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Laker icemen play short in regular-season finale victory

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The Detroit Lakes boys' hockey team called it a wrap on its regular season schedule and also got some extra penalty killing practice to boot Thursday inside Kent Freeman Arena.

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The Lakers were called for seven penalties in their 3-1 victory over Red Lake Falls, including a five-minute major in the final 5:03 of the third period, as DL held on for the win.

It was a good warm-up for the Section 8-1A playoffs, which start for the Lakers Friday at 6 p.m. in Warroad against Crookston.

Up 2-1, senior forward Jedd Harms took it upon himself to seal the victory after first-line teammate Joe Schiller was called for a five-minute slashing major, which would put the Lakers one man short up to the final three seconds of the game.

Harms instead turned lemons into lemonade by going coast-to-coast with the puck, beating two defensemen, putting his shot on goal and picking up his own rebound for the score and the decisive 3-1 lead with 1:44 remaining in regulation.

"Jedd took the bull by the horns, beat the defense and the goalie to seal the deal," said DL head coach Jason Vold. "It was a big penalty kill those last five minutes of the game."

The Lakers (18-7-0) were in a penalty-killing mood all night, as they were called for three consecutive infractions in the second period, but killed all, while scoring a power play goal of their own.

Schiller notched the first score of the game after a scoreless first period by taking a long pass from defenseman Kyle Danner. Schiller would break in the open and easily fake out Eagle goalie Aaron Thibert for the 1-0 lead. DL goalie Mike Haggart was credited with his second point of the season with the other assist.

RLF would tie the score 2:20 into the third after heavy traffic in the front of Haggart ended with an Aaron Myhre goal.

But second-line forward Mox Gunderson broke the tie 11:11 into the final period with DL's second power play strike after deflecting a Grabow shot and picking up the rebound. Danner was credited his second assist of the night, as defenseman Nick Grabow also picked up an assist.

DL had strong special teams, scoring two power play goals and killing all seven penalties.

"The kids just need to play with more discipline," Vold said of the over-inflated amount of penalties. "I told them, if they do that against Crookston (in the opening round of the playoffs), they will eventually score."

Vold did praise his team for having a good regular-season closer against an RLF team which showed a great amount of improvement.

"They are a much better team than the first time we saw them," Vold added. "We gained some more confidence heading into the playoffs and it's always good to win your last home game, especially for the seniors."

The Lakers defended their home ice well this year, going 8-1 inside Freeman Arena.

DL will open the Section 8-1A playoffs as the No. 6 seed. They open against No. 3 Crookston. The two teams have split two games during the season, with each winning its home games.

"Crookston will be hungry and they will not overlook us," Vold said. "They only lost to us, Warroad and Thief River Falls (in the section). But we know we can beat them and we know they can beat us.

"It will be a hard-nose played hockey game."

One key will be the play of Haggart, since a hot goalie in the playoffs can bring a team far. Excluding his RLF game, where he picked up 23 saves, Haggart finished second in the section with 90.7 save percentage. And Vold is confident in his senior goalie.

"Mike knows if he is the hot goalie in the section tournament, we can go far," the DL coach stated. "And I feel he'll be a hot goalie. I believe in these boys."

This will also be Vold's first stint as a head coach in a section playoff atmosphere. It's a consideration he isn't concerned about, either.

"I've been an assistant coach on teams which have won section championships," Vold said. "I'm ready to go and not nervous. We are going to play like we have nothing to lose."

The Lakers are in the bottom bracket with No. 2 Warroad, which will play the winner of No. 7 Lake of the Woods and No. 10 Bagley. If DL is victorious, they will face Warroad or LOW/Bagley.

The top bracket consists of No. 1 Thief River Falls against the winner of No. 8 Kittson Central and No. 9 Red Lake Falls and No. 4 Park Rapids versus No. 5 East Grand Forks.

All the section games are played in Warroad. The semifinals will be Saturday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. for the upper bracket and Monday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. for the lower bracket.

The Section 8-1A championship will be Thursday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m.

Laker results

Red Lake Falls at Detroit Lakes, Thursday, Feb. 16.

Eagles 0 0 1 - 1

Lakers 0 1 2 - 3

First period -- No scoring.

Second period -- 1. DL, PP Joe Schiller (Kyle Danner, Mike Haggart) 2:31.

Third period -- 2. RLF, Aaron Myhre (Chirs Knott, John Murphy) 2:20; 3. DL, Mox Gunderson (Nick Grabow, Danner) 11:11; 4. DL, SH Jedd Harms (UA) 13:16.

Saves -- DL (Mike Haggart) 4 7 11 - 23...RLF (Aaron Thibert) 7 10 6 - 23.

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Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN. 
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