Wildcats and Vikings Advance to Section Semifinals
It was a tough night for East Central Minnesota hockey fans last night at the Chisago Lakes Arena as the Pine City Area Dragons and the Mora/Milaca Mustangs both saw their seasons come to a close. The North Branch Vikings played well and moved on to another section semifinal.
#2 North Branch 5
#7 Mora-Milaca 1
The 5:00 game pitted the #2 seed North Branch Vikings against #7 Mora/Milaca. North Branch got on the board right away scoring a goal just three minutes into the first period. Then just a couple minutes later they added another and this game looked like it was going to get out of hand quickly. What actually happened was the exact opposite as Gavin Orr found an answer less than a minute later putting the Mustangs right back into the game. The first period came to a close with Mora-Milaca trailing just 2-1.
The Mustangs came out firing on all cylinders in the second period and had North Branch on the ropes for a long time. They weren't able to get past the skilled goalie play of Jake Turek. The second period was scoreless til North Branch knocked in two goals in the last three minutes to send it to 4-1 to end the period.
Mora-Milaca came out strong in the third as well but still weren't able to put one past Turek. North Branch added an empty netter to close up the game and send them to another section semi-final. The Vikings will host #3 Princeton on Saturday night.
#4 Chisago Lakes 6
#5 Pine City 1
The second game of the night was supposed to be one of the better games of the Section 5A playoffs with two very good teams matched up together that played two very close games in the regular season. The product on the ice was polar opposite of what everyone expected with Chisago Lakes utterly dominating play. The first period saw the Wild Cats controlling possession almost the entire period, but Alex Laven stood on his head and made several saves that kept the Dragons in the game. It took 13 minutes but Thomas Overgaard finally found the back of the net for the Wildcats giving them a 1-0 lead at the end of the first.
Unfortunately the second period was more of the same for Pine City letting in three goals in the second period. They were able to get one back on a breakaway goal by George Miller giving them life heading into the third period trailing 4-1.
Chisago Lakes put the game away early though getting their 5th goal just five minutes into the third. Senior Logan Belau came into the game for Pine City and closed out a strong final 12 minutes between the pipes.
Chisago Lakes moved on the section semifinals and will play Monticello in a rematch of last year's semifinal game. The Dragons end the year on a sour note, but the Dragons will be proud to hang another Conference Championship banner in the Civic Center after another solid season.
Both Section 5A Semifinal games are at 5:30 on Saturday.
Photo Credit to John Olson