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Wednesday's prep girls hockey playoff game: Proctor-Hermantown vs. Duluth Marshall

DULUTH MARSHALL (19-8) VS. PROCTOR-HERMANTOWN (17-7-3) What: Section 7A final When: 7 p.m. Where: Miners Memorial Building, Virginia Outlook: Second-seeded Duluth Marshall continues to win with defense, downing third-seeded Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 1...

DULUTH MARSHALL (19-8) VS. PROCTOR-HERMANTOWN (17-7-3)

What: Section 7A final

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Miners Memorial Building, Virginia

Outlook: Second-seeded Duluth Marshall continues to win with defense, downing third-seeded Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 1-0 on Saturday as Lillian Johnson had the game-winning goal at 10:25 of the second period and Charlesa Prior turned in a 20-save shutout. The Hilltoppers have great depth and balance, with 11 players who had at least nine points during the regular season. Sophomore Maren Friday leads the way with 14 goals and 21 assists for 35 points, including four goals and an assist in two playoff games, followed by junior Victoria Thorson (16-12-28) and senior Emily Lemker (12-16-28). Prior (17-8), a sophomore, has been stellar in net, with a 1.58 goals-against average, .912 save percentage and Northland-best nine shutouts. Marshall, which has allowed just seven goals in its past 10 games, is vying for its first trip to the state tournament (Proctor-Hermantown-Marshall advanced in 2010). ... Top-seeded and defending section champion Proctor-Hermantown advanced with a 3-0 shutout of fourth-seeded Hibbing-Chisholm as Megan Madill, Michaela Phinney and Dehli Heikes scored goals and Ryan Gray made 26 saves. Heikes, Kaitlyn Fawcett, Alyssa Watkins and Phinney each scored at least 25 points during the regular season, while Samantha Lewis (1.84, .890, three shutouts) and Gray (2.55, .887, one) were strong in net. The Mirage are vying for their fifth state-tournament appearance and fourth since 2014. They edged the Hilltoppers 4-3 in overtime during the clubs' only regular-season meeting on Nov. 27 at Mars Lakeview Arena.

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Radio: WKLK-FM 96.5

Twitter: @TacoJon1

Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at jnowacki@duluthnews.com or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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