After a boot hockey-like 4-4 first period, top-seed Princeton locked in to defeat No. 5 Pine City-Rush City 9-4 at home in the Section 5A boys hockey semifinals. The Tigers (20-7) will play for the championship and subsequent State berth 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25 at the Isanti Arena. Taking them on will be No. 3 seed Monticello-Annandale-Maple Lake (12-14-1) who worked past No. 2 Chisago Lakes 4-1 in the Saturday night semis.
Pine City’s Brendan Westbrook notched the hat trick in the loose first period, but Jake D. Smith, Johnny Groebner, Josh Swanson and the rest of the Tiger defense shadowed him well and kept the Dragons from doing more damage. Goalie Owen Othourt came off the bench to stop 12-of-13 shots he faced over the final 40 minutes.
Goals by Cole Heinemann and Swanson in the second period broke the 4-4 tie. Tyler McAlpine enjoyed a fine six-point night with two goals in the first period and four assists total.