Ponies leave FL limping into playoffs

Hockey boys opened sections at Grand Rapids on Tuesday

Kyle Parker gets upended in last week's loss against Stillwater. (Photo by Clint Riese)

The Ranger boys’ hockey team was hammered by Stillwater in the regular season finale last Thursday. Forest Lake hoped to build some momentum in what is certain to be a tough Section 7AA tournament, but instead it found itself losing 6-1 at home.

“That was definitely not the effort we needed heading into playoffs,” said coach Aaron Forsythe. “Before the game we talked about setting the tone as if it were a section game.  The Stillwater kids did just that and our players didn’t have an answer for it – it was frustrating to say the least.”

The Rangers put more shots on goal all night, but Pony goalie Blake Cates notched 33 saves.

Stillwater took advantage of a penalty late in the first period and scored on a deep slapshot on a powerplay. A nearly identical powerplay goal gave the visitors a 2-0 lead halfway through the second period. They added two more late in the period, including a third powerplay score.

Lucas Kohls got the Rangers on the board early in the third period, but Stillwater closed out the scoring with two more goals. Each Pony goal came from a different player, while Mitch Reinke had three assists.

Brian Levorson had 15 saves and took the loss in net for Forest Lake, which fell to 11-13-1.



Section Outlook

That record earned the Rangers the sixth seed in the loaded section tournament. That brought a re-match this Tuesday with No. 11 Grand Rapids, the third seed. (The game took place after the Forest Lake Times press deadline. See www.forestlaketimes.com for an update.)

The Thunderhawks blanked Forest Lake 6-0 up north on Dec. 2 and have a record of 19-6.

Forsythe had no gripes with his team’s seeding, but expected Grand Rapids to edge Andover for the second seed.

Top-ranked Duluth East is the section’s top seed, while Andover and fourth-seeded Elk River will also host home games. The semifinals will be held Saturday in Duluth.