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Cottage Grove Hockey Association: Wolfpack 'A' PeeWees sixth in state

The Cottage Grove 'A' PeeWee boys hockey team finished in sixth place in the state tournament last week. Team members are: From left, front row, Brady Newpower, Ryan Lucas, Nathan Larson, Luke Maul, Sam Gieser, Zach Husaby, Keegan Oberding; and back, head coach Andy Bestler, Mason Porter, Travis Montez, Grant Glazier, Adam Fenenga, Zach Strafelda, Zakk Morse, Andy Hawn and coach Mike Gelao.

The surprising run by the Cottage Grove Hockey Association "A" PeeWee team came to an end last week with a sixth-place finish at the Minnesota Hockey state tournament, held March 15-17, in Faribault.

Luverne, ranked eighth in the state, edged fourth-ranked Cottage Grove 1-0 in the first round of the tournament. Luverne scored 13 minutes and 30 seconds into the first period and held on for the win.

Cottage Grove bounced back with a 4-1 win over seventh-ranked East Grand Forks in the consolation semifinals, but was defeated 2-0 by fifth-ranked Virginia in the consolation championship game.

No. 2-ranked Minneapolis won the "A" PeeWee state championship, beating third-ranked Orono 5-4 in the title game.

Cottage Grove won the District 8 tournament championship and the "A" PeeWee East Region championship, upsetting No. 1-ranked Edina in the final, to punch a ticket to state. It's believed the last time a Cottage Grove Pee Wee team made it to the state tournament was 22 years ago.

In the District 8 tournament, held Feb. 17-24 at Wakota Arena in South St. Paul, Cottage Grove beat Apple Valley 3-2 in overtime in the first game and upset No. 1-seed Sibley 4-3 in the championship, qualifying for the East Regionals. In the regional tournament, held March 1-3 back at Wakota, Cottage Grove edged Shakopee 5-4 in the opening round, beat North St. Paul 4-3 in the semifinals and took down Edina White 2-1 in the championship game.

This year, for the first time, Minnesota split PeeWees and Bantams into "A" and "AA," much like high school hockey. For the season, Cottage Grove, which was coached by Park 2002 graduate Andy Bestler was 18-22-5 overall and 2-10-4 in district play at the "A" level.