For the third straight year, a Moose Lake youth hockey team is headed to the state tournament.
On Sunday evening, the Moose Lake Area PeeWee team topped Bemidji Blue 3-2 at regions capping off an improbable route to the state tournament. The PeeWees played poorly and lost their first game at regions against Ely 7–2 and found themselves having to work their way through the losers bracket.
Early Saturday morning, they defeated Duluth East Red 6–0 led by a hat trick from Denny Genereau and moved on to meet Silver Bay. Silver Bay had defeated Moose Lake twice earlier this season and led 2–0 heading into the third period, but the PeeWees fought back and with eight seconds to go in the game, Genereau scored to tie the game 2–2. Dilon Louzek scored the game winner in the second OT keeping Moose Lake’s state tournament hopes alive.
Early Sunday, they had a rematch against Ely. This time it was a different story. A two goal performance by Michael Lilya and some great defense and goaltending helped Moose Lake get by a scrappy Ely team 3–2 to get into their match-up against Bemidji Blue for a birth in the state tournament.
Moose Lake started fast with a first period goal by Lilya. Mark Fossum buried a one-timer from the blue line in the second for a 2–0 lead. Gavin Cunningham scored a power play goal five minutes into the third and Moose Lake had a 3–0 lead. It was the Rebels' fifth game of the weekend and they were getting tired, but the PeeWees never gave up and held off a furious Bemidji comeback for a 3-2 victory and a trip to the state tournament.
The boys will be playing in the state tournament in Cottage Grove March 15-17. The team is made up of players from Barnum, Cromwell, East Central, Willow River and Moose Lake. They are coached by Dennis Genereau and Terry Burn.
In 2011 and 2012, the Moose Lake girls 12UB team also participated in the state tournament, and went undefeated and won the state title last year. This marks the best run of success over a short number of years in the history of the youth hockey program.