Welcome back Wilderness Nation! We are closing in on the section tournaments as some of the seeds have already been selected. The sections begin next week and we will not only be looking at some of the more interesting games of the week, but also taking a peek at what we are in store for in the upcoming sections week. This is the best time of the year for High School Hockey as every single game matters for any team hoping to make a run at state, which starts March 4th.
Kicking things off we start in Stillwater where Mahtomedi took on Tartan. Mahtomedi played a very consistent game throughout, really controlling Tartan from the opening drop. While this game may not have been a barn burner, it was a very impressive display of control from Mahtomedi. They outshot Tartan in the first and second period, netting 3 goals on 21 shots through two. Then Tartan made a push in the third, scoring late and putting pressure on Mahtomedi, but was unable to score more than once, giving Mahtomedi a 3-1 win. A team we have not mentioned much of is Le Sueur-Henderson. The reason I bring them up is not only do they have a huge game against Luverne today, but they also have the only player in the state to outscore Luverne’s Chaz Smedsrud. That player is Sam Wenner who has an absurd 54 goals on the season thus far, with 39 assists to put him at 93 points on the season. If Le Sueur-Henderson has any chance to beat Luverne, they need Wenner to continue to do what he has done all season and skate circles around every other team.
Later on we had a scare for the defending single A champs East Grand Forks. They traveled to Thief River Falls and after a fairly dominant, but scoreless first, Thief River Falls came out fast scoring in the first minute of the second. It would remain 1-0 until finally East Grand Forks would tie it up late in the second. Heading into the third the tone was defense as there were only 11 combined shots the entire period. Five minutes into the third Reed Corbid of East Grand Forks scored the go ahead, and what ended up being the game winning goal for the Green Wave. Later on that evening up north in Baudette, Warroad took on Lake of the Woods. Warroad dominated most of this game, allowing only 10 shots through two periods, but still only found themselves with a one goal lead going into the third. The Lake of the Woods goaltending just couldn’t hold up, as Warroad scored their second of the game quickly into the third. Warroad continued to pressure and despite some resilience being shown by Lake of the Woods rounded out the evening with another 2 goals, taking the 4-0 shutout victory. The last game of our week was a very exciting tilt between Breck and St. Thomas Academy. St. Thomas Academy was held in check most of this game, surprising many that Breck was going toe to toe with the juggernaut that is STA. A 1-0 first period lead was all STA could manage. Breck then tied it up just over 6 minutes into the second. Unfortunately for Breck, that seemed to wake up St. Thomas as they really piled on the shots late in the second, finally retaking the one goal lead with just a few minutes to go in the second. In the third Breck came out fast and pushed the pace, hoping to catch up once again and drag this game into the deep waters. Peter Tufto of The Cadets made sure that didn’t happen with a late third period goal giving STA the 3-1 win.
Before we take off for the week, we get a quick glance at some of the number one seeds that have been released for the Section Playoffs that begin next week. It comes as no surprise that Luverne was the number one seed in Section 3A. They have been on a tear and look to continue it on February 19th when they take on the winner of Redwood Valley and Windom Area. In Section 5A Spring Lake Park took the one seed and will take on the winner of Pine City/Rush City and Moose Lake Area. In Section 6A we have Alexandria with the one seed and they will take on the winner of Northern Lakes and Wadena-Deer Creek. In Section 7A we have The Hermantown Hawks taking the one seed, and takes on the winner of Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl and International Falls in their quest to finally get their next State Championship. Last but certainly not least we have the defending champions East Grand Forks taking the one seed. They will take on the winner of Park Rapids and Red Lake Falls.
Well folks that’s a wrap on this week and look forward to next week’s Section tournaments! Come back next week for a recap on the first round of Sections as we work towards the State Tournament.