MARQUETTE - The Marquette City Insurance Sentinels girls 16-and-under hockey team faces a tough task in pool play later this week.
But so will the other teams in its pool at the 12-team USA Hockey Girls 16U National Championships being held in Amherst, N.Y.
In an unusual format, the Sentinels don't play the teams in its own three-team pool; instead, Marquette will face each of the teams in another pool, with the two best records from its pool advancing to the quarterfinals.
The Sentinels, despite a 24-20-4 overall record and 20-15-2 mark against qualifying teams, is ranked No. 9 in the country at the website MYHockeyRankings.com, at least in part because its schedule is considered the second-toughest of the top 50 teams listed.
Each of the dozen teams at the nationals is ranked in this listing, including fellow Pool D teams Carolina Lightning of Raleigh, N.C., which is No. 17 with a 12-9-1 record; and the Mid Fairfield Stars of western Connecticut, No. 26 with a 4-14-4 mark.
Every team plays one game each on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Pool A vs. Pool B and Pool C vs. Pool D.
Marquette's Pool C opposition is provided by the Potsdam, N.Y., Ice Storm at 12:20 p.m. Wednesday, the Princeton, N.J., Tiger Lillies at 2:55 p.m. Thursday and the Boch/Charles River, Mass., Blazers at 12:20 p.m. Friday.
Potsdam is ranked No. 8 with a 8-2-1 record, Princeton is No. 40 at 6-5-4 and Boch/Charles River is No. 3 at 17-2.
Quarterfinals are set for 10:10 and 10:25 a.m. at four rinks on Saturday, with the semifinals later in the day at 4:45 p.m. The championship game is at 10 a.m. Sunday.
All of the Sentinels' games will be broadcast by radio station WUPZ, 94.9 FM, The Bay, with Nick Boyle calling the action.