Prowlers foil Detroit Lakes in regular season finale
Head coach Scott Piepkorn, defenseman Ella Hess and goalie Leah Honer all earn Section 8A season awards.
Detroit Lakes and Thief River Falls went into Friday’s regular season finale at Kent Freeman Arena already knowing where they stand in the Section 8A playoffs. The Prowlers used a four-goal first period to take command early and left Detroit Lakes with a 4-0 victory.
Thief River Falls scored on its first two shots on the way to a 4-0 lead at intermission, including a goal in the final second just before the horn.
The Prowlers extended a lengthy winning streak over the Lakers winning for the 28th consecutive game. The last DL victory in the series was a 3-2 win in 2006.
Detroit Lakes got a confidence boost holding Thief River Falls off the scoreboard in the second and third periods.
The game was the final home contest for seniors: Honer, Halli Pavek, McKenna Burhans, Sydney Haus, Olivia Cunningham, Lauren McDougall and Abby Jasken.
Shelby Breiland scored the first two goals for the Prowlers, followed by Bella Amiot and Jenae Johnson with the buzzer beater.
Despite the loss, the Lakers finished the season 8-8 overall, the best winning percentage since the 2014-15 season (16-8-1). The eight victories are more than the past two seasons combined.
“It has been a real fun year,” Laker head coach Scott Piepkorn said. “In my third year with our staff and players, we are able to move on and work on different areas of the game. The players have started to trust each other and learn more about themselves and more importantly the game of hockey. Although this team is not the most talented team we have had in DL, it is definitely one of the best. On this 20th anniversary of DL girls hockey, there have been a lot of firsts for the program this season. I am so proud of each and every one of them.”
Section awards were released with the playoff bracket prior to the game. Piepkorn was named the 8A coach of the year. Both goalie Leah Honer and defenseman Ella Hess were named to the all-section second team. According to Piepkorn, it's the first time in program history that DL players have been named to the Section all-8A team.
Detroit Lakes also earned the Section 8A academic championship in an announcement from the school earlier in the week. The Lakers are the two-time Class A state academic champions.
Detroit Lakes (8-8) is seeded fifth in Section 8A and will face No. 4 East Grand Forks (3-13-1) Saturday, March 13 at 7 p.m., in East Grand Forks. Despite having five more victories, the Lakers lost the vote for the four-seed. The Green Wave and Lakers split two games during the season, but East Grand Forks held a 5-2 goal differential in those games.
Both teams won on the road in the series. The Lakers left East Grand Forks 1-0 victors in their last visit on Jan. 28. That win snapped a 24-game losing skid to the Green Wave.
The winner gets the unenviable task of playing No. 1 Warroad (16-1) at Gardens Arena Tuesday, March 16. The Warriors played only four section games this season winning all four by a wild goal differential of 37-0 in two wins over Thief River Falls and one against Crookston and East Grand Forks.
No. 2 Thief River Falls (9-6-1) hosts No. 3 Crookston (8-9-1) next Tuesday in the other semifinal.
Thief River Falls 4, Detroit Lakes 0
TRF 4 0 0 - 4
DET 0 0 0 - 0
TRF - Shelby Breiland
TRF - Shelby Breiland (Jenae Johnson)
TRF - Bella Amiot (Kali Knutson, Haylie Rogalla)
TRF - Jenae Johnson (Jayden Breiland)
Saves: TRF - Gabriella Steele 22; DL - Leah Honer 26.
All-Section 8A Girls Hockey teams
Forwards - Geno Hendrickson, Warroad; Shelby Breiland, Thief River Falls, Talya Hendrickson, Warroad.
Defense - Karlie Meeker, Warroad; Cal Lindquist, Warroad.
Goalie - Gabriella Steele, Thief River Falls
Forwards - Nora Peterson, Crookston; Kate Johnson, Warroad; Abbey Hardwick, Warroad.
Defense - Ella Hess, Detroit Lakes; MacKenze Epema, Crookston.
Goalie - Leah Honer, Detroit Lakes.
Coach of the Year: Scott Piepkorn, Detroit Lakes
Assistant Coach of the Year: Dan Gasperlin, East Grand Forks