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First line setting tone for Marlins with state ahead

Members of the Mitchell Marlins first line, from left, Jacob Cersosimo, Jordan Grosdidier and Jacob Rice take a break during hockey practice Tuesday at the Mitchell Activities Center. (Aaron Saunders/Republic)

Jordan Grosdidier, Jacob Rice and Jacob Cersosimo have been on the same line for the last 10 years as Mitchell Marlins.

Since that time, they have gone through name changes like the “oreo line,” the “red-liners” and now, the “pink slips.” The trio gets the name “pink slips” because they wear pink jerseys in practice, which they found one night while searching the Mitchell Activities Center.

While the names have changed, the group has stayed the same and continued to push each other to get better. This weekend at the state boys’ varsity hockey tournament in Brookings, the “pink slips” will be counted on to bring their offensive potency as the squad’s first line.

The Marlins, who are the sixth seed heading into the state tournament, begin at 9 a.m. Friday against the Oahe Capitals. Mitchell split with Oahe this season, dropping a 1-0 game in December and earning a 4-2 victory in January.

“We have been on the same line since we started playing,” said Cersosimo, a junior. “We have really good chemistry, and we know where each other are going to be at all times on the ice. It makes things a lot easier for us because we know each other well.”

Cersosimo leads the Marlins in goals, assists and points, with 14, 11 and 25, respectively. Grosdidier is second on the team in all three categories with 11 goals, seven assists and 18 points, while Rice has three goals, two assists and five points.

“I think Jake (Cersosimo) has always been the leading goal scorer, and me and Jake Rice have always stayed the same,” Grosdidier, a junior at Ethan High School, said. “It is kind of like a battle. We always try to be the goal scorer on our line because it makes our whole team better and it makes each of us better.”

Freshman Matt Muth and junior Alex Murtha have also contributed on the offensive end this season. Muth has scored six goals, while Murtha has five goals and five assists.

Marlin coach John Lord said his team has to rely on the veteran goaltending of senior Weston Gauger and junior Tate Sutherland. Both goalies have played just over 400 minutes this season. Gauger has faced 212 shots on goal and recorded 177 saves with a 83.5 save percentage, while Sutherland has faced 263 shots on goal and recorded 223 saves with a 84.8 save percentage.

“When they are on their games, it is tough to get anything done on our defensive unit,” Lord said. “Offensively, we have three lines that are very capable of putting the puck in the net. We rely pretty heavily on younger players to get the job done. They are pretty good shooters and they have good speed.”

Lord said the favorite heading into the tournament is Brookings, followed closely by Sioux Falls 2.

“If the guys are ready to go we can absolutely be a championship team,” Lord said. “We are certainly a talented enough team. We just have to do a very good job of attacking the puck and taking it to the other team.”