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SECTION 7A TITLE GAME: HERMANTOWN VS. DULUTH MARSHALL

HERMANTOWN (24-2-1) VS. DULUTH MARSHALL (19-5-3) What: Section 7A final When: 7 p.m. Where: Amsoil Arena Outlook: Among big-time streaks top-seeded Hermantown will tote into tonight's game: 21-0-1 since a Dec. 6 loss to Hopkins; five consecutive ...

HERMANTOWN (24-2-1) VS. DULUTH MARSHALL (19-5-3)

What: Section 7A final

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Amsoil Arena

Outlook: Among big-time streaks top-seeded Hermantown will tote into tonight’s game: 21-0-1 since a Dec. 6 loss to Hopkins; five consecutive state tournament appearances; and 10 straight wins over Marshall. The Hawks won the first two meetings between these Lake Superior Conference rivals - 6-2 on Dec. 30 and 5-2 on Jan. 16. To be fair, both games were far closer than the final scores indicated. Regardless, Hermantown has been the class of Class A most of the winter, and if the Hawks play like they did for about 43 minutes of their 6-1 win over Hibbing-Chisholm in Saturday’s section semifinals, they will be difficult to dethrone. They overwhelmed the Bluejackets after allowing the game’s first goal, amassing a 25-2 second-period advantage in shots on goal along the way. Cole Koepke (20 goals, 21 assists, 41 points) has four goals against Marshall this season. Nate Pionk (30-31-61) and Ryan Kero (27-37-64) are dependable playmakers. Goalie Luke Olson (1.53 goals-against average, .928 save percentage) has five shutouts. Hermantown, which beat Marshall 6-2 in last year’s title tilt, when Pionk had a hat trick, hasn’t lost to a Class A team all season. The Hawks have scored on about 35 percent of their power plays.  … Second-seeded Marshall is looking to upend Hermantown for the first time since January 2008. If the Hilltoppers snap that streak tonight, they prolong their stay in Class A - they are moving to Class AA next year. Through the first two rounds of the playoffs, Marshall appears to have shaken a scoring slump that surfaced late in the regular season. The Hilltoppers have outscored two playoff opponents by a combined 14-0, including a strong showing in a 4-0 win over Duluth Denfeld in the semifinals. Goalie Alex Murray (1.54, .933) notched his seventh shutout in that contest, and four players scored. John McKenna (16-14-30), Peter Lenz (15-8-23) and Derek Farrell (13-22-35) are the leading goal-scorers for an equal-opportunity offense.

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