Blaine and Maple Grove elected to play both Northwest Suburban Conference contests at neutral sites.
The first meeting came Dec. 26 at the Sports Authority Holiday Hockey Classic, organized by Benilde-St. Margaret’s at the St. Louis Park Recreation Center.
Blaine bounced back from its first loss of the season, a 3-1 score against No. 3 ranked (Class A) East Grand Forks Dec. 13, with a pair of 11-0 Northwest Suburban Conference wins against Coon Rapids Dec. 14 and Robbinsdale Armstrong Dec. 19.
When Nick Bjugstad, the former Blaine High School graduate and Gopher turned Florida Panthers rookie centerman, took to the ice ahead of his first National Hockey League game last April, he noticed a familiar face warming up across the rink in fellow Blaine graduate, Matt Hendricks, then playing with the Washington Capitals.