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Saturday's prep boys hockey playoff games

DULUTH EAST (16-6-2) VS. CLOQUET-ESKO-CARLTON (14-11-1)

What: Section 7AA semifinal

When: 2 p.m.

Where: Amsoil Arena

Outlook: Defending section champ Duluth East appears to have buried its midseason scoring struggles. The Greyhounds have tallied 36 goals in their past six wins, including seven while blanking Duluth Marshall in the section quarterfinals. They draw another rival today. It's the third semifinal matchup between No. 2 East and No. 3 Cloquet-Esko-Carlton in the past seven years, with the Greyhounds winning 3-0 in 2013 and 1-0 in 2017. Prior to that, the Lumberjacks got the last laugh in a 2008 semifinal when David Brown scored his fourth goal of the game with 11.7 seconds remaining in regulation to seal a 6-5 victory. This winter, East clipped the Lumberjacks 2-1 in OT and 2-0. Wisconsin commit, Mr. Hockey finalist and senior forward Ryder Donovan (13 goals, 25 assists, 38 points) leads the Greyhounds. Ricky Lyle (16-14—30) had four goals against Marshall. ... CEC, which hasn't been back to the state tournament since 2008, comes in on a 10-3-1 surge. The Lumberjacks returned talented defenseman Dane Stoyanoff from an anterior cruciate ligament injury in their regular-season finale, a 2-2 tie vs. Hermantown that secured a share of the Lake Superior Conference title. CEC's top line of senior Landon Langenbrunner (18-24—42), sophomore Christian Galatz (16-15—31) and senior Gavin Rasmussen (20-10—30) has found its groove. Rasmussen has 11 goals in his past seven games. Junior goalie Owen Carlson has shined down the stretch. He turned away 41 of 43 shots in the Lumberjacks' loss to East on Feb. 4 and made 32 saves in a 4-1 win over Grand Rapids in the quarterfinals. Today's winner faces either Andover or Elk River in Thursday's final.

Radio: WWAX-FM 92.1

Twitter: @Louiesg3

HERMANTOWN (21-3-2) VS. VIRGINIA/MOUNTAIN IRON-BUHL (9-15-1)

What: Section 7A semifinal

When: 6 p.m.

Where: Amsoil Arena

Outlook: Not only does top-seeded and top-ranked Hermantown enter on a 16-game unbeaten streak (14-0-2), but the Hawks also are riding a 16-game winning streak over VMIB. The Blue Devils haven't defeated Hermantown since Dec. 17, 2004, when they escaped 6-5 in OT. Powered by some guy named Matt Niskanen, VMIB reached its first state tournament that season. Hermantown is the five-time defending section champ, having hoisted the trophy every year since joining 7A in 2013-14. The Hawks' potent offense is led by junior forward and Minnesota Duluth commit Blake Biondi (31-28—59). Biondi, senior forward Brady Baker and sophomore forward Cole Antcliff all had hat tricks in a 13-0 quarterfinal win over Hibbing-Chisholm, while senior defenseman Darian Gotz, another UMD commit, scored twice. Senior goaltender Cole Manahan (1.66 goals-against average, .926 save percentage, five shutouts) has been a workhorse this winter, playing just about every minute. ... Tuesday night's quarterfinal round brought good and bad news for VMIB. The fourth-seeded Blue Devils outlasted rival Eveleth-Gilbert 5-4 in a triple-overtime thriller, but lost leading goal-scorer Cade Moreland in the process. Moreland, a senior forward, had registered 18 goals and 11 assists before suffering a season-ending injury against the Golden Bears. Junior forward Zach Kilen's 32 points, on seven goals and 25 assists, lead VMIB, which gave Hermantown its closest call of any Section 7A team this season, falling to the Hawks 5-3 on Feb. 11.

Radio: WWAX-FM 92.1

Twitter: @Louiesg3

DULUTH DENFELD (14-8-3) VS. GREENWAY (13-13)

What: Section 7A semifinal

When: 8 p.m.

Where: Amsoil Arena

Outlook: It was only two years ago that Duluth Denfeld won just five games. The Hunters doubled that total in 2017-18 under first-year coach Dale Jago and now are the second seed in the 7A bracket, ranked 14th in Class A and a win away from the section final. They've advanced with terrific goaltending and balanced offense. Junior Shawn Easty (2.59, .905, two) and sophomore Jacob Snyder (3.41, .881) have split time between the pipes. Snyder received the nod and stopped 50 of 53 shots in Denfeld's eye-opening 4-3 overtime win against Greenway in December. Senior forward Payton Budisalovich (16-22—38) scored the game-winner that night, while senior forward Zach DeCaro (11-18—29) had two goals and an assist. Griffin Lehet (27-16—43), a junior forward, leads the Hunters in points and sophomore forward Kade Shea (12-22—34) also is dangerous. Denfeld is trying to reach its first section final since 2013, when it lost 3-2 to Duluth Marshall. ... Greenway, meanwhile, is looking for its third consecutive trip to the title tilt. The third-seeded Raiders have won seven in a row since limping through a 2-7 stretch. They are ranked ninth in the state. Senior forward Donte Lawson (29-26—55) has continued his high-scoring ways and has registered a goal in five straight games. Juniors Ben Troumbly (18-17—35), a forward, and Christian Miller (2-15—17), a defenseman, are St. Cloud State commits.

Radio: WWAX-FM 92.1

Twitter: @Louiesg3

SUPERIOR (18-6) VS. HUDSON (15-9-1)

What: Wisconsin Sectional 1 championship

When: 2 p.m.

Where: Wessman Arena

Outlook: Top-seeded Superior hasn't allowed a postseason goal, blanking its first two opponents. That included 5-0 over New Richmond on Tuesday as the Spartans improved to 69-3 all-time in home playoff games. Another win today would oust the two-time defending state champion Raiders from the field and send Superior to its 38th state tournament. Senior forward Cayden Laurvick (26-17—43) and junior forward Gunnar Hansen (21-23—44) are the Spartans' leading scorers, while senior forward Taylor Burger comes in with 17 goals and 19 assists. Superior is 18-13-1 all-time vs. Hudson and defeated the Raiders 3-1 and 3-2 in overtime during the regular season. ... Hudson entered the playoffs having lost three in a row and five of seven. The Raiders, who defeated Superior 4-1 in the 2018 sectional final, have outscored their past two opponents a combined 14-1. In Tuesday's 7-1 win over Baldwin-Woodville, senior Ethan Sporn tallied his second goal of the winter. Sporn netted eight goals and 10 assists last season for the North Shore Storm. Senior forward Cole Danielson's 45 points, on 20 goals and 25 assists, are tops on the Raiders.

Internet: ifan.tv

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