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Chris Murphy, Published February 25 2014

Familiar foes Moorhead, Roseau meet again for boys hockey section title

MOORHEAD – The history book of Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 boys hockey would need chapters dedicated to Roseau and Moorhead.

“Roseau-Moorhead is almost every year it seems like,” Moorhead senior captain Grant Weiss said. “It should be a good battle.”

Between the two teams are 47 section championships. The Rams and Spuds own 23 of the last 24 championships in Class 2A, Section 8 – including the last 16 – with the Spuds winning the last three.

The two will add more to their chapter, facing off in the section championship at 7 p.m. today at Thief River Falls.

“It will be an up-tempo game,” said Moorhead coach Jon Ammerman. “They like to play fast, and they have a top line that is prolific scorers. We’re going to do our best to slow them down, and hopefully our guys come out ready. With a chance to play down in St. Paul, I don’t know how much motivation you need.”

Roseau’s Zach Yon (69 points) and Alex Strand (68) finished in the top 10 in points in the state during the regular season. Yon was in the top 10 for goals with 33, and Strand was in the top 10 in assists with 43. The two have combined for 12 points in Roseau’s two playoff wins.

“They are a good team,” said Moorhead senior captain Aaron Herdt. “They have some high-flying forwards, good defensemen, good goalie, so we’re looking forward to the test.”

The Rams (19-7-1) have three players who finished with more points in the regular season than any Spuds player. Outside of Herdt’s 40 points for the Spuds (13-12-1), the Rams had five players finish with more points than any player on Moorhead.

That’s where Moorhead goalie Jacob Dittmer comes in. Dittmer has given up one goal in 85 minutes of ice time in the section playoffs.

The only goal he gave up came with 2 minutes, 49 seconds remaining in the semifinals against Brainerd, which tied the game. The fact his teammates got the winning goal less than two minutes later only helped Dittmer’s confidence.

“We have a very good defensive team and we can bury pucks,” said Dittmer, who has made 32 saves in the Spuds’ two playoff wins. “It was a confidence booster.”

Herdt and Weiss executed a perfect 2-on-1 with 1:10 remaining against Brainerd to send Moorhead to the section championship. They are hoping that wasn’t the last time the two seniors find each other.

“It’s special for me and Weiss to hook up like that,” Herdt said. “We’ve done it a lot over the years. Hopefully, we have another one left.”

Ammerman feels the last-minute win will have Moorhead prepared for the larger spotlight.

“For us to be able to grind out a win is pretty important,” Ammerman said. “Blocking shots, gaining zones and killing penalties. For us to be able to do those little things are just tremendous. We’ve come a long way. Hopefully, our dress rehearsal pays off for us in the end.”

Moorhead lost 3-0 to Roseau on Dec. 10 and tied Roseau 1-1 on Jan. 21. The Spuds feel it’s their turn.

“I feel like we’ve gotten better every single time we’ve played them,” Herdt said. “From 3-0 to a 1-1 tie to now I think maybe it’s our turn to get the ‘W’ here.”

Roseau and Moorhead may share a lot of section titles, but the Rams have something the Spuds have never touched. They have seven state championships, two in Class 2A.

Only one way to fix that.

“Score more goals than they do,” Ammerman said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548