Hometown teams battle for boys hockey semifinals

The opening round play of Section 4AA boys’ hockey action Feb. 23 saw Hill-Murray (1), White Bear Lake (2), Stillwater (3) and Roseville (6) advance to semifinal action that was played Feb. 26 at the State Fair Coliseum Feb. 26. 

Hill-Murray 12 — Como Park 1 

The Hill-Murray Pioneers had no problems downing the Como Park entry in the opening contest of sectional play.  

They put the winning goal on the board in the first period of the 12-1 triumph  in opening their defense of the section 4AA title. 

In all the Pioneers picked up goals from 10 separate players and points from 14 players in the rout of the Cougars.  Hill-Murray outshot the Cougars by a whopping 78-8.

Leading the Pioneers with three assists was Willie Brown. He was followed by Davis Zarembinski (2-0), Zach Mills (1-1), Zach LaValle (1-1), Josh French (2-0), Dan Dolan (0-2), Tyler Funk (0-2), Mitch Slattery (0-2). Joey Anderson (1-0), C. J. LaChappelle (1-0), Matt Littler (1-0), Sam Becker (1-0) and Logan Sharp (0-1).

The win pushed Hill-Murray into semifinal action against Stillwater (4) as 3-2 winner over Mounds View (5) in overtime. 

White Bear Lake 5 — North 3 

The North Polars (6) pushed the highly touted White Bear Lake (2) entry in Section 4AA play to the limit before relenting and losing by 5-3. 

The Polars picked up three first period tallies and when the horn sounded to end the period, they were on top by 3-1. 

That however, would be all the goals North would put past the White Bear Lake goalkeeper.

Opening the scoring on the North first shot on goal, at 3:09, was Justin Oliver, after picking up assists from brother Tyler Oliver and Adam Hildebrandt.  

White Bear Lake came back with a tally at 4:03. 

The Polars brought their fans to their feet with their second goal, scored at 4:03. It was Justin Oliver on a short-handed effort who moved the Polars to a 2-1 leeway at 6:54 after taking passes from Jack Murnane and brother Tyler. 

North made it 3-1 just 10 seconds later when they charged into the Bears zone and Hildebrandt made hay with a shot after feeds from the Oliver brothers. 

The first period ended with North on top of a 3-1 score. 

Two quick White Bear Lake goals in the second period — at 8:06 and 8:47 — put them in front for good. 

The Bears cushioned their margin with a pair of third period goals that  came at 1:03 and at 14:24 to post the 5-3 victory. 

The win moved the Bears into a semifinal matchup against Roseville (6). 

The loss ended the North season with an overall mark of 10-15-1.

Roseville 6 — Tartan 5 

In perhaps the most entertaining game of the opening of Section 4AA play the Titans and the Raiders traded punches like a pair of well-matched pugilists. 

Total shots on goal favored Tartan at game’s end by 38-34, 

However, the big number of the board favored Roseville by one goal at 6-5 . 

Tartan leading point producer, Jake Jackson took feeds from Zach Ledman and Jacob Picht and found pay dirt just 1:41 into the game to give Tartan an early leeway. 

The Raiders came back just under seven minutes later on an unassisted effort by Tony Artas at 8:31.  

Next it was the Titans who regained their leeway when Eric Olheiser combined with Rusty Axtman to dish the disc to Michael Friberg. The  crafty winger put the puck in the Roseville basket with a shot at 9:02. 

Tartan gained a 2-goal advantage two minutes later when Olheiser put the puck on the blade of Friberg and he put it into a slot and hit the jackpot at 11:04. 

The game was still in the first period as the Raiders went on a power play. When Ryan Larson picked off an errant pass, he went in to tally a 12:51 to pull the Raiders to within one at 3-2 as the first period came to a close.

Power-play battles

The Titans regained their 2-goal margin in the second period as with a man short, Picht picked up a bouncing puck and relayed it to Jackson. The fleet-bladed Tartan ace potted a shorthanded tally at 1:47. 

Tartan was still a man short and this time the Raiders made no mistakes. Colton Brauman and Andrew Colvard moved the puck to the blade of Robb Strautz and he found magic with a blast at 2:03.

Just over two minutes later Roseville leveled the score when Ryan Novotny  fed the puck to the stick of Pearcy Marks. He in turn made good with a missile that hit the back mesh of the Tartan goal at 5:17. 

Again the Titans moved back on top by a goal when Jackson scored a hat trick  after Brady O’Sullivan put a pass onto his stick. Jackson’s third goal came on a quick wrister that found the inside of the Roseville net at 7:04.

Tartan had the 5-4 lead but Roseville wasn’t satisfied being behind. Colvard fed the puck to Strautz and he steered it between the Tartan pipes at 9:24. 

The scoring frenzy then died down and the squads went the remainder of the second period all level at 5-5. 

Battling through the third

Though the Titans came on strong and tried desperately to prolong their season, outshooting Roseville by 17-5 in the third session, It was Roseville who found the way to claim the win. 

Colvard hit the stick of Strautz and he in turn hit the back of the Tartan cage for his 3-goal hat trick at 9:24. 

The score by Strautz would be the final of the game and it pushed the Raiders into semifinal action against White Bear Lake Feb. 26. 

The loss ended a very successful Tartan season as they finished at 21-5-1. 

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