What: Class A state semifinal

When: 11 a.m.

Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul

Outlook: Third-seeded Cloquet-Esko-Carlton is making its sixth state-tournament appearance and first since 2009, when the Lumberjacks were in Class AA. CEC was Class AA state runner-up in 2003 and 2005 but hasn’t made a state title game since. … Second-seeded Warroad is making its 11th state-tournament appearance, all since 2006, and its fifth straight. The Warriors were the Class A champion in 2010 and 2011 and have been runner-up another five times. That includes the past two years, when they’ve finished second to Breck, which is playing Rochester Lourdes in the other state semifinal at 1:30 p.m. Friday. … CEC and Warroad did not play each other during the regular season but have played common opponents, with Warroad crushing Duluth 11-0 and Duluth Marshall 10-1 and CEC winning those games 6-1 and 3-0, respectively. … Cloquet-Esko-Carlton advanced with a 2-0 quarterfinal victory Wednesday over unseeded Hutchison as freshman goalie Araya Kiminski had 18 saves and Jenna Zdebski and Dana Jones had first-period goals. … Senior Taylor Nelson (44 goals, 30 assists, 74 points), a Bemidji State recruit, leads CEC in scoring followed by fellow seniors Kiana Bender (32-26—58) and Dea DeLeon (7-33—40). Kiminski is 16-2 with a 1.69 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and two shutouts. However, in the playoffs, she is 4-0 with a 0.75 GAA and .959 save percentage. … Warroad advanced with a 7-4 quarterfinal victory Wednesday over unseeded Willmar as junior center Geno Hendrickson had a hat trick. The Warriors are led by Ms. Hockey finalist Hannah Corneliusen, a Merrimack recruit who leads the state in scoring with 55 goals and 28 assists for 83 points. She is followed closely by Hendrickson (36-46—82), a Franklin Pierce recruit. Five Warroad players have at least 47 points as the Warriors have averaged seven goals per game. Sophomore Kendra Nordick and junior C.J. Lanctot split time in net during the regular season but Nordick has gotten the nod in the playoffs. She is 12-1-1 with a 1.91 GAA, .898 save percentage and five shutouts. Nordick allowed four goals against 23 shots Wednesday against Willmar.

Bottom line: The Lumberjacks will have to play better than they did on Wednesday to keep pace with a Warriors team with big names and plenty of state experience. Goaltending once-again will be key as Kiminski will look to stay hot while Nordick will look to bounce back. “We know Warroad always has a very good team and has some players who are very skilled,” Lumberjacks coach Courtney Olin said. “I thought we got sloppy at times in the neutral zone (Wednesday), and with our positioning as well. I felt like at times we were kind of running around. I know moving forward to Friday we can’t afford to take chances like that. We’ll definitely have to clean up our positioning and capitalize on scoring opportunities.”

Up next: The winner advances to the Class A championship 4 p.m. Saturday at Xcel Energy Center against the Breck-Lourdes winner. The semifinal losers play at 9 a.m. for third place.


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Jon Nowacki, News Tribune