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Hutchinson halts Willmar bid for state

PRIOR LAKE -- Senior forward Riley Bengsten had a hat trick and two assists in leading Hutchinson to a 5-1 triumph over Willmar in the Section 3A boys hockey semifinals on Saturday.

The Tigers' victory avenged a 2-1 loss to Willmar on Jan. 24.

Willmar, the No. 3 seed, outshot No. 2 Hutchinson 26-23 and held the Tigers without a goal on five power-play chances. But the Cardinals were unable to contain Bengsten and his linemates.

Hutchinson will take on New Ulm in the championship at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.

Hutchinson took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Mitchell Cowger at 10:20 of the first period with Bengsten and Michael Hangte chalking up assists.

The Tigers tacked on two more goals in the second period with Bengsten tallying the first at 2:27 and Hantge the second at 10:07.

Cowger also assisted on two of the Tigers' goals and finished with three points.

Willmar got back in it when Trent Fader, who scored twice against Marshall in Friday's 6-2 semifinal win in Willmar, scored at 9:01 of the third period on an assist from Jay Bredberg.

But that was all the Cardinals would get past Zak Swenson, who made 25 saves.

Bengsten made it 4-1 with a short-handed goal at 13:41 and then scored again with 29 seconds left for the final margin. Bengsten has 33 goals and 23 assists on the season.

Willmar netminder Ben Leitch made 18 saves. The Cardinals finished 11-14.

Hutchinson 5, Willmar 1

Willmar (11-14) 0 0 1 -- 1

Hutchinson (17-6-1) 1 2 2 -- 5

FIRST PERIOD - Hut: Mitchell Cowger (Riley Bengsten, Michael Hantge), 10:20

SECOND PERIOD - Hut: Bengsten (Cowger), 2:27 ... Hut: Hantge (Bengsten), 10:07

THIRD PERIOD - Wil: Trent Fader (Jay Bredberg), 9:01 ... Hut: Bengsten (Cowger), 13:41, sh ... Hut: Bengsten (Lucas Doelger), 16:31

GOALIE SAVES - Willmar: Ben Leitch 10-6-2--18 ... Hutchinson: Zak Swenson 3-9-13--25