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Class 1A quarterfinal preview: Luverne vs. Hermantown

By Star Tribune, 03/04/14, 10:15PM CST

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Luverne (27-0-1) vs. Hermantown (No. 2, 22-4-2), 11 a.m.

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Luverne (27-0-1) vs. Hermantown (No. 2, 22-4-2), 11 a.m.

Scouting the Cardinals: Luverne coach Derrick Brown knows his team not only will be battling first-time jitters but the perception that teams from his area tend to be overmatched in state tournament play. “In Section 3, we take some punches,” he said. “We know there will be some jelly-legs on our first couple of shifts, but we think we can play through them and be competitive.” The Cardinals have plenty of team speed, led by budding stars in junior defenseman Toby Sengvongxay and eighth-grade center Jaxon Nelson. Goalie Kendall Meyer has given up only 24 goals in 22 games.

Scouting the Hawks: Two big elements for postseason success — a skilled and poised defense and stingy goaltending — are strengths for the Hawks. Senior goaltender Jace Thomas has emerged as the postseason starter, giving up three goals in three Section 7 playoff games. The unselfish first line of Ryan Kero centering Nate Pionk and Scott Wasbotten is fun to watch, combining for 66 goals and 137 points. Hopes are high in Hermantown that the Hawks, runners-up for four consecutive years, break through this year.

Worth knowing: All of Hermantown’s 11 state tournament appearances and its one state championship — in 2007 — have come in the Class 1A tournament.

JIM PAULSEN

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