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Raiders face tough task in section playoffs
When the Roseville Area High School boys hockey team takes the ice at the State Fair Coliseum on Tuesday evening, it will be trying to accomplish something no team has been able to do in three years.
The Raiders will try to hand Hill-Murray a defeat in a Section 4AA playoff game, which hasn’t happened since the section final in 2011. The Pioneers are the top seed in the section and ranked No. 3 in the state in Class AA.
Hill-Murray has lost just three games all season and is gunning for its third consecutive trip to the state tournament. The Pioneers lost the state championship game to Benilde-St. Margaret’s two years ago and to Edina last year.
White Bear Lake is the last team to beat Hill-Murray in the section playoffs. The Bears topped the Pioneers in double overtime in the 2011 section final.
Roseville (16-7-3) is in the section semifinals for the fourth straight year and trying to reach the section championship game for the first time since 2012, when it lost 3-2 to Hill-Murray.
Roseville, the fourth seed, reached Tuesday’s semifinal by knocking off fifth-seeded Mounds View 5-1 on Saturday night at Aldrich Arena. That game was close through about the midway point of the third period before the Raiders exploded and put the game away.
After a scoreless first period, Roseville broke the deadlock with goals 80 seconds apart early in the second. Bailey Bixby got the scoring started with a goal 2:20 in off assists from Drew Liberkowski and Matt Irwin.
Josh Arnold added to the Raiders’ lead with a tally at 3:40 as he scored off assists from Corey Martinez and Riley McCann.
Mounds View was able to stop bleeding and actually made it a contest with a goal 3:24 into the third period. That would be as close as the Mustangs would get, however.
Liberkowski tallied his second goal of the game at 7:13 of the third to restore Roseville’s two-goal lead. Bixby and Irwin were credited with assists on the goal. The Raiders added a pair of insurance goals later in the period as Alex Brausen scored off an assist from Andrew Colvard and Colvard scored a goal of his own unassisted.
Quinn Huff stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced while his Mounds View counterpart Brandon Smith made 25 saves.
The Pioneers (23-3) reached the semifinals with a 6-0 victory over eighth-seeded Irondale on Saturday.
The other semifinal on Tuesday pits second-seeded White Bear Lake against third-seeded Stillwater. The Bears whipped North St. Paul 10-0 and the Ponies topped Tartan 6-3 in the quarterfinals.
Brian Meyers can be reached at email@example.com.