Tyler Seeling scored a hat trick when the No. 2 seeded Northern Lakes Lightning defeated the best-staffed Monticello Moose 6-3 and won the Section 5-1A Championship in Monticello on Thursday, March 25th. This was also the first time the Blitz was in a section championship game.
"Our team did everything we asked them to," said Lightning head coach Craig Larson. "You showed up and just worked so hard. You deserved it."
Penalties played a key role early in the game, with the first three points all coming down to the power game.
Seeling started late in the first half with a power play goal and Caiden Kjelstrom scored a power play goal of his own just over a minute later.
After allowing a goal and not scoring in the second period, lightning shot in the final stanza when Kyler Couture scored a goal early in the period to get going again. However, Monticello responded a moment later with a goal of his own, bringing the result to 3-2 in favor of Blitz.
"They are a good team," said Larson. “They were humming and doing some good things so we had to make some adjustments. Our children just had to show up and be in the right place at the right time – take care of their work and not fall on themselves when they made a mistake. You just did a hell of a job tonight. "
Seeling responded with his second goal of the game and Erik Larsen scored his first goal with just under four minutes of playing time.
The Elks managed to score again after pulling their goalkeeper, but Seeling scored an empty goal 49 seconds from time to seal the win.
"Our coaching staff is still a little confused and wondering if this is real," said Larson after the section game. "When I started here eight years ago I saw a group of Squirts who had some pretty good skaters – names like (Hunter) Nybakken, Larsen, and Couture – and I said, 'If these guys stay on track and stay committed, if they are, it will be successful. This is the culmination of that success. This is what you train for. "
Blitz goalkeeper Adler Hoagland stopped 30 shots as Northern Lakes prepared for the first state tournament in program history in St. Paul on Tuesday, March 30th.
"This is a special time and we need to be prepared for anything," said Larson. “We only take a moment. Sometimes it's pretty short moments but we're going to record them all … we're going to make this the best experience you have ever had in the game of hockey. "
Although the game took place on Monticello's home ice, many Lightning fans traveled to Elchland and, according to the coach, were "100% louder" than the home crowd.
"They were clearly excited for us," said Larson. "You must have had a good time."
Monticello 0 1 2 – 3
Northern Lakes 2 0 4 – 6
First period: NL-Tyler Seeling (Hunter Nybakken, Caiden Kjelstrom) 11:22 ppg; NL-Kjelstrom 13:15 ppg
Second period: M-Gunner Sibley (Gavin Brooks, Wilson Dahlheimer) p. 4:17
Third period: NL-Kyler Couture (Quady Bernu, Zach Ehnstrom) 2:43; M-Brooks Wilson 3:18; NL-Seeling (Couture) p. 13:04; M-Brooks (Caden Ritter, Sibley) 3:42 pm; NL-Seeling en
Shots on goal: NL 27, M 33
Goalkeeper: NL-Adler Hoagland (30 saves); M-Nash Wilson (31 saves)
Overall: NL 18-3, M 12-7-1.