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Weekend hockey surprises mean somebody unexpected will make state

In front of a standing-room-only crowd at the Buffalo Civic Center, the sixth-seeded Buffalo boys hockey team continued its run in the Class 2A, Section 8 tournament with a 2-1 overtime victory Saturday over seventh-seeded St. Cloud.

The Bison were just one of the lower seeds to pull off upsets this season in the section. The Nos. 1, 2 and 3 seeds all were eliminated.

"Our section has been wide open the last couple of years," Buffalo coach Aaron Johnson said. "We felt anyone could beat anyone on a given night. It's a little surprising, but it's not."

The Bison will be underdogs in the section final Wednesday, but not as big as they might have been, because fourth-seeded Elk River/Zimmerman upset top-seeded Moorhead 4-2 at the Moorhead Sports Center.

"Everyone had an argument at the seeding table because everyone beat someone during the year," Elk River/Zimmerman coach Ben Gustafson said. "The parity in our section really shows in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds."

Goaltending proved to be the difference for both Buffalo and Elk River.

The Elks (17-9-1) were able to hold on to a two-goal lead in the third period because Gavin Greniuk made 16 saves in the final period. He had 35 for the game.

"Any team in Minnesota will tell you to have success in the playoffs your goalie has to be your best player," Gustafson said. "We knew they were going to come with everything they had in the third. Gave made some spectacular saves."

For the Bison, Max Varner made 13 saves in the third period, plus two more in overtime, to keep the score tied until they could get the winning goal. He had 34 saves in the game.

"Max is one of the best goalies in the state," Johnson said. "He's been playing great for us all year, but he has picked his game up. He made some big saves."

The Elks had a pair of one-goal leads in the first period on goals by Gavin Sperling and Kole Mears. The Spuds (13-13-1) answered both, with goals from Tyden Bergeson and Mason Kraft.

Cooper Anderson put the Spuds ahead for good with an even-strength goal :59 into the second period. Danny Babcock extended the lead to two goals with :15 left in the second period.

"To get the first goal was huge to let us settle in," Gustafson said. "Cooper's goal was huge for momentum and belief in what we were doing. Then [Babcock's] goal with less than a minute left in the second was really huge."

The Bison (10-16-1) also scored first but saw their lead evaporate minutes later. Eli Tiernan scored the first of his two goals 3:22 into the second period. Harvey Ylitalo got a loose puck behind the St. Cloud (11-15-1) net and sent a pass to Tiernan in front of the net for the winning goal.

Monticello defeats Little Falls in triple overtime in boys hockey

Ashton Stoll scored his second goal of the game 6:29 into the third overtime period to lift second-seeded Monticello past third-seeded Little Falls 3-2 in the Class 1A, Section 5 semifinal at Moose Sherritt Ice Arena.

Stoll collected a loose puck off a shot that bounced around in traffic and finished off the marathon in fitting fashion.

"It was a chaotic mess," Monticello coach Eric Nelson said. "That was probably the way it was going into the net. It wasn't going to be a pretty goal.

"Both teams played a good game. We traded shots, but by the end, after 51 minutes plus another [32 minutes], the legs were gone."

The Moose (21-5-1) took a 2-0 lead on goals by Caleb Biard and Stoll 4:02 apart in the first period.

The Flyers (17-10-0) answered with goals by Carter Oothoudt and Luke Avery 2:49 apart before the first intermission.

Numbers

3: Goals by Ben Doll in Andover's 4-1 boys hockey win over Duluth East.

5: Points by Cayden Monson in Northfield's 8-1 boys hockey win over Albert Lea.

5: Points by Brittan Alstead (two goals, three assists) in Wayzata's 7-0 boys hockey win over Holy Angels.

5: Points by Ryland Rooney (one goal, four assists) in Gentry Academy's 8-2 boys hockey win over Woodbury.

6: Points by Brody Dustin (one goal, five assists) in Stillwater's 8-2 boys hockey win over Mounds View.

52: Saves by JT Drum in East Ridge's 4-1 boys hockey loss to Hill-Murray.