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Semifinal showdowns should be thrilling at state hockey tourney

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Hermantown, New Prague, East Grand Forks, St. Cloud Cathedral, Lakeville North, Eden Prairie, Edina and Eagan are all that remain in an ultra-competitive field of boys' high school hockey teams at the State Tournament.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is semifinal Friday – and the hockey promises to be exciting.

HERMANTOWN (23-4-2) vs. NEW PRAGUE (22-4-3)
The Hawks are heavy favorites in this game, having defeated New Prague in a 7-3 blowout earlier this season. Hermantown head coach Bruce Plante believes his team, along with East Grand Forks, is playing at an "elite" level, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

EAST GRAND FORKS (26-2-1) vs. ST. CLOUD CATHEDRAL (21-7-1)
Cathedral can't dig a hole like it did against Totino-Grace in the opening-round, where they trailed 3-1 after the first period. Head coach Eric Johnson admitted his Crusaders felt pressure, but he believes playing East Grand Forks as an underdog will help his team.

“Coming in as the underdog is really going to take away a lot of that pressure," he said, according to the St. Cloud Times.

LAKEVILLE NORTH (24-4-1) vs. EDEN PRAIRIE (18-8-3) 
A pair of schools with some of the most dominant athletic programs in the state should make for a tremendous game tonight. Eden Prairie head coach Lee Smith hopes his squad performs a lot better than they did against the Panthers earlier this season.

"The first time we played them, they beat us by a touchdown," he told the Pioneer Press. "I think we're better prepared this time; we're going to have to be. We don't want to get embarrassed again."

The Eagles were crushed in that December game, 7-0.

EDINA (24-4-1) vs. EAGAN (19-9-1)
A superior offense against a suffocating defense. That's what in store tonight when the high-powered Hornets, the defending state champ, takes on the Eagan Wildcats. Tyler Nanne lifted Edina over Stillwater on Thursday with four goals, including a natural hat trick in the first period. Eagan blanked Duluth East, 3-0, behind a 28-save shutout by Andrew Lindgren.

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