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Rochester Lourdes in familiar spot

By Jeff Knier, Hockey Hub staff, 03/03/11, 12:30PM CST

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Eagles top New Prague to win Section 1A title, hope to rewrite state tourney script

Rochester Lourdes is all too familiar with this scenario.

The top-seeded Eagles (22-3-1) won the Section 1A championship on Thursday, March 3, with a 2-0 victory over No. 3 New Prague at the Rochester Recreation Center. 

Rochester Lourdes, ranked No. 3 in Class 1A, will be making its third straight trip to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul for the state Class 1A  tournament. Quarterfinal play begins Wednesday, March 9.

Last year the Eagles played Warroad in the state tournament's opening round and was on the losing end of a 9-0 blowout. In 2009 Lourdes played Breck and lost 3-0.

Both years, the Eagles won two straight to take the consolation championship after dropping that opening game.

Second-year Eagles coach Josh Spaniol is ready for a different result at this year's tournament.  

"It's great to get there three years in a row for the program and the kids, but it's time to do something now," he said. "We have to win the first game and get our mindset right and get to work."

On Thursday, the Eagles got 14 saves from senior goaltender Nick Heimer, who allowed just two goals in three section tournament games. Senior defenseman Rory Vesel scored a power-play goal at 12:05 in the second period and finished the section tournament with three goals and an assist.

Lourdes sophomore Alex Funk scored an empty net goal with 45 seconds remaining to ice the victory.

"It's the same thing all over again and I can't even put it into words right now, it's absolutely an amazing feeling," Funk said. "We have to go in next week and play that first round game like we have every other game this year."

New Prague junior Joe Morris stopped 28 of 29 shots, but his third straight standout performance (Morris allowed two goals in the section tournament) wasn't enough for the upset-minded Trojans (14-12-2).

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Moorhead's Jack Stetz (21) throws his arms up as he and his teammates celebrated the win. ] ANTHONY SOUFFLE • anthony.souffle@startribune.com

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