Saints end Jackets boys hockey season

In the Saturday night Section 7AA boys hockey play-in game at the Isanti Arena, St. Francis got four goals in the first period from Olli-Pekka Virtanen, and the Saints kept racking up goals to defeat Cambridge-Isanti 12-3. The Bluejackets closed the season with a 5-21 record.

C-I senior Peter Storlie got a close-in shot on goal against Saints net-minder Darion Hanson in the opening period of the Feb. 18 playoff game at Isanti. Photo & story by Greg Hunt

Early in the game, the Saints were assessed a five-minute boarding penalty, and C-I’s Matt Derby gave the Jackets a 1-0 lead by burying a shot from the right side. But the Bluejackets had trouble controlling the puck the remainder of the man-advantage as the Saints cleared it several times.

That loomed large since right after the penalty expired, SF’s Zach Foesch blasted a shot from the point that Virtanen deflected home to tie the game at 1-1. Three minutes later, Virtanen skated in all alone on C-I tender Jarad Knutson and tucked in a goal to make it 2-1.

Soon after, the Jackets’ Mitch Renstrom was called for a five-minute check-to-the-head, and the Saints’ Kyle Wagner and Virtanen scored 44 seconds apart to build a 4-1 edge. The Saints then went on a 5-on-3 advantage where the Jackets stood tall, and Brennan Osen wheeled a shot on goal which was redirected by Jordan Locken to cut the deficit to 4-2. But with 28 seconds left in the period, Virtanen notched his fourth goal on a high wrister for a 5-2 lead entering the break.

The Saints (9-15-3) knocked home five goals in the second period, including one more power-play goal, then they added two more scores in the third period to notch the easy road victory. Osen finished the scoring with a late goal for C-I.

• In the Feb. 21 quarterfinals, top-seed Duluth East (25-1) blanked No. 9 St. Francis  7-0 at home. The Greyhounds take on No. 4 Elk River (4-3 over Cloquet) in Saturday’s semifinals at Amsoil Arena. Also advancing were No. 2 Andover (10-1 over St. Michael-Alb.) and No. 6 Forest Lake (3-2 over Grand Rapids).

M-8 Boys Hockey

FINAL: Rogers 8-0, 18-6-1; St. Michael-Alb. 4-3-1, 14-10-1; Buffalo 4-4, 7-16-1; Monticello-AML 2-5-1, 6-17-2; Cambridge-Isanti 1-7, 5-21.

7AA Girls Finals: Grand Rapids 2, Elk River 1 4OT

• In In what must have been a wildly entertaining game, the Thunderhawk girls outlasted top-seed Elk River by getting a goal from Ms. Hockey nominee Molly Illikainen 2:36 into the fourth overtime period of Thursday’s Section 7AA championship battle. Grand Rapids (18-7-3) earned its third all-time trip to State which will be held Feb. 22-25 at the Xcel Center and Ridder Arena, opening against No. 2 seed Roseville (24-2-2).