Someone's '0' must go

Through the shock and the anguish, Josh Linn could see it in his teammate's eyes last March.

After a gut-wrenching double-overtime loss to Wausau West in the semifinals of the Wisconsin state hockey tournament, Linn and his Eau Claire Memorial teammates made an instant commitment to not let this season end in a similar way.

While the 2011 state tournament is still two months away, the Old Abes are already showing the focus they'll need to get back to the state tournament. Memorial improved to 12-0-0 with a 4-0 victory on Tuesday against International Falls in the opening round of the Kiwanis/Think Bank Festival at Graham Arena IV.

Memorial came into the tournament on a positive note, having beaten Wausau West, 6-3, last Thursday.

"(A state title) is our ultimate goal," said Linn, who scored twice against International Falls. "After (Wausau West) scored that goal (to end last season), I could see it in our eyes. We were going to put that time and effort in to not have that happen again this season."


Matt Knapp also scored twice for Memorial, including the game-winning goal at the 11:50 mark of the first period. Old Abes goalie Saxton Soley improved his superb stats, too, making 18 saves to earn his second shutout of the season.

"He gets out and smothers the puck," Memorial coach Mike Schwengler said. "He doesn't give up a lot of rebounds. He struggled with that last year, but has committed himself to getting better."

Memorial will face another stiff test today when it meets Rochester Lourdes (10-0-0), the No. 3-ranked Class A team in Minnesota. While the Old Abes' ultimate goal is a state title, they would like to add the Kiwanis Festival championship to the program's strong tradition. They've qualified for the state tournament six times since 2000.

"Those guys were our heroes; we grew up watching them," Linn said. "We just want to live up to their (standards) and uphold the tradition that Memorial has."


Samuelson ignites Eagles

After a game that Jason Samuelson won't forget anytime soon, he did what any good teammate would do. The Rochester Lourdes sophomore refused to take credit for his five-goal night.

"I have to give all my goals tonight to those guys," he said of linemates Alex Funk and Landon Farrell. "We're communicating well and know where each other are at all times. We have good speed and we like to forecheck, cause some turnovers."


The Samuelson-Funk-Farrell line combined for 11 points as third-ranked Lourdes remained unbeaten (10-0-0) with a victory against Dodge County.

"Those three guys really sparked us when we needed it," Lourdes coach Josh Spaniol said.

The victory lifts Lourdes into today's tournament semifinals against unbeaten Eau Claire Memorial, at 6:45 p.m. It's a matchup of the only two unbeaten teams in the tournament.

"It's a good challenge for us in our home rink," Spaniol said. "Hopefully we can match up well. We'll be aggressive — that's our style — but we'll feel it out and see what we can do."

Samuelson scored four of his five goals in the first period, completing his natural hat trick — three consecutive goals — just more than 14 minutes into the game. Funk (one goal, two assists) scored 5:02 into the second and Samuelson capped the Eagles' scoring at the 8:32 mark.

Farrell assisted on three of Samuelson's goals, including a power-play goal in the second where Farrell passed up an open shot from the point, skated the puck toward the goal, then fed Samuelson for a back-door goal.

"He's one of the fastest guys I've ever seen on the ice," Samuelson said of Farrell. "He uses his speed very well. (On the power-play goal) I called for the puck and he put it right on my stick."

Tanner Keller scored for Dodge County (3-3-0) with 3:51 remaining to break up the shutout bid by Lourdes goalie Nick Heimer (13 saves). Dodge County goalie Dustin Stevens made 19 saves and kept the score from getting out of hand, robbing Lourdes several times from close range in the first and second periods.



Eagles win shootout

Jeff Banal skated into the left circle then fired a wrist shot to the far side of Sioux Falls goalie Caleb Poe. The puck rang off the crossbar and went in, giving New Ulm a 2-1 shootout victory after the game ended in a 2-2 tie.

New Ulm (5-1-2) controlled play through the first two periods, outshooting Sioux Falls, 21-4, and taking a 2-0 lead into the third on goals by Shane Traulich and Adam Loose.

Sioux Falls (12-5-1) tied the score quickly in the third, as Brandon Miller scored twice in a span of 18 seconds to force overtime.

In the shootout, Kaleb Juntenen scored for New Ulm and Steven Miller answered for Sioux Falls. New Ulm goalie Blake Burgau then made a nice stick save on a backhand attempt by Kyle Knudson, setting up Banal's game-winning blast.

The Eagles advance to face Richfield in today's semifinals at 4:30 p.m., while Sioux Falls meets Albert Lea at noon.



Dhein leads Spartans

Mick Dhein had a hand in all but one of Richfield's goals, and Jon McGinness made a key stop on Albert Lea's top scorer in the closing minute of play to help the Spartans advance to today's semifinals.

Dhein scored twice and assisted on three others for Richfield (5-3-0), which didn't trail after the five-minute mark of the first period. Dhein's goal with 26 seconds remaining in the first gave the Spartans a 3-2 lead after one period. Jon Hauri and Peterson Patrick also scored in the first for Richfield, while Nate Stadheim and Shea Svendsen scored for Albert Lea (6-2-0).

Stadheim and Richfield's Tyler Martinez traded goals in the second period.

Dhein and Patrick scored in the third for the Spartans, while Albert Lea's top scorer, Eric Carlson scored two times for the Tigers. Carlson's second goal, 5:45 into the period, pulled Albert Lea within one. Carlson had a great chance to tie the score in the final minute of regulation, but McGinness (20 saves) slid right-to-left to rob him on a one-timer attempt at the top of the crease.

Richfield will meet New Ulm today at 4:30 p.m. for a spot in Thursday's championship, while Albert Lea faces Sioux Falls at noon in a consolation game.

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