Forgive Minnesota Wilderness coach Tim Madsen if he feels a little bit like Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day." The playoff alarm clock has just gone off after two games of the team's second round NAHL playoff series with the Aberdeen Wings, and his team is just where it was at the same stage of Round One — tied 1-1 in games with home ice advantage lost. But the Wilderness rallied to defeat Brookings in five games in the first round, so there's both precedent and reason for confidence. Come to think of it, that was the mood two weeks ago as well. So, is it Groundhog Day?
“We should be able to put a few runs on the board but credit Moose Lake, they just beat us,” he said. “(The late St. Scholastica coach) John Baggs said you should play the game and not the team. We didn’t do that.”
'"We're young," Colello said. "But, we have been pretty good offensively and that's been enough."
Still the Rebels, who field only two seniors, are showing signs of growth. "It's been an interesting season," Niedzielski said. "We are playing better baseball lately, starting to make fewer mental mistakes and we're starting to hit our groove. But it's been a challenge."
After winning game five against Brookings Monday, the Wilderness will keep their home ice advantage for the second round of playoffs, as fourth-place Aberdeen stunned division champion Minot in four games in the first round. The schedule is the same as for round one: the first two games are Friday and Saturday night in Cloquet with games three and four scheduled for next weekend in Aberdeen. If a Game Five is necessary it will be played Monday, May 8, in Cloquet.
In Moose Lake-Willow River, coach Brad Hubred has 17 golfers in grades 7-12: six girls and 11 boys, three of whom are seniors. The Rebels have a bit of an advantage in that they didn't graduate any seniors from last year's team so everyone is back.
But if it's half-full, it's because the Wilderness won Game One 6-3 on a sheet where they lost three of four games to Brookings during the season — and now head on the road, where they won three of four meetings against the Blizzard during the regular season. "That's a great way to put it," coach Tim Madsen said.
Tondryk is still pleased with his team's start. "They have been working really hard; they are coming together as a team," he said. "I hope that will lead to wins, but it's fun to coach kids who are really present, who are taking it all in, playing what we are teaching, and now we get into game situations where they can run with what they learn. It's a very good group of young ladies."
We are very familiar with both teams, so to have it settled is a good thing." Madsen expects a high level of energy from his young players. "We've seen it all week in practice and it will be there on Friday from top to bottom on the roster," he said. "It's a great time of year, exciting to see all the work you've done throughout the season put to the test in the playoffs."
In Moose Lake-Willow River, coach Tony Andres and his athletes are coming off a successful season. Fourteen Rebel boys went to sections last season, seven of which were graduated seniors.