CHIPPEWA FALLS —The ingredients were always there.
The members of Chippewa Falls boys hockey’s top line, sophomore Isaac Frenette, junior Isaac Lindstrom and senior Jack Schimmel, have been on the same team for years, even with the three all in different grades. But getting them on the same line took serious time.
“We’ve been on the same team since we were little,” Lindstrom said. “Those two were on the same line a lot. I was always the odd man out.”
Lindstrom’s finally cracked the club, and with tremendous results.
“Now we’re just jelling together,” Frenette said.
Frenette, Lindstrom and Schimmel are all in the top 10 in the Big Rivers in scoring as we near the halfway point of conference play and lead the 8-4-1 Cardinals in points by a large margin. The three are the only players on the entire roster with more than nine.
Their proximity to one another one the scoresheet is a different story. Frenette leads the team with 22 points, just one more than Lindstrom. Schimmel is a bit further back in the point total, boasting 16, but is tied with Lindstrom for the team lead with 11 assists. All of them have a four-point game under their belt.
That’s unusual for a Chippewa Falls team that got used to Jordan Steinmetz finishing way ahead of its second-placed scorer.
“They are all pretty close together, which is kind of odd, really,” Chippewa Falls assistant coach Scott Sikkink said. “Usually there’s one guy that separates himself pretty significantly. We haven’t had that. It’s kind of a unique situation.”
And it’s a situation Jack and the pair of Isaacs are perfectly fine with, especially considering a goal from any of them was probably set up by another member of the line.
“No one’s selfish,” Schimmel said. “It’s just fun when we click. We all know each other pretty well, playing together for so long. We know where each other is going to be and we’ve got each other’s backs. It’s just fun.”
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t keeping an eye on the statistical leader board. That adds extra motivation to finish chances.
“The point total is so similar, it keeps it really competitive and keeps us trying to one-up the other,” Lindstrom said.
After all, some serious bragging rights are on the line.
“It keeps it competitive, but an assist is a point, too, so no one is afraid to give up the puck,” Schimmel said.
The trio’s production has powered the Cardinals to a tie with Memorial for second place in the Big Rivers five games into conference play. They’ll have a chance to jump up to the top of the standings on Tuesday when the team hosts first-placed North.
“Those guys have been offensive leaders for us,” Sikkink said. “They have a lot of really good small habits. When they play together as a three-way group, they are awfully hard to compete against. It doesn’t matter if the other team has good D or a good defensive forward matchup. They do a great job when they’re working hard together to overcome those obstacles.”
First through fourth in the conference standings is separated by just four points. While North made a statement earlier this week with a 5-1 win against Memorial, Chippewa Falls can take pride in currently slotting ahead of the two teams that have served as a glass ceiling for the Cardinals for years, the Old Abes and Hudson.
Chi-Hi sees an opportunity, and its stars make it realistic.
“We’re not in a rebuilding stage anymore,” Schimmel said. “We’re in a winning mindset. We have it all now. We just need to put it out.”