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Laker boys' hockey lands No. 4 seed in Section 6-1A playoffs

Laker junior forward Tanner Lane (8) flings a shot from the point during a home game in Kent Freeman Arena earlier this season. Lane finished the regular season as Minnesota's leading scorer, with 90 points.

There weren't any surprises when the Section 6-1A seedings came out, as the Detroit Lakes boys' hockey team was voted the No. 4 seed.

The Lakers (15-8-2) will host No. 5 Willmar (13-10) Tuesday inside the Kent Freeman Arena, starting at 7 p.m.

The two teams played earlier this season during the Fergus Falls Holiday Tournament, where DL prevailed 4-2.

DL junior forward Tanner Lane finished as the state's leading scorer with 90 points, including 49 goals and 41 assists.

Lane scored twice against the Cardinals in the 4-2 victory, while senior goalie Andrew Friesen picked up the win in net.

"I feel we match-up well with Willmar," said DL head coach Chris Denardo. "They have a good goaltender and they have a very talented first line. If we can get the right line match-ups, we will be fine."

Lane should be expecting a lot of attention from the Cardinal defensemen, especially after his two-goal performance against them, coupled with the fact he is the state's leading scorer.

"I'm sure they will gravitate towards Tanner," Denardo said. "That should open some opportunities for his teammates, though."

First line forward senior Alex Phelps finished the regular season with 56 points (21 goals and 35 assists), while forward Nate Baker netted 44 points, with 22 goals and an equal number of assists.

Denardo switched up his first two lines a little to create more scoring balance, when he moved sophomore forward Alex Mason up to the top line and Baker onto the second.

It has created two strong lines, while junior forward Andy Schupp has contributed nicely from the third line with 25 points, including 16 goals and nine assists.

"We have six forwards with 20-plus points, so that's important having that balanced scoring," Denardo said. "The second line of Baker, Brett Provo (20 points) and Nate Ginnaty (15) is starting to gel more as a unit.

"We'll need them providing more goals and if that works out, we'll be in good shape for the playoffs."

Friesen has also logged in a solid season, posting an 89.2 percent save ratio.

"I'm pretty confident in Andrew for the playoffs, he's playing near the top of his game," the DL coach added.

The Lakers are in No. 1 seed Alexandria's (18-5-1) bracket. The Cardinals will host the winner between No. 8 St. Cloud Apollo and No. 9 Morris/Benson.

In the bottom bracket, No. 7 Northern Lakes traveled to No. 8 Prairie Centre Saturday -- with the winner going to No. 2 Sartell Tuesday.

The No. 6 Little Falls Flyers will host No. 11 Wadena-Deer Creek, with the victor going to No. 3 Fergus Falls Tuesday.

The semifinals will be Saturday, Feb. 27, at the high seed and the Section 6-1A championship will be Friday, March 5, at the MAC in St. Cloud.

Bemidji blanks DL

The Lakers faced a strong Section 8-2A foe in their last game of the regular season, playing the Bemidji Lumberjacks Tuesday. 

The Lakers played tough the entire night, but couldn't find the net in a 3-0 loss. 

Bemidji jumped out early in the first, scoring 22 seconds into the game. 

It took a while for the Lakers to pick up some momentum, but they started to put pressure on late in the period. 

An unfortunate bounce cost the Lakers in the second. 

The puck bounced off the boards and off of Andrew Friesen's leg to give the Lumberjacks the 2-0 lead. 

The Lakers had the majority of the pressure throughout the rest of the game, but couldn't get the puck past the Jacks' goalie. 

"We had five power plays and missed so many opportunities to put the puck away and it cost us the game," Denardo said.  "We passed up on way too many shots as well, and that makes all the difference."

Bemidji scored an open net goal at the end of the game for the 3-0 win. 

Friesen made 36 saves on the night. 

The loss gave the Lakers a final record of 15-8-2. 

The Lakers junior varsity lost a tough one to Bemidji 8-0 to end their season at 10-12. 

Blake Murphy saw 64 shots in the game. 

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