3/1/2018 3:18:00 PM Vikings' hockey to play for state berth
Section Quarterfinals: North Branch 11, Mora/Milaca 0 The second-seeded Vikings made mincemeat out of the seventh-seeded Mora/Milaca Mustangs in the Section 5A quarterfinals, crushing them 11-0 last Thursday, February 22 at Chisago Lakes Arena. Alec Hink and Cody Moline each had hat tricks and playmaker Jake Richard had four assists to lead the Vikings. The win earned the Vikings the opportunity to face third-seeded Pine City in the semifinals.
Moline also had two assists for five total points. Brady Meyer had two goals and two assists. Cody Croal finished the game with two goals and an assist. Nick Jensen had two assists. Zach Larson, Justin Sachs, Hink and Tim Moll each ended up with one assist for the night Section Semifinals: North Branch 4, Pine City 3 Jake Richards scored a power play goal with 36 seconds left in the game to lift the Vikings to a thrilling 4-3 win over the Pine City Dragons in the Section 5A semifinals. The Vikings had taken a 3-1 lead into the third period, but the Dragons scored twice to tie it up, threatening to send the game into overtime. The win sends the Vikings to tonight’s section championship game against the Monticello Magic at Elk River Ice Arena at 7 p.m.
Brady Meyer got things going with an unassisted goal 1:41 into the first period to put the Vikings up 1-0. George Miller scored a power play goal later in the period for the Dragons to tie things up. In the second period, the Vikings took advantage of an early power play and Cody Croal scored at 1:07, assisted by Meyer and Jake Richards, to give the Vikings a 2-1 lead. And when Meyer scored his second goal of the game on a power play at 7:53 of the second to give the Vikings a 3-1 lead, it looked like the Vikings were in control. Justin Sachs picked up the assist on Meyers’ goal.
But Jonah Bergstrom scored for Pine City just 14 seconds into the third period to pull the Dragons within one. And Miller scored at 11:25 to tie the game at 3-3 and set up a nail-biting finish. Richards’ winning goal with just 36 seconds left in the game was historic, sending the Vikings to the first section championship game in school history.
Tonight’s game will be the third meeting of the years between the Vikings and Monticello, who finished second at last year’s state tournament. The top-seeded Magic (18-7-2) beat the Vikings (22-5-0) at Monticello 4-2 on December 15. The Magic needed to go to overtime to beat the Vikings 4-3 at Chisago Lakes Arena on January 11. The Vikings are on a roll, having won ten games in a row. Let’s hope they keep it going tonight and earn their first trip to state.