Boys Hockey: Eagles look to land at the X; Irondale vs. Maple Grove Saturday

By Ryan Schleicher – Sun FOCUS Newspapers

As the season winds down, the Totino-Grace Eagles look to spread their wings into the Section 4AA playoffs. Coming off a span of three games in five days, the Eagles first round bye may come without any complaints.

Totino-Grace had to round out the regular season with a sprint to the finish line. Totino-Grace began their final leg of the season by traveling to play against Minnesota’s second best class AA team, Benilde-St. Margaret’s.

A possible state tournament preview, this game had the energy of a playoff game all around it. The Eagles scored an impressive four goals but couldn’t stop Spencer Naas from BSM who scored two goals and Grant Besse who had a hat trick en route to a 7-4 victory over Totino-Grace. T.J. Roo from Totino-Grace was able to find the back of the net to score two, of Totino’s four goals.

Totino-Grace quickly had to shift focus onto in conference opponent Chisago Lakes who has definitely been a threat all season long to shake up the standings. There, the Eagles routed Chisago Lakes 5-2, which setup a season finale showdown with Rochester Lourdes. Rochester gave Totino-Grace all they could handle, bringing it down to the wire, but the Eagles found a way to squeak out a 3-2 victory, securing them the third overall seed and a first round bye in the Section 4A tournament bracket.

The Eagles ended the regular season atop the North Suburban Conferece with an overall record of 19-6-1 and undefeated in conference record of 12-0 good for a total of 24 points—two wins better than second place St. Francis. With the seventh best skater points earner in the state, T.J. Roo, the Eagles will await the winner of Spring Lake Park against Achiever Academy for an 8 p.m. match-up at the Aldrich Arena in Maplewood on Friday night.

“X” marks the spot

Irondale may not have had the season they were hoping for in terms of how they finished in the North Suburban Conference, but regardless, everyone will agree that “X” marks the spot.

Anything can happen during tournament season. Many people might believe it’s very important each team gets an opportunity to join the dance, and most everyone would agree the best teams at the dance are the ones who can make their own music.

Irondale hopes they’ve become a finely tuned instrument as they ended their season on a high note, beating Park (Cottage Grove) 2-1. Irondale finished the regular season with a conference record of 4-8 good enough for eight points, and an overall record of 10-14-1—good enough for the sixth seed in the Section 5AA bracket. Irondale has a first-round match-up against Maple Grove who finished in the Northwest Suburban Conference with records of 14-11 (overall), 12-5 (in conference), good enough for 26 points and the third seed overall.

Maple Grove and Irondale square off at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Ice Forum in Champlin—the winner moves on to section semi-finals while the loser’s season comes to a close.