BY DAVE PEDERSEN
Playing in a new girls hockey section is going as well as hoped when players from Rockford, Delano and Buffalo advanced to the Section 8AA semifinals.
The game against Sartell-Sauk Rapids (19-4-3) was played Tuesday after this issue went to press. The winner moves to the title game against either top seed Roseau (14-12) or River Lakes (15-9-1) from the St. Cloud area at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14 at a neutral site.
The Bison improved to 13-12-1 after a 5-0 win over Bemidji to open the playoffs in a new section. The Bison hoped to have an easier go in the playoffs when no longer having to go against some of the top teams in the state, including tree-time defending state champ Minnetonka.
The local squad scheduled non-conference games against many of the state powers, which shows in the record. The high No. 2 seed showed the team was competitive in those games. The same can be true for Roseau, whose record also does not reflect the No. 1 seed it received.
“If we win, whether we face Roseau or St. Cloud, they are also good teams,” said coach Ray Dahlof before facing River Lakes and a strong goalie. “Roseau matches up much like our team, gritty with good team speed, plus solid defenders and goaltending.”
Against Bemidji, Madi Jewell netted two first period goals to spark the offense. Ashley Effertz and Abby Halluska each scored a goal in the second period and Lindsay Roethke scored in the third. Goalie Kendra Carlson stopped all 15 shots faced for the shutout. Kristen Olson added two assists.
The section champ advances to the state tournament starting Wednesday, Feb. 19 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The semifinals would be Friday, Feb. 21 and title game at noon, Saturday, Feb. 22. The tournament will be seeded.
The Delano-Rockford boys hockey team lost 4-3 to Mound-Westonka and 4-1 to Holy Family Catholic last week. Goals against MW were scored by Ben Meyers, Justin Oja and Chet Halonen. Goalie Brett Norling made 33 saves.
Holy Family out-shot Delano-Rockford by 44 to 17. It did not help taking 15 minutes in penalties. Meyers scored the lone goal and Norling made 40 saves.
The team is at St. Cloud Cathedral, 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13 and at Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato Friday, Feb. 14 to end the regular season.