The Section 8-2A tournament is set and the bracket is similar to last season’s.
There are the two heavyweights – top seed North Wright County and second-seeded Roseau – with Sartell/Sauk Rapids not far behind.
The Storm’N Sabres were seeded fourth last season and upset NWC 6-2 in the semifinals before losing 4-2 to Roseau in the final.
Last season’s experience has back-to-back Central Lakes Conference champion Sartell/Sauk Rapids confident entering this season’s tournament as the third seed.
“We’re hoping to make it further than last year and get to the state tournament,” said captain Nina Jacobson. “I think we can do it. It’s going to take a lot of work.”
The Storm’N Sabres host River Lakes in a quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. Saturday at Bernick’s Arena.
Top seed North Wright County takes on No. 8 Brainerd/Little Falls, No. 5 St. Cloud goes to No. 4 Bemidji and No. 2 Roseau hosts Moorhead all at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“River Lakes has a good top line with Rachael Prozinski,” said Sartell/Sauk Rapids coach Marty Anderson. “She has over 40 points. She’s a good player.”
The Storm’N Sabres are riding the hot hand of senior goaltender Erin Deters, whose .947 save percentage is third-best in the state among goalies who have played 600-plus minutes this season. She averages 1.63 goals allowed per game.
Sartell/Sauk Rapids lost a lot of firepower from last season’s team when forwards Kendra Rasmussen and Mickey Moran graduated, but Lexi Holman has paced the Storm’N Sabres’ offense.
Holman leads Sartell/Sauk Rapids with 40 points on the season, 15 in the last eight games.
“We’ll use the experience we gained last year in the section final,” Anderson said. “The problem with the Roseau game (last season) was that it was a struggle for us matching Roseau’s intensity and speed in the first period.
“We were on our heels and we dug ourselves too big of a hole.”
To get to the state tournament, the Storm’N Sabres will likely need to go through NWC and Roseau, teams Sartell/Sauk Rapids lost to earlier this season. NWC beat Sartell/Sauk Rapids 7-0 in the first game of the season and Roseau won a 5-3 game Jan. 25.
“North Wright County is a head above the other teams and Roseau is a good No. 2,” Anderson said. “You’re going to have to beat both those teams to get to state but our focus is Saturday night.
St. Cloud is also feeling confident about doing some damage in Section 8-2A.
“We can be successful and get past Bemidji but North Wright County is the team to beat,” said Icebreakers coach Mark Chamernick.
Alexie Portz has the team lead in goals (15), Mackenzie Feeny leads the Icebreakers in assists (19) and both have a team-high 30 points.
Lucy Gaetz has been reliable in net for St. Cloud in net with a .918 save percentage and a 2.23 goals against average.
The Icebreakers beat Bemidji 3-1 on Nov. 23.
“I’m a little frustrated we’re not playing at home to start out the playoffs at home at the MAC,” Chamernick said. “We beat (Bemidji) and we have a better record, but the Section 8-2A coaches have voted.”