Raiders headed to the section final

Roseville Area High School’s boys hockey team is set to do something on Friday the Raiders haven’t been able to in nine years.

Roseville is playing in a section final for the first time since 2003. The Raiders advanced to the Section 4AA championship game by virtue of their 7-3 victory over St. Paul Johnson on Wednesday night at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum.

Head coach Jeff Pauletti is hoping history is on his team’s side. In its last two section finals, Roseville, playing at the Coliseum, was victorious both times. Roseville, under then head coach Steve Sertich, beat Cretin-Derham Hall 4-3 in overtime in 2002 and a year later pasted the Raiders 5-1.

One difference with this year’s foray into the finals is that Roseville is not the favorite. Back in 2002 and 2003, the Raiders were the No. 1 seed in Section 2AA but this year they are seeded third in 4AA.

Awaiting Roseville on Friday is perennial section finalist and No. 1 seed Hill-Murray. The Pioneers, probably still stinging from last year’s upset loss to White Bear Lake in the section final, are ranked ninth in the state in Class AA by Let’s Play Hockey.

The last time Hill failed to reach the section final was 2005 when it was upset in the quarterfinals by North St. Paul.

Hill-Murray advanced to the section final by blanking fifth-seeded Stillwater 4-0 in the first game at the Coliseum on Wednesday.

By looking at the seeds, Roseville’s path to the section final appeared to get much easier after seventh-seeded St. Paul Johnson upset second-seeded White Bear Lake in the quarterfinals on Feb. 25. But there was plenty of worry considering how the Governors pulled off the quarterfinal shocker.

Trailing by four, Johnson scored four times in the final five minutes of the third period. The Governors then completed the rally by winning it in overtime.

Roseville head coach Jeff Pauletti said it took until Mark Debace’s tripping penalty with 90 seconds left in the game before he was able to assure himself that his team’s lead was safe.

That lead came about thanks largely to Roseville’s top line of Jake McCann, Tom Bartel and Greg Madden. The trio, who was just recently put together with Madden’s ascension to the No. 1 line, combined to score all seven Raiders goals and amassed an astounding 15 points.

McCann and Madden scored Roseville’s first four goals with two apiece before Bartel bagged the fifth goal. Madden then won the race to the hat trick with a goal in the final 10 seconds of the second period. Not to be outdone, McCann sparked a second littering of the ice with headwear midway through the third period.

McCann finished with seven points while Madden and Bartel had four each. Austin Colvard and Debace also got on the scoresheet with single assists.

Goaltender Zach Larson made 21 saves to pick up the victory.

Section 4AA boys hockey playoffs Play-in game Tartan 6, St. Paul Como Park 0

Quarterfinals Hill-Murray 6, Tartan 0 Stillwater 1, Mounds View 0 Roseville 3, North St. Paul 2 (2OT) St. Paul Johnson 6, White Bear Lake 5 (OT)

Semifinals Hill-Murray 4, Stillwater 0 Roseville 7, St. Paul Johnson 3

Championship game, Friday, 6 p.m. at State Fair Coliseum Roseville vs. Hill-Murray