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No. 5 Willmar pulls off O.T. stunner over No. 4 DL

Laker Nate Baker (22) slides the puck just past the outstretched arm of Willmar goaltender Ben Leitch (1) during Tuesday night's section 6A quarterfinal game in Kent Freeman Arena.

A "Let's go DL" chant was echoing through Kent Freeman Arena after Tuesday's thrilling overtime Section 6-1A quarterfinal game between the No. 5 Willmar Cardinals and No. 4 Detroit Lakes Lakers.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, it was a goodbye and support chant from the DLHS student body, instead of a victory salute.

A one-timer by Willmar junior forward Grant Schow just 14 seconds into overtime, ended DL's season and playoff run before it even started.

The stunning goal by Schow capped a 4-3 victory by the Cardinals, who will advance to the semifinals against No. 1 Alexandria Saturday.

"Overtime games have been our nemesis," said DL head coach Chris Denardo on his team's latest O.T. loss and a record of 1-5 this season in the extra period.

The game took a different look for the Lakers midway through the second period when the state's scoring leader, junior forward Tanner Lane, was knocked out of the game after being checked into the boards and being forced to leave the game with a sprained shoulder.

No penalty was called on the check.

"The other guys really played hard without Tanner," Denardo said. "They were giving everything they had to win it for him."

Junior winger Nate Baker stepped up his game to the max after replacing Lane on the first line, along with senior Alex Phelps and sophomore Alex Mason.

Baker scored two of DL's three goals, including the go-ahead tally in the third period on a power play opportunity to put the Lakers up 3-2.

He scored his first to answer Willmar's first goal in the opening period to deadlock the game at 1-1 heading into the first intermission.

"Nate had his best game of the season," Denardo said.

But Willmar junior defenseman Landon Peterson tied the game at 3-3 on a rebound goal after he off of forward James Johnston's breakaway shot deflected off of DL goalie Andrew Friesen.

Regulation ended in a 3-3 tie, which quickly ended on Schow's one-timer 14 seconds into the extra period.

The Cardinals won the overtime faceoff and dumped the puck in the right corner.

Gabe Amon picked up the loose puck and found Schow camped out in the right slot for the one timer and win.

"(Schow) was just sitting in front of the net, it happened pretty quick," Denardo said.

The Lakers took their first lead of the game on a Ryan Berg goal 7:18 into the second off of assists by Chad Maristuen and Andy Schupp.

But Willmar responded 14:29 into the second on a Paul Schrupp power play goal on a rebound off of a Jake Tone slapshot.

Baker make a strong effort during a power play for DL 9:02 into the third after making a lunging rebound pickup in the right slot area, which raced past Willmar goalie Ben Leicht for the 3-2 advantage.

Leicht and Friesen each made highlight film saves throughout the contest, as the DL netminder finished with 33 saves and Leicht 37.

"Andrew had some great stops and (Leicht) played a solid game," Denardo added.

The Lakers end the season with a 15-9-2.

Laker results

Section 6-1A quarterfinals: (5) Willmar at (4) Detroit Lakes, Tuesday, Feb. 23.

Cardinals 1 1 1 1 - 4

Lakers 1 1 1 0 - 3

First period -- 1. Will, Matt Eddy (Grant Schow) :40; 2. DL, Nate Baker (Brett Provo) :27.

Second period -- 3. DL, Ryan Berg (Chad Maristuen, Andy Schupp) 7:18; 4. Will, PP Paul Schrupp (Jake Tone) 14:29.

Third period -- 5. DL, PP Baker (Alex Phelps, Provo) 9:02; 6. Will, Landon Peterson (Liam Johnston, James Johnston) 11:32.

Overtime -- 7. Will, Schow (Gabe Amon) 7:46.

Saves -- DL (Andrew Friesen) 15 6 12 0 - 33...Will (Ben Leitch) 8 16 13 0 - 37.

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