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Bismarck's Curl proven to be one of nation's best players

Britta Curl has been one of the best hockey players in North Dakota for the past five years. She finished in the top five in the state in scoring as an eighth grader. She was second in the state as a freshman and she led North Dakota in scoring a...

Bismarck's Britta Curl presures Grand Forks goalie Quinn Kuntz Saturday, Feb.25, 2017, during the North Dakota state hockey tournament championship game at Scheels Arena.David Samson / The Forum
Bismarck's Britta Curl presures Grand Forks goalie Quinn Kuntz Saturday, Feb.25, 2017, during the North Dakota state hockey tournament championship game at Scheels Arena.David Samson / The Forum

Britta Curl has been one of the best hockey players in North Dakota for the past five years.

She finished in the top five in the state in scoring as an eighth grader. She was second in the state as a freshman and she led North Dakota in scoring as a sophomore and a junior.

Curl led the Bismarck Blizzard to state championships in each of the last three years.

Her place in the state was cemented, but in January, she got to see where she stacks up with the rest of the world.

USA Hockey took Curl to the IIHF World Under-18 tournament in Russia, where she played five games against the best in her age group.

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And those watching back in North Dakota found out that she's not just one of the best hockey players in the state, she's among the top high school hockey players in the world.

Curl played on USA's top line, led the tournament with four goals and finished second on the U.S. with eight points. She had two goals and four points in the gold-medal win over Sweden.

"I had high expectations for myself going into the tournament," Curl said. "It definitely boosted my confidence. I thought I was one of the best players and that I could play with everybody."

Curl returned back to North Dakota high school hockey in late January, and this weekend, she'll have her prep farewell at the state tournament in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Curl hopes to cap her career with a fourth-straight state championship before heading to play at Wisconsin, currently the No. 1-ranked college team in the nation.

Her Bismarck Blizzard squad, the No. 2 seed, opens play at 5 p.m. Thursday against seventh-seeded Dickinson in Ralph Engelstad Arena's Olympic Ice Rink.

Although she's only played 15 games this season because of the trip to Russia, Curl is tied for the state lead in goals with 32. She's averaging more than two per game.

"Every time she touches the puck, she's dangerous," Bismarck coach Tim Meyer said. "She's a threat to score every time.

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"She's such a self-driven kid. So many kids, when you coach them, you need to tell them what they need to be working on. She's very smart in terms of how she prepares herself. She's very educated on the game of hockey and everything she does, whether it's hockey, sports or academics. She works so hard at everything. It's a commodity we don't see too often anymore."

Curl, whose parents Bill and Gretchen are from Cando, N.D., uses her 5-foot-8 frame to dominate opponents. She protects the puck well and has the speed to knife through defenses.

"I've been working in the weight room," Curl said about adding strength as a senior. "For me, I try to use my size and strength and vision to find my teammates."

Meyer said that Curl's dominance carries over to practice.

"She makes every other kid step up in their game," Meyer said. "It doesn't matter what we're doing. Every single drill in practice, she tries to be the best. You can't replace that type of attitude on a team."

Curl will aim at winning one more state title before heading off to college.

"I think we just want to play full games and be playing our best hockey this weekend," she said. "Our strength is playing offense-getting 200 feet away from our net and letting that be our best defense. We want to be shooting the puck, not giving up good opportunities for other teams and just be playing our best hockey."

State girls hockey

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The quarterfinal round games of the North Dakota state girls hockey tournament Thursday at Ralph Engelstad Arena's Olympic Rink:

• Manda vs. Fargo North-South, 11 a.m.

• Minot vs. Fargo Davies, 1:30 p.m., approximate

• Bismarck vs. Dickinson, 5 p.m.

• West Fargo vs. Grand Forks, 7:30 p.m., approximate

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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