As the No. 5 seed in the Section 3A tournament last year, Hutchinson’s boys hockey team made a surprise run until it lost to New Ulm in the championship. This year it wouldn’t be such a surprise to see the Tigers in the final as they nabbed the No. 1 seed.
The Tigers went 6-0 against section rivals, including the No. 2 seed, Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato. But anything can happen in playoffs, especially in Hutch’s section. The No. 3 seed won the section title last year, and the No. 2 seed won it the year before.
Hutch has a bye in the first round Tuesday and plays its first game at 7 p.m. Thursday at Burich Arena. It will face the winner between Fairmont, the No. 8 seed, and Willmar, the No. 9 seed.
Combined, Fairmont and Willmar have seven wins between the two of them. The Tigers didn’t play Fairmont in the regular season, but they beat Willmar 6-4 in their second game of the season.
A win Thursday night would send the Tigers to the quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Saturday in St. Peter and pit them up against the winner between Marshall and Luverne. Again, Hutch did not face Luverne in the regular season but it beat Marshall 3-1 in early December.
The final is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, in St. Peter. If the Tigers can make it to that game and pull off a victory, the team would earn its first state berth since 2009 and its fifth section title ever.
Hutchinson has had a long wait for state, but the window of opportunity is the biggest it’s been in years