When Rochester Lourdes gets on a run, it's best to get out of the way or get run over. With a 6-1 victory over Mankato West in the Section 1A final last Wednesday, the Eagles earned the ninth state tournament bid in program history.
Interestingly, they've all come in two bursts of excellence -- the first from 2000-03 and the latest five-year string from 2009-13.
"We're the first team to go to five straight," said star forward Alex Funk, who scored four goals in the section final. "I've been blessed to go all four years (of my career) to state, and I can't get enough of my teammates and how hard they work."
It's about leading by example with Funk and his fellow seniors.
The Eagles (20-8-0) are paced by a high-powered top line that includes Funk, Jason Samuelson and Ben Weir, all seniors along with top defenseman Karl Krecke. The former two players sit 1-2 atop the school's career scoring charts and have combined for 68 goals and 147 points. they've been a part of four state tournament teams, as has coach Josh Spaniol. Yet they're still searching for their first quarterfinal round victory.
-- Tim Kolehmainen
FORWARDS: It's all about the No. 1 unit at Rochester Lourdes, which features the two most prolific scorers in program history in seniors Jason Samuelson and Alex Funk. They're both four-year varsity regulars -- speed burners with terrific hands and the ability to take over any game, which they did in the Section 1A final against Mankato West. Ben Weir adds toughness and grit to that line. The trio combined for 83 goals and 172 points, nearly 70 percent of the team's total offensive production. They'll have to come up big should Lourdes make a run at the X this week.
DEFENSE: The Eagles have a nice mix of defensemen who excel across all three zones, anchored by senior two-year captain Karl Krecke. Sophomore Griff Slightam is built from the same mold and could be considered 1a to Krecke's 1. Senior Nathan Roth is a stay-at-home blue liner who is responsible in his own zone.
GOALTENDING: Sophomore Jack Burkel has taken over regular duties since early February, starting the last seven games, including all three in the section playoffs.
Spaniol has guided Rochester Lourdes to the state tournament in each of his four years as a head coach...and was also an assistant on the 2009 squad that made it to the X. Spaniol has won 85 games in four seasons at Lourdes. The eagles are 0-for-3 in the quarterfinals at state in his tenure. Before coming to Lourdes, Spaniol was an assistant at Rochester John Marshall for two years. He is a 1994 graduate of Rochester Mayo.
Lourdes will have its hands full in the first round with a defensively strong east grand forks team. It's a contrast in styles, as offense is what powers the Eagles. Should Lourdes advance, look for big games from Alex Funk and Jason Samuelson.
2012-13 Record: 20-8-0
State trips: 2000, 01, 02, 03, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13
Coach: Josh Spaniol
Assistants: Kirk Gill, Marc Ranfranz, Tom DeVinny, Josh Chapman
Home arena: Graham Arena, Rochester
Last season: Lost to Little Falls in Class 1A consolation final, 5-4