Head coach Ben Noah was less than pleased at getting the No. 5 seed in the Section 8A playoffs Thursday morning in Thief River Falls and used that to motivate his team to a 1-0 upset of No. 10A Little Falls at Exchange Arena to cap off the regular season with a ninth victory in the last 10 games.
“This is the first time all year that you can say we put together three good periods of hockey,” said Noah.
The Lakers’ leading scorer Alex Bren had the deciding goal at 11:25 of the third period. He picked the puck up at his own blue line and cruised through the neutral zone to the high slot where he used the Flyers’ Joe Majerle as a screen to beat Little Falls goalie Dane Couture low for the unassisted game-winner
A slashing penalty on Little Falls’ Nick Stevens at 13:20 allowed Detroit Lakes to use the man advantage to kill two big minutes of the remaining 3:40 in the game. The Lakers did not allow a shot on goal to Little Falls the entire third period. DL outshot the Flyers 9-0 in the third.
The Lakes weathered three Flyer power plays in the first period and killed off six in the game getting stellar play in net from Jack Hines.
“Jack was awesome tonight,” said Noah. “As soon as Jack made a couple big saves for us our bench energy got up and our guys started competing and we played really good team defense.”
Hines stopped all 19 Flyers shots. It was Hines’ second shutout in as many starts and DL has not allowed a goal in the last nine periods of play recorded three straight shutouts to end the season.
“I’m just so proud of my guys. They really believe in themselves right now and it’s exciting,” said Noah. “Our seniors had a great night tonight and I thought Braeden Wimmer had his best game tonight. When you have guys that are winning races to loose pucks and finding ways to get it out of the zone and then they change hard - our guys are sprinting to the bench to get fresh legs out there. The bench was rallying all night long. It was just so fun to see everything that we’ve been trying to get these guys to do, it all came together tonight and it’s a huge quality win.”
No. 5 Detroit Lakes (14-9-2) opens the playoff run on the road in Hallock against No. 4 Kittson County Central (17-7) on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. The two teams split the season series with both clubs winning on road ice. The winner will likely have to face top-seeded Warroad (23-2) in the semifinals.
Detroit Lakes 1, Little Falls 0
DL 0 0 1 - 1
LF 0 0 0 - 0
DL - Alex Bren
Saves: DL - Jack Hines 19; LF - Dane Couture 25
Section 8A Hockey Seeds
2 East Grand Forks
3 Thief River Falls
4 Kittson County Central
5 Detroit Lakes
6 Red Lake Falls
8 Lake of the Woods
10 Park Rapids