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'Jacks feel tested for playoff run

With just two games remaining in the regular season, the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boy's hockey team is fighting for seeding in the upcoming Section 7A tournament.

"Right now we could be anywhere from the No. 2 seed to the No. 4 seed," said CEC coach Shea Walters.

Heading into Thursday's game with Sartell, the Lumberjacks were sporting a record of 10-13 - with all but three of those losses coming to Class AA teams and the other three losses coming against teams ranked in the Class A top 10.

"Even though we are in Class A this season, we continue to play a very tough schedule against mostly AA teams and that is the way we want it," Walters said. "That will help us get better when tournament time comes."

Walters hopes that the difficult schedule will pay dividends in what may be the deepest Section 7A tournament in many years.

"The section probably has not been this competitive from top to bottom in a heck of a long time," Walters said. "Hermantown is still the favorite, but Proctor is very good, so is Hibbing and we'd like to think we are in that mix, so it should be a very good tournament."

It was a tough week for CEC last week as they dropped a 6-1 decision at home to the section's top team Hermantown on Thursday, and then fell 6-2 on the road to Champlin Park on Saturday afternoon. In both games the Lumberjacks were within striking distance entering the third period, but they were unable to come away with a win.

"Lately we've given up way too many third period goals and our power play is not where we want it or need it to be," Walters said. "We need to defend harder as a team and not give up so many odd-man rushes. Honestly, we will also need our goalies to be at their best down the stretch and in the playoffs."

The 'Jacks lone goal against Hermantown was scored by Grady Knutson while Bobby Thornton and Karson Young scored against Champlin Park.

After playing at Sartell on Thursday, the Lumberjacks wrap up their regular season at home against Section 8AA power Roseau at 1 p.m. Saturday.

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