Puck drops on playoffs Thursday

Girls face Cloquet, who they tied in November

It’s playoff time for the Ranger hockey girls. Forest Lake opens the postseason Thursday, Feb. 9, in Cloquet.

The Rangers (5-17-3) are seeded sixth in Section 7AA and take on the No. 3 seed, Cloquet-Esko-Carlton (11-12-1). The winner will advance to face either second-seeded Grand Rapids–Greenway or seventh-seeded St. Francis–North Branch on Saturday.

Elk River-Zimmerman earned the section’s top seed.

Forest Lake coach Ryan Sauter was not surprised with the seedings and likes the first-round matchup, as the Rangers and Lumberjacks played to a 1-1 tie in the season opener.

“I’m excited to get to see them again because I think we have an outside chance to take one from them if we shore up our defensive zone,” he said.

To that end, Sauter invited some of the Ranger boys to recent practices and had his team run drills against them to get a feel for fast opponents.

Last week, the Rangers finished up the regular season with a pair of Suburban East Conference losses. Cretin-Derham Hall left town with a 3-0 victory last Tuesday and the Rangers fell 6-2 in Mounds View on Saturday. Sadie Nelson and Rachel Hartshorn had third-period goals against the Mustangs, but the Rangers were already down 5-0.

See www.forestlaketimes.com for an update following the section contest.