Mayo primed for Section 1AA playoffs

Rochester Mayo has checked off one giant goal already this season.

The Spartans captured the program's first Big Nine Conference championship since 2001-02. After a 20-win regular season, Mayo is in prime position to challenge for a Section One, Class AA championship.

The last time Mayo advanced to state was 2002, which was also the last time it reached the 20-win mark.

This season, a 20-5-0 record has landed the Spartans the No. 2 seed in the Section 1AA playoffs. They'll open against a familiar opponent, No. 7 seeded Rochester Century, at 7 p.m. Thursday at Graham Arena I.

"Everybody talks about the cross-town rivalry," Mayo coach Lorne Grosso said, "but you just have to play your game. I don't care who you're playing against. We have to play our game. If they beat us, they beat us.


"That's why it's called sudden death. If you lose, you feel like you died."

Mayo and Century have met 10 times in the postseason, with Century holding a commanding 8-2 lead. The last two times they've met in the playoffs, Mayo has been the higher seed, but Century has won the game.

This year, though, Mayo swept the regular-season series against Century (7-18-0). Grosso said the Spartans' work ethic is the biggest reason they've had so much success this season.

"These kids have worked so hard," he said. "They're anxious (to get the playoffs started). Win or lose, this team works hard and goes right to the end. That's our whole way of playing."

Mayo is led by senior goalie Case Hansen (20-5-0, 2.07 goals-against average, .905 save percentage), forwards Adam Alcott (15 goals, 20 assists, 35 points) and Ryan Martin (16-18—34) and defensemen Tommy Fjelsted (9-15—24) and Will Holtan (9-14—23).

Century's top producers have been senior forward Dalton Travis (10-10—20) and sophomore defenseman Riese Zmolek (8-3—11), who put up his point total in less than half of a season, due to an injury.

Other matchups

• No. 5 John Marshall at No. 4 Farmington: JM (13-12-0) is perhaps the hottest team in the section heading into the postseason. The Rockets have won eight consecutive games and 10 of their past 11.


The return of forwards Gavin Sandwick and Hunter Heightland, and defenseman Alex Lovett, at about the midway point of the season, made the Rockets a different team. Heightland (13-8—21) is on a 12-game point streak, while Sandwick (13-16—29) has produced at least one point in 10 of the past 11 games.

JM goalie Jacob Garvey has steadily improved this season, too, and is playing his best at the right time. Garvey brings a 12-10-0 record into Thursday's 7 p.m. game at Farmington (12-12-1).

Farmington secured the No. 4 seed, and home ice advantage, by beating JM, 4-3, on Nov. 27, the second game of the regular season, at Farmington.

The Tigers are led by sophomore forward Justin Novak (11-17—28) and junior Jack Erickson (11-13—24). Sophomore Gage Overby (5-5-0, 2.42, .901) is the team's top goalie after senior Austin Krause left the team last week in dramatic fashion. Krause, reportedly upset at losing playing time to a younger player, shot the puck into his own net, showed his middle finger to his own coaches, then skated off the ice during a 3-2 loss to Chaska.

No. 1 Lakeville North vs. No. 8 Winona/No. 9 Dodge County: North (8-16-1), which won the section in 2010 and 2011, likely earned the No. 1 seed because of its head-to-head victory against Mayo, 3-0, in the season opener. It will face the winner of tonight's first-round game between Winona and Dodge County.

No. 6 Owatonna at No. 3 Lakeville South: South (9-16-0) played just three games against section opponents this season. The Cougars beat Century, 12-2, and split a pair of lopsided games against North (a 5-1 win on Dec. 20, a 7-2 loss on Feb. 2). Owatonna (11-13-1) has won four out of five games entering the postseason.

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