Owatonna opened the boys hockey playoffs with a win Thursday night over a team from Farmington, just not the team they expected to play. The Huskies topped the Tigers junior varsity 7-1 in the quarterfinal round of the Section 1AA tournament in the latest unexpected twist to playing sports during a pandemic.

OHS coach Josh Storm was informed a few days beforehand that the Tigers might need to cancel their game due to exposure to COVID. Then it appeared the Farmington varsity would be able to play. Finally, Storm learned that the Tigers would send their JV team to Owatonna.

The junior Tigers fought hard and held Owatonna scoreless for nearly 11-and-a-half minutes before the Huskies broke through with a pair of goals 25 seconds apart by Ashton Hoffman and Casey Johnson. Zach Kubicek scored in the closing seconds of the first period for a 3-0 lead at intermission.

Dom Valento and Tanner Stendel scored early in the second before Kubicek and Johnson added their second goals of the night for a 7-0 lead after two periods. Farmington scored four minutes into the third period for the 7-1 final.

Storm commented on the situation for the AM 1390 KRFO High School Coaches Show, "I feel for our kids. I feel for their kids. I can't imagine how their seniors feel. But I feel for our kids too because they put a lot of time and effort in."

The Huskies advance to the section semifinals against Lakeville North Saturday, March 20 at 7 pm with radio coverage on AM 1390 KRFO, now simulcasting at 94.7 FM.

"It's the first time I'll get to go back to the arena I grew up playing in. And I'm pretty fired up about that...I think that if our guys come out and play really hard and physical and mean, I think that they're going to be a little caught off guard by our play and I like our opportunity Saturday night to bring us into a final on Wednesday."

Ames Arena has an Olympic size sheet of ice. Storm said the Huskies would get the chance on Friday to go to Mankato and practice on a big rink.

No. 1 rated Lakeville South hosts Hastings in the other semifinal. The winners meet at the high seed on March 24.

FARMINGTON CAN'T PLAY BASKETBALL VS OWATONNA

The possibility of OHS playing Farmington's junior varsity team in boys basketball almost became a reality as well for Saturday's Section 1AAAA semifinal game. But the Tigers will simply forfeit the game, allowing Owatonna to reach Thursday's section finals by "COVID advancement."

OHS boys coach Josh Williams says he found out the news on Thursday shortly before practice, "They were debating whether they were going to play their JV team (against us)...or just forfeit the game...Never an easy decision for their kids, their players, their coaches, especially their seniors."

Lakeville South and Northfield meet in a semifinal Saturday. The winner plays Owatonna at the high seed on March 25. OHS will host Northfield if their upset the Cougars, otherwise the Huskies will travel to South.

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