By: Greg DeVillers, Grand Forks Herald
Tim Bergland summed it up best: “Here we go again.”
For the third straight year, and the seventh time in the last nine seasons, Bergland’s Thief River Falls boys hockey team plays Warroad in the Section 8A championship. The teams meet at 7 tonight in Thief River Falls, with the winner advancing to the Minnesota state tournament.
Warroad has beaten the Prowlers in four of the last six section finals. Routinely, the games are close — Warroad’s 4-1 win in the 2005 final was the biggest margin of victory. Last season, Warroad won 2-0; the season before, it was 3-2. The Prowlers beat Warroad 3-2 in four overtimes in 2006, with Warroad winning 2-1 the next season.
“I don’t expect a shootout this time, either,” Warroad coach Albert Hasbargen said. “Both teams are well-coached. The priority in both programs has always been defense first. We’ve both had powerful offenses, but it’s been low-scoring affairs when we meet in the playoffs.”
The teams have a different look from a year ago.
Hasbargen said 75 percent of last season’s offense graduated last spring. Nick Stoskopf (18 goals, 19 assists), David Nelson (19-17) and Carson Gray (7-27) pace the four-time defending section champion Warriors. “We’re not as dominant on offense as we’ve been,” Hasbargen said.