The Prior Lake boys hockey team made a quick exit from the postseason.
The sixth-seeded Lakers’ season ended Feb. 23 with a 3-1 loss at third-seeded Shakopee in the Section 2AA quarterfinals. It was the fourth meeting between the two teams this season with the Sabers winning three of them.
Last winter, the Lakers won the Section 2AA crown to earn the program’s first-ever state berth. A lot of talent graduated from that squad, which included 11 seniors and eight of the team’s top nine scorers.
So this winter was sort of rebuilding year for Prior Lake. The team finished with an 11-14-1 overall record (8-7-1 in the South Suburban Conference).
Prior Lake won 4-1 at Shakopee back on Feb. 11. The Sabers won the first two meetings, 5-1 at Prior Lake Feb. 7 and 6-3 at home Jan. 7.
In the playoffs, the Lakers led 1-0 after the first period on a goal from sophomore Levi Eiter. Senior Joe Rice and junior Will Emerson picked up the assists.
But Shakopee took control in the second period with a pair of goals. The first one came 1:26 into the frame and the go-ahead tally came with 2:09 left to play in the period.
The Sabers scored a 1:58 into the third period for a two-goal cushion.
Prior Lake outshot Shakopee 32-21. Senior Ben Mickett finished with 18 saves for the Lakers.
Mickett finished the season with a 2.39 goals-against average, a .907 save percentage and four shutouts. He was one of eight seniors on the team with the other seven being Rice, Ben Pfannenstein, Max Revak, Parker Boyce, Marcus Lavigne, Brady Kearns and AJ Pearson.
Rice led Prior Lake in total points with 30 (12 goals, 18 assists), followed by Boyce (12 goals, 6 assists), Eiter (5 goals, 11 assists), Pavek (7 goals, 8 assists), sophomore Brayden Pelcl (5 goals, 8 assists), Emerson (4 goals, 9 assists), junior Graham Erickson (8 goals, 4 assists), Pfannenstein (10 assists), junior Brody Stephany (3 goals, 6 assists) and junior CJ Sheffield (1 goal, 5 assists).
The quarterfinal loss to Shakopee is the only second time in the last 13 seasons that the Lakers have been eliminated in the first playoff round. The other team was in 2019, a 1-0 loss to Holy Family.
It’s also only the second time in the last 14 seasons Prior Lake has finished the season with a record below. 500. The last time was at the end of the 2011 season, finishing with a 9-14-4 mark.