Hockey playoff season is here!The hockey playoffs are in sight for three area teams, one of which has already clinched its league championship.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
The hockey playoffs are in sight for three area teams, one of which has already clinched its league championship.
The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls tied Forest Lake for the top seed in the Section 7AA tournament, but a head-to-head loss against that team forced them into the No. 2 section seed.
The ’Jacks (14-8-2) will host seventh-seed St. Francis-North Branch (6-17-1) tonight at Northwoods Credit Union Arena.
The Saints are led in scoring by Kallie Wagner (12 goals, nine assists, 21 points), Katie Sigfrinius (7/2/9) and Jessica St. Marie (3/5/8). Goaltender Dakotah Bullen (6-17-1, 3.59, .875) has played every minute of the season in nets for the Saints.
The seeds, in order, are Forest Lake, Cloquet-Esko-Carlton, Elk River, Grand Rapids-Greenway, Duluth, Cambridge and St. Francis-North Branch.
The winner of tonight’s game will play either Elk River or Cambridge on Saturday at noon at the home of the higher seed. The section final will be Thursday, Feb. 14, at Fogerty Arena in Spring Lake Park.
Meanwhile, the Moose Lake Area girls earned the third seed in the Section 7A tournament and a home game with sixth-seed Eveleth-Gilbert tonight at Riverside Arena.
The Golden Bears (6-17-0) beat the Rebels 4-2 in the season’s third game at the Eveleth Hippodrome on Nov. 27.
Eveleth-Gilbert, which enters the section playoffs having lost seven of its last 10 games, is led in scoring by Sam Mugge (13 goals, 4 assists, 17 points), and Ashleigh Seabrook (8/4/12). Kora Bonicatto (6-17-0, 4.08, .893) has played all but seven minutes of the season in goal.
Meanwhile, the news is much brighter for the Minnesota Wilderness junior team, which has already wrapped up its third straight SIHJL regular season championship with 13 games remaining on the schedule.
The Wilderness (40-3-0-1, 36-3-0-1 in league) have not lost a game in regulation time since Oct. 24. They will have two wins already in the bag, both forfeit victories over the Duluth Clydesdales, who suspended operations last month.
All five SIJHL clubs will make the playoffs this year, with the fourth- and fifth-placed teams playing in for the right to face the Wilderness in a best-of-seven series running March 21 through April 3. The finalists will meet for the Bill Salonen Cup in another best-of-seven series April 4-20.
The league winner will then represent the SIJHL in the four-team Dudley Hewitt Cup championship held April 30 to May 4 in North Bay, Ontario.