The Burnsville boys hockey team heads into the playoffs with some momentum.
The Blaze ended the regular season Feb. 15 with a 5-1 home win over No. 5-ranked Rosemount in South Suburban Conference play. The big win likely helped Burnsville jump to the No. 2 seed in Section 3AAA.
The Blaze (15-8-2 overall, 10-6-2 in the SSC) will get seventh-seeded Park (9-14-2) at home in the quarterfinals Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. Rosemount (19-6) still earned the No. 1 seed and will get eighth-seeded Apple Valley (7-17-1) in the first round.
Third-seeded Eagan (16-9) will face sixth-seeded Bloomington Jefferson (9-16) and fourth-seeded Eastview (13-11-1) will take on fifth-seeded St. Thomas Academy (15-8-2).
The semifinals are Feb. 22 at the site of the higher seed. The title game is Feb. 27 at Braemar Ice Arena in Edina at 7 p.m.
St. Thomas Academy has won the last three titles. Burnsville won the crown in 2016, beating the Cadets 7-1 in the final.
In the win over Rosemount, junior Kade Nielsen had the hat trick for the Blaze, giving him 22 goals and a team-best 45 points heading into the playoffs. He leads the team in assists with 23 and is tied with senior Korey Bell in goals scored.
Senior Korey Bell also scored in the win over the Irish, while senior Kole Pearson tallied his third goal of the season.
Senior Grant Ahcan finished with three assists, while Nielsen, Pearson, juniors Anthony Friedmann and Zach LaMotte and senior Tim Urlaub all had one.
Senior Evan Wittchow made 23 saves in goal.
Burnsville went into the Rosemount game off a 6-3 conference loss at Lakeville South Feb. 13. The Cougars scored two goals 3:45 into the third period to build a 5-1 lead.
Neilsen scored two goals for the Blaze, while junior Joe Faith had one. Ahcan and senior Bennet Botz each had two assists, while seniors Joey Anderson and Casey Myers both had one.
Wittchow made 33 saves in goal. He takes a 2.51 goals-against average into the playoffs, along with three shutouts and .906 save percentage.
Bell is second on the team in points with 33, followed by Urlaub with 31 (12 goals, 19 assists), Anderson with 27 (6 goals, 21 assists), Ahcan with 24 (6 goals, 18 assists), senior Jayden Glassen with 13 (5 goals, 8 assists) and Botz with 10 (1 goals, 9 assists).