There’s an old adage in sports that it’s not how you start it’s how you finish.
Despite a 16-game winning streak during the regular season a late swoon proved costly for Redwood Valley (17-6-1) as they fell 6-3 to seventh-seeded Luverne (11-12-1) Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Section 3A Boys Hockey Tournament.
Luverne - which needed to score three goals in the final four minutes Tuesday against Worthington just to move on in the postseason - avenged a pair of 7-1 regular season losses to Redwood Valley and will now advance to face New Ulm Tuesday night in the semifinals.
The Cardinals meanwhile are left to think about what might have been after securing the number two seed for the first time in school history but finishing out the season 0-4-1 in its final five games.
Thursday night, things got off to a good start as Eric Miller took a gorgeous feed from Eric Hanson and slipped the puck through the five-hole for a 1-0 Redwood Valley lead six minutes into the contest.
As they did all night, Luverne had a quick answer as Dylan Skattum scored just 1:33 later to tie the score.
With under two minutes left in the period, Skylar Sweir would score a power play goal and Luverne would go into the first intermission up 2-1.
A spirited Redwood Valley squad came out flying in the second period, dominating the action as Hanson scored at the 7:18 mark on a quick-hitter in front of the net from Miller.
A nice power play kill by the Cardinals with under 30 seconds left in the period led to the go-ahead goal as Miller made a great feed to Jordan Skeie in front of the net and he stuffed it past goalie Nate Thompson to put the Cards up 3-2 after two periods.
The turning point in the game came quickly in the third as Luverne’s Chase Hoffman scored just 10 seconds into the period to tie the score and completely swing the momentum back to Luverne.
Josh Connell would put Luverne up 4-3 just three minutes later and a goal by Connor Fitzer at the 9:19 mark essentially put the game away.
Redwood Valley would have a few late scoring chances but could not find the net and Collin Rofshus short-handed goal would cap off the scoring.
Senior John Rebstock would finish with 29 saves in his final game in net as Luverne outshot Redwood Valley 35-27 in the game.
Seniors Erik Lyrvall and Jacob Skeie both had assists.
Hutchinson defeated Sleepy Eye/SESM 8-1, New Ulm topped Windom Area 8-1 and Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato held off Marshall 3-1 in other quarterfinal action.