ST. PAUL—For one period Wednesday, the dream of a Class A state hockey title was alive and well for Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato. There are times, however, where one team has another's number and that was the case for Orono over the Dragons.
The No. 3 Spartans exploded for four second period goals on the way to a 6-1 quarterfinal victory at the Xcel Energy Center, setting up a semifinal meeting with Mahtomedi, the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
Orono's Lucas Jorgenson started things off with a goal just three minutes into the second period following an assist from Jack Suchy and Thomas Walker, only to double the lead 27 seconds later off a strike from Davey Burns. Orono was far from finished but Burns' goal proved to be enough to secure the win.
The Spartans continued their win streak against the Dragons, pushing it to 37 games dating back to December 2001. They dealt with another streak, however, snapping an 0-3 slide in state tournament quarterfinal matches going back to 2006. For the first time in 12 years, Orono is heading to the semifinals.
Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato's lone goal came off the stick of Orrin Grangroth following passes from Brandt Pedersen and Dylan Schutz on the powerplay 12:11 into the third period. The Spartans, however, always apt to pile on the goals against the Dragons, responded 1:42 later with a shorthanded goal from Zack Simon to complete the scoring.
Darby Halonen, a freshman netminder for the Dragons, turned away 28 shots, half of which came in the first period. Orono's Evan Babekuhl, however, was nearly perfect with 29 saves on 30 attempts.
The Dragons' drive for a state title may be over but they'll get a chance to fight back with a battle against Mankato East/Loyola Thursday. The puck drops at 10 a.m. at 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis. Mankato East/Loyola lost their opener 4-2 to the Zephyrs.
Orono 6, LDC 1
LDC 0 0 1 — 1
Orono 0 4 2 — 6
FIRST PERIOD — No scoring
SECOND PERIOD — O: Lucas Jorgenson (Jack Suchy, Thomas Walker) 3:00 ... O: Davey Burns (Dane Korsi, Jack Kubitz) 3:27 ... O: Daniel Eckerline (Suchy, Burns) 6:27 ... O: Kubitz (Korsi, Billy Lynch) 14:12
THIRD PERIOD — O: Jorgenson (Lynch, Nick Gherardi) 2:33 ... L: Orrin Grangroth (Brandt Pedersen, Dylan Schutz) 12:11 pp ... O: Zack Simon (Kubitz) 13:53 sh
GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS — Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato: Daby Halonen 28/34 ... Orono: Evan Babekuhl 29/30; Charlie Carlsen 1/1
Class A Quarterfinals
Alexandria 1, TRF 0
No. 4 seed Alexandria Area (18-10-1) survived a defensive slugfest with a 1-0 victory over No. 5 seed Thief River Falls (16-11-2) on Wednesday night at Xcel Energy Center in the 2018 MSHSL Class A Boys' Hockey Tournament quarterfinal.
The Cardinals, in their first state tournament trip since 2011, will face the top seed and two-time defending state champion Hermantown on Friday, March 9 at 1 p.m. in the state semifinals. The Prowlers will face Monticello in the consolation semifinals at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis on Thursday, March 8 at noon.
Alexandria Area senior goalie Jackson Boline produced a shutout in the net for the Cardinals and came up with a big save in the closing seconds to thwart one of Thief River Falls' top scoring opportunities.
Boline wasn't tested much in the first two periods, saving just nine shots and facing 23 through 34 minutes. The Cardinals offensive attack wasn't putting a huge shooting display on the other end, though with just 17 shots on goal. But with 44 total shots, the combination of the Alexandria puck control and defensive in front of Boline kept the Prowlers out of the net.
Things shifted as Thief River Falls had eight shots on goal while allowing just one to Alexandria in the first 14:30 of the final period. The final tally had each team fire 49 total shots with Alexandria Area edging Thief River Falls 21-19 on goal.
But in the end, Boline made all 19 saves while junior forward Jack Westlund buried Alexandria's only goal in the fourth minute of the second period which proved to be the difference.
Westlund is the Cardinals' leading point scorer with 33 on the year, burying his 15th goal of the season. The assists on the goal were to Andrew Revering (14) and Caleb Strong with his team leading 20th on the year.
Prowlers sophomore forward Tucker Skime produced a game high seven shots on goal in the losing effort.
Mahtomedi 4, Mankato East/Loyola 2
No. 2 seed Mahtomedi (22-6-1) used three third period goals in a 4-2 come from behind victory over Mankato East/Loyola (16-11-2) on Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center in the 2018 MSHSL Class A Boys' Hockey Tournament quarterfinal.
The Zephyrs advance to the state semifinals on Friday, March 9 with an 11 a.m. start against the Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato vs No. 3 Orono winner while the Cougars will play in the consolation semifinal on Thursday, March 8 at Mariucci Arena at 10 a.m.
The Cougars were overcoming a significant shot disparity in the first two periods, being outshot 48-22 overall and 24-8 on goal but were able to sneak a pair in the net to build a 2-1 lead in their first state tournament appearance since 2006.
Mahtomedi, looking to avenge last year's quarterfinal upset loss as the third seed, opened the third period on a high note with a goal in the opening minute to knot the score at two.
Although the game tightened as the intensity mounted down the stretch, Mahtomedi continued to tilt the ice with a solid shot margin.
Hermantown 4, Monticello 2
In a rematch of the 2017 Class A Championship, two-time defending state champions and top seed Hermantown (21-6-2) prevailed 4-2 over Monticello (19-8-2) on Wednesday evening at Xcel Energy Center in the 2018 Class A Boys' Hockey Tournament quarterfinal.
Sophomore wing Blake Biondi completed the hat trick to put the Moose away, tipping a shot from the point by teammate Darian Gotz, a junior defenseman to give Hermantown the 4-2 lead in the 15th minute of the third period.
The Hawks advance to the state semifinals and will play the No. 5 Thief River Falls vs No. 4 Alexandria Area winner on Friday, March 9 at 1 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center while Monticello heads to the consolation semifinal on Thursday, March 8 at noon at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis.
Biondi was a force, contributing on all four Hawk goals. He scored the game's first goal in the third minute of the first period and assisted along with senior center Tyler Watkins on senior wing Jacob Herter's power play goal in the seventh minute for a 2-0 lead at the first period break.
Watkins, the team's point leader, had a pair of assists (45) and has 70 points in 29 games on the year. With his four point game, Biondi now has 29 goals and 29 assists on the season. Meanwhile, Herter also had a two point performance, assisting with Watkins on Biondi's first goal before scoring the team's second.
Class AA Schedule
Lakeville North (16-10-2) vs. Edina (26-2), 11 a.m.
St. Michael-Albertville (23-5) vs. Duluth East (23-2-3), 1 p.m.
Hill-Murray (13-11-4) vs. Minnetonka (24-2-2), 6 p.m.
Centennial (19-6-3) vs. St. Thomas Academy (25-2-1), 8 p.m.