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Tribune Notebook: Willmar WarHawks riding high into postseason

Willmar begins NA3HL playoffs against Mason City on a 12-game winning streak

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Willmar WarHawks forward Jeremiah Konkel celebrates after scoring a goal in the first period against the Alexandria Blizzard on Friday, Oct. 22, at the Willmar Civic Center.
Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — The Willmar WarHawks closed out the best regular season in franchise history last weekend. And now, they head into the Fraser Cup playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the NA3HL.

Riding a franchise-record 12-game win streak, the WarHawks (32-14-1) begin postseason play with a best-of-three series against the Mason City Toros (33-13-1) this week:

  • Game 1: 7 p.m. Thursday at Mason City.
  • Game 2: 7:10 p.m. Friday at the Willmar Civic Center.
  • Game 3 (if necessary): 4 p.m. Sunday at Mason City.

The WarHawks are led by forward Jeremiah Konkel, who now holds the franchise’s single-season goals record with 25. Konkel, from Bloomington, also had 27 assists in the regular season.
He’s not the only record setter.

Fellow forward Anthony Foster, from Warroad, joins Konkel as the third and fourth players in franchise history to score over 50 points in a season.

At goalie, Cooper Olson, from Maple Grove, holds the high mark in wins in a season (16). Will Kunka, from Moorhead, also set a franchise record with six shutouts this season.

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Carlsons headed to NCAA championships

Former Willmar High School wrestling standouts Clay and Cael Carlson will both be in the hunt for a national championship.

Clay and Cael, who are cousins, both qualified for the 2022 NCAA Championships on March 17-19 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan.

Clay, now wrestling at South Dakota State, is headed to his second national tournament after earning All-American honors with an eighth-place finish in 2021. Seeded second in the Big 12 Conference tournament at 141 pounds, Clay ended the tournament with a 3-1 record and a third-place finish after a 7-5 decision over North Dakota State’s Dylan Droegemueller. Clay is 30-4 this season and is ranked eighth at 141, according to InterMat, a wrestling publication.

Cael, a redshirt sophomore for the University of Minnesota at 165, was the eighth seed in the Big Ten Conference tournament. Going 2-2 in the tournament, Cael needed to win the seventh-place match against fifth-seeded Caleb Fish of Michigan State. Cael did just that, scoring a fall in 2 minutes, 41 seconds to go to his first national tournament. With a record of 19-15, Cael is one of nine Gophers going to nationals along with: Patrick McKee, Jake Gliva, Jake Bergeland, Michael Blockhus, Bailee O’Reilly, Isaiah Salazar, Michial Foy, and Gable Steveson.

Haugen helps Oles win MIAC tourney

Former Willmar WarHawks goaltender and current St. Olaf sophomore goaltender Lukas Haugen is headed to the NCAA Division III Men’s Hockey Championship.

The seventh seed in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference playoffs, the Oles are headed to nationals for the second time in school history after beating top-seeded Augsburg 5-2 in the MIAC championship Saturday in Minneapolis.

In the championship, Haugen made 25 saves, including 15 in the second period.

Haugen, from Excelsior, has an 8-5-0 record this season with a 2.67 goals against average and a .912 save percentage.

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Earning an automatic bid by winning the MIAC tournament, St. Olaf (11-14-3) opens the national tournament against St. Norbert College (23-6) at 7 p.m. Saturday in De Pere, Wisconsin.

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Willmar junior Blake Schoolmeester eyes the rim before lining up a shot as the Cardinals hosted the Otters in Willmar Friday, Jan. 21, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

CLC awards

Willmar junior boys basketball player Blake Schoolmeester was tabbed as a Central Lakes Conference performer of the week.

In three games last week, Schoolmeester, a 6-foot-6 forward, scored 47 points and had 10 assists. The Cardinals went 2-1 last week with a win over St. Cloud Apollo (67-63 OT), a loss to Fergus Falls (67-50) and a win over Sauk Rapids (70-46).

Willmar is the sixth seed in the Section 8AAA tournament and began postseason play Tuesday at third-seeded Sauk Rapids. For results, check www.wctrib.com/sports.

Other CLC performers of the week around the conference include:

  • At Rocori, boys basketball player Jack Spanier; 
  • At Brainerd, girls basketball player Olivia Tautges and wrestler Easton Dircks;
  • At Sauk Rapids, girls basketball player Grace Roesch;
  • And, at Alexandria, boys swimmer Carter Holm. 

Novice Bonspiel

The Glacial Ridge Curling Club welcomes spectators to the 14th annual novice bonspiel on Friday and Saturday at the Willmar Civic Center. Competition begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday and all day Saturday.

Of the four team members on each squad, two are novice curlers with two years of experience or less.

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For more information, go to glacialridgecurling.org.

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Joe Brown
Joe Brown is a sports reporter for the West Central Tribune. He can be reached via email at: jbrown@wctrib.com or his office number: 320-214-4332.

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