Only one team, other than the Roseau Rams, owns an unbeaten record against Section 8-2A boys' hockey opponents.
That team is the Northern Lakes Lightning. At 2-0, both wins against Becker/Big Lake, the Lightning own the second-best record among section teams.
Their 17-5-0 overall record also is the second best in the section. But don't expect the Lightning to get the second seed in the upcoming playoffs.
Northern Lakes will likely get the seventh spot when tournament seeding is done Wednesday.
"I don't know how we couldn't at least be seven," said Northern Lakes coach Shawn Chambers. "You have River Lakes with only one win and we beat Becker twice. I think we should be six or seven. That doesn't mean we will be. It just depends on what people think."
A weaker schedule will play a role in the Lightning's seed. Despite the best record in program history, Chambers doesn't have delusions of grandeur when it comes to Section 8-2A.
Northern Lakes is one of the smaller programs. Chambers believes the Lightning can give a higher-seeded team a game, however, and hopes that team is Brainerd. He said it would stir up interest and playing well against a larger school would validate what he's been selling to his players.
"For the most part these guys have bought into team hockey," said Chambers. "Growing up there was a lot of individual play. Now they're playing team hockey. They're letting the puck do the work. They realize they don't have to do everything themselves. The skill players have really bought into that."
The Lightning have struggled down the stretch, tying Fargo Shanley and falling 6-3 to Wadena-Deer Creek on Thursday. They bounced back with a 5-2 victory over North Branch on Saturday.
Brainerd also has stumbled of late, dropping three of four games. Losses to Roseau and the probable No. 2 seed Moorhead, and an upset loss to St. Cloud Apollo, have Brainerd at 15-8-1.
Warriors head coach Ty Eigner echoed Chambers' statement, saying a game between Brainerd and Northern Lakes would be a boost for area hockey.
"It would be fun just because it would be a big crowd at our rink," said Eigner. "Brainerd and Pequot Lakes don't play against each other in a lot of sports so it would be good for fans to see a Section 8 game. They've had a great year, winning more games than they ever have. I think it would validate what they are doing."
Eigner sees Roseau as No. 1, Moorhead No. 2 and Brainerd No. 3. Buffalo and St. Cloud Tech are vying for seeds 4 and 5 and Monticello and Northern Lakes for 6 and 7. River Lakes and Becker will round out the nine-team playoffs.
"Northern Lakes hasn't played that tough of a schedule, but they have won a lot of games and you have to give them credit for that," said Eigner. "We're playing pretty well. We played OK against Roseau. We played very well at River Lakes and played well against Apollo even though we lost. Saturday we played dead even with Moorhead."
On Monday night coaches from Section 6-1A held an informal meeting to discuss each other. With five of the nine teams all sporting nine or 10 wins there is a logjam for the third though seventh seeds.
The Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines are in that mix with a 10-13-1 overall record and 2-4-1 section mark.
"We're getting together to hash some things out," said W-DC head coach Dan Savoie. "Everyone is so close."
Three-time section champion Little Falls will get the No. 1 seed with a 10-0 section record and 20-3 overall mark. The Flyers have won 12 straight overall, 31 straight home games, but Savoie believes they can be beat.
The Alexandria Cardinals, the likely No. 2 seed, played the Flyers to a 2-1 loss Thursday and while losing to them 6-1 on Tuesday, Savoie said his team played well against the Flyers.
"It takes goaltending, defense and a little luck to beat them," said Savoie. "Alex went 2-1 against them and I think when he's on, Matt Hemingway is the best goalie in the section."
Section 6-1A seeds Wednesday.
Both section tournaments begin Saturday.
jeremy millsop, sports writer, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5856.
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