Dodge County's season halted by powerful Northfield in section semifinals
Northfield's Will Cashin recorded a hat trick and the Raiders put 64 shots on goal in beating Dodge County in a Section 1A boys hockey semifinal on Saturday.
ROCHESTER — Dodge County got a glimpse Saturday at a team that very well could be playing in St. Paul in two weeks.
Northfield showed off its speed, its depth, and on occasion its standout goaltender, as the Raiders beat Dodge County 6-1 in a Section 1A semifinal game at the Rochester Recreation Center.
“I think just the speed and how quick Northfield moves the puck,” first-year Dodge County co-head coach Bryce Wilcox said when asked what the Wildcats could learn from Saturday’s game. “You could tell. We’re not a team that’s ready for that. Our schedule, we maybe play some laid-back hockey; we don’t want to play that way, it’s just how it comes to be. When you play against a team like Northfield, they’re so fast and physical and hard on the puck.
“You could see in spurts, where our guys pick it up and start playing that way. If we could play a team like (Northfield) every game of the season, you think of how much better you’d get.”
The top-seeded Raiders advance to the Section 1A championship game where they’ll face defending section champion New Prague at 7 p.m. Wednesday, with the winner heading to the Class A state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center, March 8-11.
Northfield, like the other three Section 1A semifinalists, played a quarterfinal game Friday night, then made the quick turnaround to play a semifinal early Saturday afternoon. The Raiders are looking for their first section title since 2017.
“We have depth, which is an advantage,” Raiders coach Mike Luckraft said. “I thought, even going into the redirection of the playoff games, if we could get through (Friday) night’s game, the depth might play a factor in (Saturday’s) game.
“(Dodge County) has some very skilled guys, very talented guys, but they have a little shorter of a bench than we do, so we tried to manage that and just kind of methodically make them work and finish plays when we had chances.”
Northfield took control early in the game and netted the game-winning goal less than four minutes into the game when Kamden Kaiser finished a perfect pass from Jake Geiger for his 40th goal of the season. Griffin Kennelly scored on a power play 14:01 into the period to give the top-seeded Raiders a 2-0 lead after one period.
Northfield added the first two goals of the second period before the Wildcats got on the board when Brett Ludvigsen put back a rebound of a Dylan Klomps shot 5:36 into the period to pull the Wildcats within 4-1. The Raiders answered, though, as Cashin scored twice in a 7-minute span to cap his hat trick and make it 6-1 after two.
Dodge County says goodbye to three key seniors — forwards Nels Carstensen and Riley Freiderich, and defenseman Spencer Nierman.
“Nels, he brings just grittiness and hard work,” Wilcox said. “That’s hard to lose because when you have a guy like him, everybody follows him.
“Riley, he’s a jack of all trades, can use him wherever you need to. He can really play the game when he wants to. Then, Nierman, I’m going to miss him. Just his attitude and personality, he’s always smiling. He did everything we asked him to do this year, filling that third or fourth slot as a defenseman.
“Each one brings something different to the table and unfortunately we lose that.”
The Wildcats will have some talented returning players next season, led by current sophomore Brett Ludvigsen (22 goals, 52 points) and junior Gryffon Funke (31 goals, 49 points), and junior goalie Jackson Roethler. He made 58 saves Saturday as Northfield put 64 shots on goal.
“I think we have to be one of the youngest teams in the section; we’re only losing three guys,” Wilcox said, “but overall, the mentality of the team, we’re just trying to instill a work ethic that maybe hasn’t been part of Wildcat hockey in the past. The will to win, the refusal to lose, we saw spurts of it this year. There are some kids who for sure bought in and the other ones are getting there. All we can do is keep building off of that.”
Dodge County’s season ends with a 16-10-0 record. Northfield is 22-5-0.
NORTHFIELD 6, DODGE COUNTY 1
Dodge Co. 0-1-0 — 1
Northfield 2-4-0 — 6
First period — 1. N, Kamden Kaiser 40 (Jake Geiger 33, Andrew Winter 13) 3:15. 2. N, Griffin Kennelly 3 (Bridger Riley 14, Brayden Olsen 23) 14:01 (pp). Second period — 3. N, Will Cashin 11 (Cayden Monson 35, Elliott Pontow 7) 2:02. 4. N, Brayden Olsen 15 (Cashin 28, Mike Fossum 30) 4:16. 5. DC, Brett Ludvigsen 22 (Dylan Klomps 14, Griffin Gibbs 5) 5:36. 6. N, Cashin 11 (Monson 36) 6:58. 7. N, Cashin 12 (Brecken Riley 10, Bridger Riley 15) 13:54. Third period — no scoring.
Shots on goal — DC 2-8-3—13; N 20-29-15—64. Goalies — DC, Jackson Roethler (L, 12-10-0; 58 saves); N, Keaton Walock (W, 22-4-0; 12 saves). Power-play opportunities — DC, none; N, 1-for-3. Penalties — DC 4-8 minutes; N 2-4 minutes.
New Prague 7, Albert Lea 5
New Prague and Albert Lea were tied 5-5 as lightning-fast Albert Lea standout Joseph Yoon flew toward the New Prague goal with less than a minute play in the third period of a Section 1A semifinal game Saturday at the Rochester Rec Center.
Yoon got Trojans goalie Cole Murphy leaning one way, so he shot the puck the other way.
Dozens of Tigers fans hopped out of their seats and had their arms in the air.
Yoon’s shot hit the crossbar and fell harmlessly to the open ice.
Seconds later the Trojans were headed the other way with the puck, and with thoughts skating in their heads of not wanting to go to overtime.
They didn’t have to.
Will Seymour scored his second goal of the game with 24.9 seconds to play, allowing the maroon-clad Trojans fans to jump out of their seats with excitement and sheer joy. Then, 16 seconds later, Seymour capped his hat trick with an empty-net goal to give New Prague a 7-5 victory and a spot in the Section 1A title game for a second straight year.
The Trojans won it a year ago, beating Albert Lea 5-2.
This time, they’ll face Northfield, the team they beat in overtime in the section semifinals last season.
Saturday, the teams combined for six goals in the third period and traded the lead five times.
New Prague took advantage of seven power-play opportunities, scoring on three of them — one 5-on-4 goal, one 5-on-3 goal and one 4-on-3 goal.
Eli Farris scored twice for Albert Lea, while Connor Pirsig, Yoon and Max Edwin scored once each.
NEW PRAGUE 7, ALBERT LEA 5
Albert Lea 1-2-2 — 5
New Prague 1-2-4 — 7
First period — 1. AL, Connor Pirsig 11 (Max Edwin 12, Gavin Quam 3) 2:22. 2. NP, Braden Woitas 18 (Michael Beckius 18, Breck Hagen 9) 9:39.
Second period — 3. NP, Beckius 10 (Hagen 10) 1:00 (pp). 4. AL, Joseph Yoon 27 (Bryant Johnston 4) 3:54. 5. AL, Edwin 13 (Jack Ladlie 13) 6:13. 6. NP, John Schmidt 21 (Owen Wilkins 13, Michael Beckius 18) 13:41 (5x3 pp).
Third period — 7. NP, Will Seymour 22 (Hagen 11, Beckius 19) :20 (4x3 pp). 8. AL, Eli Farris 13 (unassisted) 3:18. 9. AL, Eli Farris 14 (unassisted) 10:04. 10. NP, Hagen 4 (unassisted) 14:40. 11. NP, Seymour 23 (unassisted) 16:35 12. NP, Seymour 24 (Schmidt 29) 16:51 (en).
Shots on goal — AL 6-9-16—31; NP 13-19-15—47. Goalies — AL, Dakota Jahnke (L, 13-6-1; 41 saves-46 shots); NP, Cole Murphy (W, 5-5-0; 26 saves-31 shots). Power-play opportunities — AL, 0-for-4; NP, 3-for-7. Penalties — AL 7-17 minutes; NP 4-8 minutes.