Both teams are unranked. Both are undefeated. Both hail from west central Minnesota. They also play in the Central Lakes Conference, and — come playoff time —are foes in Class 1A, Section 6. Both are nicknamed the Cardinals. The similarities end, however, when it comes to playoff histories.
Alexandria has been a fixture at the state tournament, making 13 appearances, including a run of six straight from 2013 to 2018. Willmar’s two state trips came way back in 2002 and 2003.
Alexandria defeated Willmar 6-4 in a Class 1A, Section 6 semifinal last year, and both appear headed for a playoff showdown again this season. Willmar (6-0-1, 1-0-0) is primed for a tight game. It has won three one-goal games and tied Marshall 3-3 on Nov. 21. Junior Bailey Olson ranks fifth in the state in scoring with 20 points.
Alexandria (5-0-0, 1-0-0) has won five of its six games by five or more goals and has allowed just four goals all season. Sophomores Jordan O’Kane (3-0-0) and Hailee Bailey (2-0-0) have shared the goaltending duties.