It’s one of the best times of the year, especially if you’re a hockey fan.
It’s section tournament time for boys hockey. All involved aim for berths in the state tournament March 4-7 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Around Central Minnesota, the focus is on two sections: 6A and 8-2A.
Quarterfinal play is Tuesday, then action moves to Saturday for semifinal action.
In 8-2A, the area’s teams are all underdogs. Seventh-seeded St. Cloud Tech (6-16-2) plays at No. 2 Moorhead (14-7-1). No. 6 River Lakes (12-10-2) plays at No. 3 Roseau (12-11-1). Both should be great experiences for the local teams. Both will need upsets to make it to Saturday. The top seed is Bemidji (19-3-2).
Then there is 6A, where one could make a case for any of the top seven seeds to win it.
Tuesday night at the Municipal Athletic Complex will be one of the premier evenings of the season. At 5 p.m., second-seeded St. Cloud Cathedral (12-11), the defending section champ, plays either No. 7 Little Falls (12-11) or No. 10 Prairie Centre (5-20). Then at about 7:15 p.m., No.5 Sartell (16-6-2) plays No. 4 St. Cloud Apollo (18-4-2).
Those are some of the best hockey tickets of the season.
No. 6 Sauk Rapids (8-14-2) has a play-in game Saturday night with No. 11 Breckenridge/Wahpeton (2-15). The winner then plays Tuesday at No. 3 Fergus Falls (17-5-3).
No. 1 Alexandria (21-2-1) plays either No. 8 Northern Lakes (9-15) or No. 9 Wadena-Deer Creek (7-18).
The semifinals are 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday at the Runestone Community Center in Alexandria. That’ll be a fun night, too. The final is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 26 in Alexandria.
Here is each team’s case for a section championship:
1. Alexandria: The Cardinals have been the best team all season, have the best balance and play very disciplined.
2. Cathedral: No team has played a tougher schedule or is more playoff-ready.
3. Fergus Falls: The Otters have scoring, a decent defense and have earned their third seed.
4. Apollo: The Eagles have outstanding goaltending and defense and have demonstrated they can play against anyone in the section.
5. Sartell: The Sabres might have the section’s highest-powered offense and are scary with a two-goal lead.
6. Sauk Rapids: No one in the section should intimidate the Storm, a very physical team.
7. Little Falls: The Flyers have demonstrated they can surprise teams. Case in point: They shut out Cathedral 3-0 on Jan. 27.
This is the opinion of Times prep sports coordinator Tom Elliott. Contact him at 259-3661 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @sctimestom