The battle for the right to go to state in tomorrow night’s Section 6A girls’ hockey tournament will feature two teams with much different histories.
Alexandria comes in as the perennial front-runner in this section. The Cardinals (13-12-1) are shooting for their third straight trip to state and their eighth section title in the last nine years.
Detroit Lakes is the antithesis of that. The Lakers (11-15) are making their first section finals appearance, and their No. 2 seed is the highest ranking in the history of their program. Brian Wierima of the Detroit Lakes newspaper gives a good recap of their excitement level of just getting to this point after a 5-2 win over Fergus Falls on Tuesday night.
The Lakers biggest obstacle to overcome might be getting past the mental hurdle that comes with playing Alexandria at this time of year. The Cardinals, no matter their regular season record, have always found a way to get things done in these games.
Alexandria won just eight games heading into the playoffs last season. It didn’t matter in the end. The Cardinals rattled off three straight wins in the section playoffs by a combined score of 22-4.
It was a similar story in 2010 when the Cardinals lost five straight to end the regular season before winning the section title game against a 23-2 Morris-Benson Area team. Alexandria had lost to the Storm in their only match-up during the regular season.
The onus of knocking off the Cardinals now falls on the Lakers after the two teams split during the regular season. I’m interested in seeing whether or not Alexandria plays with confidence or plays scared after barely surviving in overtime against a very young Pequot Lakes team on Tuesday.
How will Detroit Lakes respond in its first time playing at this level? Will the Lakers play like they have nothing to lose or will the pressure get to them? I’ll be there to find out when the puck drops at the MAC in St. Cloud at 7 p.m.