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Blaine back in section final

02/28/2012, 10:38pm CST
By Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor

Jesse Norling scores twice, Bengals survive tense third period to beat Anoka


Blaine's Jesse Norling, left, scored twice in the second period in the Bengals 6-3 victory over Tyler Hong and Anoka. Photo by Helen Nelson

A gritty band of blue-collar grinders almost beat Blaine at its own game.
 
Almost.
 
Anoka’s stirring third-period rally aside, we should have known how this was going to end.
 
Blaine does not lose in the section semifinals. Blaine does not lose in the section finals, either.
 
The Bengals have made six straight state tournament appearances by playing a style that isn’t pretty so much as it is effective.
 
That’s an accurate description of Anoka, too. 
 
The No. 6-seeded (10-17-0) Tornadoes rallied from a three-goal deficit by scoring twice early in the third period against the Bengals, then allowed a couple of empty net goals in Blaine’s 6-3 Section 5AA semifinal triumph on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum in St. Paul.
 
No. 2 seed Blaine (18-9-0) advances to play top-seeded and No. 3 state-ranked Maple Grove on Friday at 8:30 p.m. in the section championship game at the Coliseum. The Crimson beat Osseo 5-1 in Tuesday’s first semifinal matchup.

Junior Jesse Norling celebrates a goal with teammate Michael Brodzinski during Blaine's victory over Anoka. Photo by Helen Nelson

“Our kids played well,” Anoka coach Todd Manthey said. “They played hard. They did everything except score that fourth goal. It’s not like we didn’t have opportunities.”
 
Blaine has grown accustomed to tense moments and tight situations at the Coliseum. The Bengals haven’t blown out a lot of playoff opponents over the years, and they most certainly haven’t been on the losing end of any sort of outcome.
 
“They are a tough team,” said Blaine junior Jesse Norling, who scored twice against the Tornadoes. “They are hard workers. That’s what Anoka is known for.”
 
Again, Norling might just as well have been describing the Bengals. With just two players who reached double-digit in goals during the regular season, it is only fitting that Blaine’s top scorer is a defenseman (University of Minnesota recruit Michael Brodzinski).
 
The Bengals seem to have a knack for scoring clutch goals rather than scoring goals in bulk. Norling had nine regular season goals, but flashed quick hands and a nose for the net when he scored the two big ones in a 1:27 span against Anoka in the second period.
 
“Jesse probably could have had about six goals,” said senior Dylan Lambert, one of Norling’s linemates. “He had a lot of chances. He’s a great player, and he found the seams.”
 
Lambert helped set up both Norling goals, but Blaine coach Dave Aus was just as impressed with the senior’s back checking and shot blocking.
 
“Dylan is just playing so hard for us right now,” Aus said. “Really, he’s been a real leader for us in the way that he plays. I mean he is all over the rink. And he’s just a real scrappy, grinding player who has done a great job for us.”

Statistics, Summary

Game Recap

Junior Jesse Norling scored back-to-back goals in a span of 1 minute, 27 seconds in the second period as Blaine surged to three-goal lead and then was forced to survive a tension-filed third period in a 6-3 Section 5AA semifinal victory over Anoka on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum in St. Paul.
 
No. 2 seed Blaine (18-9-0) advances to play top-seeded and No. 3 state-ranked Maple Grove on Friday at 8:30 p.m. in the section championship game at the Coliseum. The Crimson beat Osseo 5-1 in Tuesday’s first semifinal matchup.
 
No. 6 seed Anoka (10-17-0) rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the third on goals by Dylan Adler and Tyler Hong in the opening 6:29 of the period.
 
The Tornadoes had several chances to tie the score at 4 but missed the net on at least two golden opportunities. They outshot the six-time defending section champion Bengals 14-7 in the third.
 
Blane put the game out of reach with empty net goals by Jack Micek and Michael Brodzinski in the final minute. The goal was the second of the night for Brodzinski, a junior defenseman who has committed to play at the University of Minnesota.
 
Senior Dylan Lambert assisted on both of Norling’s goals and made a crucial defensive play, dropping to the ice to block a shot with his chest with the Bengals holding a 4-3 lead late in the third.
 
Blaine goaltender Nick Malvin made 32 saves. Anoka’s Robbie Goor finished with 25 stops.
A gritty junior forward who possesses a scoring knack, Norling was rewarded for his constant forays to the net with two second-period goals and numerous other point-blank scoring chances. 
 
A senior forward who knows all about the pressure of playoff hockey, Lambert helped set up both of Norling’s goals and was a force defensively while often matched against Anoka’s top line.
 
Adler, a junior defenseman, scored the Tornadoes’ second goal on a low wrist shot from the point and assisted on their third goal just more than a minute later.

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