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Lakers ready themselves for Section 8-1A playoffs

Defenseman Michael Herrmann will help lead a strong defense into the Section 8-1A playoffs, which start Thursday. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

The Detroit Lakes boys’ hockey team will have to hit the road for the first round of the Section 8-1A playoffs after being voted as the No. 5 seed.

The second season will start for the Lakers (16-7-1) Thursday, when they travel to No. 4 Kittson Central (16-5-2), a team DL split with this season.

“It’s a little disappointing we got the fifth seed, but the votes were not there for us,” said DL head coach Chris Denardo. “I do feel we match up well against Kittson Central, though.”

The Lakers defeated the Bearcats Dec. 26, in the Eveleth Holiday Tournament 5-2, but lost Jan. 18, by the score of 2-0.

The two teams mirror each other in that they both have potent first lines, with each having players over 50-plus points.

“Their top line is very good with a couple of high scorers,” Denardo said. “I do feel we are deeper with better second and third lines, though, and deeper on defense.”

The Bearcats are led by Dalton Klegstad’s 62 points and Billy Thorsteinson with 55 points.

Nick Kasprowicz has racked up 48 points.

But the Lakers also have a solid one-two punch of their own in sophomore forward Jon Richards, who has 55 points (22 goals and 33 assists) and junior Ryan DeConcini, who has 53 points (24 goals and 29 assists).

But as any hockey playoff run comes down to, goalie play will be crucial.

Junior MacKenzie Steele is coming off a big shutout of Park Rapids last Tuesday and has played as consistent as can be with an 89.9 save percentage.

The Bearcats have Tucker Cosley, who has been solid with a 91.3 save percentage.

“Both goalies are playing well,” Denardo said. “A key for us is to get out to a quick start, score early on him and maybe shake his confidence a little.”

In the first meeting, the Lakers had 45 shots on goal on Cosley for their 5-2 win, but only managed just over 20 in the 2-0 loss.

“We were pretty flat in the second meeting with them,” Denardo said. “Our goal in every game is to get 35-plus shots on goal and limit our opponents to under 30 shots.”

 The two play-in games will be Tuesday, with No. 9 Lake of the Woods visiting No. 8 Red Lake Falls, with the winner to face top-seeded East Grand Forks Thursday.

In the bottom bracket, No. 10 Bagley/Fosston will travel to No. 7 Crookston, with the victor facing No. 2 Warroad Thursday.

The semifinals and finals will be held at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls Saturday, Feb. 22. The title game will be Thursday, Feb. 27, starting at 7 p.m.

Lakers clip Flyers

A quick start to the regular season finale was enough to stave off the Little Falls Flyers 4-2 Thursday for the Lakers.

Wilson Lysford and Joe Solberg each scored in the first period, while Lysford added the third in the second for a 3-0 advantage.

But the Flyers (3-19-3) put a pair of power play goals past DL goalie Austin Fritz with just over seven minutes to go in the game, but Richards put in an empty netter to tie the win up.

“We controlled the first two periods, but Little Falls came out hitting hard and probably out-worked us,” Denardo said. “It’s a good learning lesson for us, because there’s no excuse not to play hard in every game.”

Fritz finished with 21 saves, while Little Falls’ Ezra Spandl had 23 in the loss.

Detroit Lakes at Little Falls, Thursday, Feb. 13

Lakers            2 1 1 – 4

Flyers             0 0 2 – 2

1st Period -- Scoring: DTRTLK - Lysford Goal (even strength) (Deconcini) 6:03; DTRTLK - Solberg Goal (even strength) (Deconcini) 8:39. Penalties: Boomgarden, DTRTLK (Hooking, Minor, 2 min) 8:12; Fenske, LTLFLS (Hooking, Minor, 2 min) 8:12; Anez, LTLFLS (Hooking, Minor, 2 min) 11:38; Herrmann, DTRTLK (Roughing, Minor, 2 min) 13:07; Jorgensen, LTLFLS (Holding, Minor, 2 min) 14:33. Goalie Changes: None

2nd Period -- Scoring: DTRTLK - Lysford Goal (power play) (Richards) 1:53. Penalties: Himley, LTLFLS (Tripping, Minor, 2 min) 0:11; Crawford, DTRTLK (Slashing, Minor, 2 min) 3:11; Backowski, LTLFLS (Tripping, Minor, 2 min) 5:53; Bjorge, LTLFLS (Interference, Minor, 2 min) 14:49. Goalie Changes: None

3rd Period -- Scoring: LTLFLS - Miller Goal (even strength) 8:11; LTLFLS - Jorgensen Goal (power play) (Miller, Anez) 9:54; DTRTLK - Richards Goal (even strength, EN) 16:40. Penalties: Backowski, LTLFLS (Holding, Minor, 2 min) 2:52; Anez, LTLFLS (Holding, Minor, 2 min) 3:29; Hallisey, DTRTLK (Elbowing, Minor, 2 min) 6:06; Olson, DTRTLK (Tripping, Minor, 2 min) 8:27; Anez, LTLFLS (Unsportsmanlike Conduct, Minor, 2 min) 16:49; Bremseth, DTRTLK (Roughing, Minor, 2 min) 16:49. Goalie Changes: Empty Net, LTLFLS 16:20; Spandl, LTLFLS 16:40

Shots on goal – DL 7 12 8 – 27…LF 7 7 9 – 23

Saves – DL (Austin Fritz) 21…LF (Ezra Spandl) 23

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