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Boys hockey playoffs have arrived
When the Mounds View High School boys hockey team opened the season with a 10-6 loss to North St. Paul, it looked like it might be a long winter for the Mustangs. Mounds View rebounded from that shaky opener and ended up with its most victories in a season since 2012.
Mounds View closed out the regular season by winning three of its final four games to finish with a record of 13-10-2. The last time the Mustangs won more than 13 games in a season was the 2011-12 campaign when they were 14-10-1.
Mounds View earned the No. 4 seed in the Section 4AA playoffs and faces fifth-seeded Woodbury in the quarterfinals on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. at Aldrich Arena.
Mounds View hasn’t been seeded as high No. 4 since the aforementioned 2011-12 season. The Mustangs were also seeded fourth that year but lost in the quarterfinals to Stillwater. Mounds View hasn’t been seeded higher than fourth in the section playoffs in more than 20 years.
The Woodbury team that Mounds View faces in the section quarterfinals finished with a better overall record than the Mustangs but finished one spot behind them in the Suburban East Conference standings. The two conference rivals split their season series with Mounds View claiming a 5-4 win on Dec. 22 and the Royals returning the favor 3-1 on Feb. 2.
The loss to Woodbury on Feb. 2 snapped a five-game unbeaten streak for Mounds View, which won consecutive games over East Ridge, Irondale and Park-Cottage Grove before tying White Bear Lake. Following the tie, Mounds View drilled Forest Lake 7-2 and then fell to Woodbury.
The Mounds View/Woodbury winner advances to the section semifinals on Feb. 28 against, most likely, top-seeded Stillwater.
Hill-Murray ended up as the No. 2 seed and White Bear Lake drew the third seed. At least one of those two teams has played in the section final every year for more than 20 years.
For the second consecutive season, Irondale/St. Anthony faces North St. Paul in the first round of the Section 4AA playoffs. The Knights, seeded ninth, head into the contest looking to make it two straight post-season victories over the eighth-seeded Polars.
Irondale beat North St. Paul 4-2 in the first round in 2016 and went on to lose to Stillwater in the quarterfinals. Last year’s win over North was the Knights’ first post-season victory since 2008. The last time Irondale won a section quarterfinal playoff game was in 2000.
The winner between Irondale and North St. Paul advances to the section quarterfinals on Feb. 25 against top-seeded Stillwater.
The Knights (7-18) finished the regular season this year one game worse than last season. Irondale enters the post-season on a five-game losing streak after losing to Andover and Maple Grove last week.
Irondale’s most-recent wins came on Feb. 2 and 4 when it dumped Osseo 7-1 and Totino-Grace 4-2, respectively. The win over Totino-Grace was the second in as many seasons over the Eagles. Prior to last season, Irondale hadn’t beat Totino-Grace since 2001.
Suburban East Conference boys hockey standings (Final)
White Bear Lake
Northwest Suburban Conference boys hockey standings (Final)
Spring Lake Park