by DAVE PEDERSEN
SUN PRESS Newspapers
The faster the better will be the motto for the Delano-Rockford boys hockey team entering the Section 2A tournament this week.
“It will be real important for us to play the game with tempo in section play,” says coach Steve Brown. “When we play fast, we are at our best. Obviously, there are no guarantees when it comes to playoff hockey, but we do like our chances in the section.”
It was full speed ahead for Delano-Rockford last week when outscoring two teams by a total of 15-0. After a 7-0 shutout over Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato, the team blanked Hutchinson 8-0.
The first section game Delano-Rockford, the No. 3 seed, is against either Chaska or Richfield, 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21 at Parade Ice Gardens. The semifinal game would be 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, with the title game 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28. Breck is the top seed with Mound-Westonka second.
Seven different players found the net against Litchfield/DC including Steve Lewis, Justin Oja, Mike Krueger, Adam McLain, Grant Prinsen, Eric Ylitalo and Jack Nelson. Aaron Gangroth made 21 saves in the shutout.
Gangroth also made 21 save when holding Hutchinson scoreless. Ylitalo netted four goals and one assist. Krueger scored twice, with one goal each by Nate Meyers and Chet Halonen. Prinsen had three assists and Oja four.
Girls fall 5-1
The area girls hockey team lost 5-1 to Minnetonka in the Section 6AA semifinals.
“Our girls played their hearts out, but it wasn’t enough to match the Skippers’ depth and speed,” said coach Ray Dahlof about facing the two-time defending state champ and current No. 1-ranked team.
Emily Varner’s goal cut the Minnetonka lead to 2-1 after one period. Dahlof said the Skippers put on a lot of offensive pressure, but goalie Lindsey Hartfiel was on her game, stopping 49 of the 54 shots.
Dahlof adds how Minnetonka scored a couple of “lucky” goals. The Skippers added a power play goal to take a 4-1 lead after two periods and then scored just 18 seconds into the third period.
“We really played hard and the girls left everything on the ice,” adds Dahlof. “We kept our heads up after the loss. They are a formidable team with seven Division 1 college players. This is the third consecutive year we have lost to them in the section semifinals.”
The Bison, a team that includes players from Delano, Rockford and Buffalo, played without two key players due to injuries, senior captain Katie Vatnsdal and Ashley Effertz.
Graduating seniors are Lindsey Hartfiel, Katie Rooney, Emily Varner, Mackenzie Rixe and Sam Noetzelman. The team won a share of the Mississippi 8 conference title, won a program record 20 games and finished the season ranked eighth in the state.
A major accomplishment was in defeating the No. 1 ranked teams in both Class AA and A, as well as beating five other top 10 teams.
“We put together the toughest schedule we ever had to challenge this team and they responded with an excellent season, gaining respect around the entire state,” said Dahlof. “These seniors have been in the high school program for five years and have set the bar high for future Bison teams.”
Contact Dave Pedersen at [email protected]