most all of them wearing black jackets emblazoned with college and NHL logos -- will converge on the Plymouth Ice Center for the 5 p.m. puck drop between the Hornets and Fire in the semifinals of the Wayzata’s annual Turkey Trot tournament.
 
Hurley, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound junior forward, scored 26 goals and 32 points in 30 games last season for the Hornets, who lost a thrilling 3-2 state Class 2A quarterfinal matchup to eventual champion Benilde-St. Margaret’s.
 
He was among the scoring leaders in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League this fall before joining the U.S. National Team Development Program’s Under-18 team as an injury replacement. He finished his stint with the team based in Ann Arbor, Mich., last weekend by helping it win the Four Nations Cup. 

Shane Gersich (9) and Holy Family Catholic couldn't get past Benilde-St. Margaret's in last year's Section 6AA playoffs. Photo by Helen Nelson

Gersich, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound sophomore forward, scored 30 goals and added 30 assists in 21 games last season for Holy Family Catholic. He missed several games in January to play for the U.S. in an overseas junior tournament. Gersich starred for the U.S. this summer in a tournament in the Czech Republic, but was knocked out of the event with a shoulder injury. 
 
The same injury flared up during the Elite League season (he and Hurley both played for Team Southwest) and he sat out the final several weeks of the season.
 
“He’s been overseas twice in the last nine months,” Holy Family Catholic coach Noel Rahn said about Gersich, the nephew of legendary Roseau stars Neal, Aaron and Paul Broten. “He played in Rochester, New York and Ann Arbor this summer. He sat idle a lot of the fall. Which is good.”
 
Gersich did take the time to do some traveling in recent weeks. He used his down time to check out Division I college programs such as Wisconsin, Minnesota-Duluth, North Dakota and Minnesota.
 
“I think he’ll hold out as long as he can so he can get a better picture of the layout,” Rahn said about Gersich's pending college committment. “He’s only a sophomore, and a lot of things can happen to a program in three years.”

Hurley also has a long list of Division I colleges lining up to offer scholarships (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Minnesota-Duluth, Michigan State, Ohio State Denver and Nebraska-Omaha are among the suitors).
 
Hurley was going to spend the run-up to the high school season visiting colleges, but his longer-than-expected stint with the Under-18 National team put those plans on hold.
 
Now, according to Hurley’s father, Tom, the focus has shifted solely on helping Edina win a state championship.
 
Holy Family Catholic, which was bounced from the playoffs in the Section 6AA quarterfinals by Benilde-St. Margaret’s, is looking to establish itself as a big-time program -- like Edina. That means it needs a win over a marquis program -- like Edina
 
As it happens, Rahn knows Edina well. He played for the Hornets’ 1988 state championship team.
 
“The one thing I thought we lacked in the Benilde-St. Margaret’s game was big-game experience,” Rahn said. “It was our first time playing an elite AA team. We were a little too nervous and a little afraid.” 
 
“I’m more comfortable knowing these guys have played against top talent. They don’t fear them as much. That experience is so vital. These guys want to make some noise this year, and I said to do it you have to beat the best.”
 
The Hub will also cover the Wayzata Turkey Trot’s second semifinal, a 7:30 p.m. matchup between Maple Grove and host Wayzata.
 
 
First puck drop is in Hibbing

The season officially starts at 4 p.m. on Friday with Little Falls’ game at Hibbing.
 
The Hub will be there, as Tim Kolehmainen will provide live coverage of the matchup between state Class 1A tournament hopefuls (Little Falls is ranked 10th and Hibbing 11th in the preseason Associated Press poll).
 
The game features Hibbing senior sniper Adam Johnson, a Minnesota-Duluth recruit, and Little Falls standout goaltender Michael Stumpf, among other standouts.
 
Kolehmainen will complete his opening-night doubleheader by heading to Duluth for the 7:30 p.m. game between Mounds View and Duluth Denfeld.

Edina's Connor Hurley recently helped the U.S. National Under-18 team win the Four Nations tournament title. Photo courtesy of USA Hockey

2012-13 Season Begins

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Opening Night Coverage

Breakdown Sports' Tim Kolehmainen and the Hub's Loren Nelson each will be covering two games on Friday, Nov. 23  as the season opens with 15 games. Coverage will include live commentary, live scoring, photo slideshows, game recaps, three stars and feature stories.

Time Teams Location
4 p.m. Little Falls vs. Hibbing Hibbing
5 p.m. Holy Family Catholic vs. Edina Plymouth
7:30 p.m. Mounds View vs. Duluth Denfeld Duluth
7:30 p.m. Maple Grove vs. Wayzata Plymouth

2012-13 Season Schedules

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