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Lakeville North players celebrate after beating intracity rival Lakeville South for the Section 1AA championship. Photo by Alex Olson

Nick Poehling and Jack Diercks each scored twice and Erik Rutt has three assists as top-seeded Lakeville North eased past No. 3 seed Lakeville South 6-3 in the Section 1AA championship on Thursday, Feb. 28 at the Rochester Rec Center.

As has become the custom in recent years, Lakeville's two public high schools -- located two miles apart -- met on neutral ice 67 miles to the south to determine which would reach the state Class 2A tournament. 

Last year when these two teams met in the Section 1AA championship, Mr. Hockey Justin Kloos' four points helped South ease into the state tournament with a 7-1 win.

Poehling's four-point performance allowed the Panthers (11-16-1) to settle the score.

"We were just trying to get in front of the net and chip some pucks," said Poehling, who tipped two shots from defenseman Eric Rutt past Lakeville South goaltender Tyler Schumacher. 

Rutt had three assists, with Jack Diercks tipping yet another Rutt point shot in for a goal.

"He's obviously our top defender, he's a skilled guy," North coach Trent Eigner said about Rutt. "We talked all week about our defensemen getting shots through. Getting traffic to the net and pucks through to create rebound opportunities, and fortunately tonight they were there."

Jack Diercks other goal came on a 3-on-1 with assists from Nick Poehling and his twin brother Jack Poehling.

"Me and the Poehlings have great chemistry," Diercks said. "We work well together."

The teams split their regular season series. South (11-17-0) won the first game 5-1, and North won the second 7-2. There's also special ties between North and South seniors as they all play on on the same showcase team in the summer.

"We've played with and against each other since we were mites," Diercks said.

In the second period, South's Weston Baumann scored into the upper left corner while falling to the ice. The goal cut the Panthers' lead to 4-2, but the Cougars were unable to come any closer.

Goals from Blake Rutt and Matt Ostdiek allowed North to pull away in the third.

Goaltending was a big factor, with both teams enjoying several odd-man rushes. Both North's Will DuPont and South's Tyler Schumacher made stellar saves throughout. Dupont finished with 33 saves, Schumacher had 19.

"It's always fun to play against them," Diercks said.

Statistics, Summary

1. Nick Poehling, Lakeville North
The sophomore twice was able to crash the net at the right moments, getting touches on Erik Rutt's point shots. A textbook 3-on-1 play with senior Jack Diercks and Poehling's twin brother, Jack showcased the line's chemistry.

2. Erik Rutt, Lakeville North
The senior defenseman knew what he was doing with the puck, and he finished with three assists. His was part of the great puck movement on the power play that led to Poehling's tip for his first goal. Rutt had good judgement on when to pinch.

3. Jack Diercks, Lakeville North
Diercks scored on a tip and a one-timer, and the goals came 1:32 apart in the second period.

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