Bluejackets open against Apollo: Mark Kissner grew up skating in the Park of Cottage Grove youth system, starting when he was eight years old. Backyard hockey was also a big thing in the Kissner house, and he brings that lifelong love of hockey to his new role as Cambridge-Isanti boys hockey head coach this season.
“We had a pond at our house, and my two older brothers and I were on that a lot. We had a game with tennis balls that we’d play every night that really honed our shooting skills,” recalled Kissner.
When Woodbury came into existence in School District 883, the school lines essentially split his good Park team in half. So the family decided to enroll Mark into the Hill-Murray hockey program from 1977-80. His three years on varsity saw the Pioneers reach State each year, with his senior year’s team advancing to the championship game against Grand Rapids.
“We got second-place that year. Grand Rapids had a goaltender named Jon Casey, who, of course, went on to play for the North Stars,” said Kissner. “My first shot, I scored on him– a backhander to the upper corner. They only won 2-1. The State tourneys were great memories– a lot of fun!”
Kissner went on to play college hockey at Mankato State. Since then, he has stayed in the game by coaching at St. Francis H.S. and in youth hockey for both the St. Francis and Cambridge-Isanti associations.
“Speed, passing and systems work will be areas we will stress this season on the high school team,” he continued. “I coached probably 90 percent of this team through the CIHA programs. We did a lot of the systems and styles on the youth teams, transitioning into the high school program with the same styles.”
Kissner, who lives near Harris and runs his own construction company, holds a strong, emotional bond to hockey.
“My dad is a huge State tournament fan. That was a whole goal for my brothers and me was to get to State for him. The reason I keep going with the game is what I learned from my Park youth hockey coach, Mike Lysne. He kept saying, ‘You’ve got to coach. You’ve to keep giving back to keep this sport alive.’ So that’s kind of why I do it, but I also just love the game of hockey.”
St. Cloud Apollo 5, Bluejackets 4 OT
The C-I boys opened the season Nov. 24 with a home game against St. Cloud Apollo. The Eagles’ Jared Christen had the natural hat trick to begin the game with his team ahead 3-0. Bluejacket senior Mitch Renstrom put his team on the board with a goal a minute before the first period ended.
Goals by Renstrom and Finnish exchange student Veeti Uuttera kept C-I within 4-3 after two periods. Elliott Simon’s power play goal knotted the score early in the third period. The Eagles then won it on a Paul Kenney goal 1:21 into overtime. Frank Maslow turned away 40 shots in the Bluejacket nets.
Duluth East 11, Bluejackets 1
The beasts from East stormed to a Nov. 27 victory over visiting Cambridge-Isanti in an early-season matchup of Section 7AA teams. Maslow was active in goal with 40 more saves in the game.
The Greyhounds led 3-0 after the first period and were up 5-0 in the second when E. Simon scored C-I’s lone goal on the power play off a T.J. Pagel assist. Tim Schultz finished up in the nets with six more saves for the Jackets.
The Bluejackets next travel back to Duluth for a Saturday matinee game at Denfeld. The road stretch continues with a Dec. 4 game at North Branch.