Boys hockey: Raiders repeat as section champs

By Nick Gerhardt

Northfield’s heading back to the Class A state tournament for the second straight year after a 4-1 Section 1A championship victory over Dodge County at the Rochester Rec Center. 

It didn’t come easy for the No. 8-ranked and top-seeded Raiders (22-4-2) against the second-seeded Wildcats (19-7-1). Northfield didn’t get on the scoreboard until the second period when junior winger Will Cashin cashed in on a backhand shot 3 minutes, 52 seconds into the period. Cashin skated across the top of the goal crease and found a wide open net for his shot with an assist from senior winger Cayden Monson.

The Raiders held a 33-9 shots on goal advantage through two periods and started to ice the game away late in the third period. 

Junior winger Griffin Kennelly put Northfield in front 2-0 with a shot that richotted off Dodge County goalie Jackson Roethler’s back. It proved the game winner after the Wildcats got a goal back later in the period.

Just 17 seconds after Kennelly scored Dodge County senior forward Gideon Ellinghysen collected a loose puck in the slot and fired a shot past Raiders junior goalie Max Frank to make it 2-1. 

Northfield head coach Mike Luckraft put together his senior line of Monson, Kam Kaiser and Jake Geiger in the third period to generate some more offense and it delivered. Monson collected a puck after a strong forecheck and drove to the net to get a backhand shot past Roethler for a 3-1 lead. Senior defenseman Ty Frank assisted on the goal.

The Wildcats took a penalty at the 13:03 mark of the period but opted to pull Roethler for 5-on-5 hockey. It didn’t pan out for Dodge County as sophomore center Michael Steward fired a shot from mid-ice into the empty net for a 4-1 while on the power play.

The Raiders finished with 49 shots on goal and Max Frank tallied 14 saves in the win. Northfield will await its seeding for the Class A state tournament, which begins March 6 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Other schools headed to the tournament include second-ranked St. Cloud Cathedral, which defeated Monticello 4-1 in the Section 5 championship, Hermantown defeated Hibbing/Chisholm 4-0 to clinch the Section 7 crown and Orono beat Minneapolis 4-1 for the Section 2 title.