by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River-Zimmerman was given an opening to earn a share of the conference championship on Saturday evening, and came through.
The Elks pulled out a 3-1 victory over Centennial on a pair of goals by Josie Brown in the final six minutes and tied Anokta for the Northwest Suburban crown.
The No. 7 ranked Elks (18-3-3) and No. 3 ranked Anoka (21-2-2) wound up with identical 14-2-2 records, as Anoka, the sole leader all season, was beaten by Andover 3-1 earlier Saturday.
The Elks and Centennial were knotted at 1-1 when Brown scored on a power play with six minutes left, muscling the puck past a defenseman and goalie Phaylen Meyer from about eight feet.
Ahead 2-1, the Elks killed a power play late in the game, then were shorthanded again with a minute left when Jonnna Curtis was called for interference.
Centenial pulled its goalie and was skating 6-on-4, but the Elks got the puck cleared along the boards and sent it to Brown at mid-ice with nobody in front of her. Brown fired a shot from the blue line that connected for the clincher with 40 seconds left.
Jordan McLaughlin punched in the Elks’ first goal on a rebound early in the second period after the Cougars scored on a power play.
Brown and McLaughlin, a freshman, each have 10 goals, second on the team behind Curtis’ 34.
The Elks lost to Anoka 3-1 on Dec. 13 and tied the Tornadoes 1-1 on Jan. 24.
Anoka had losses to Blaine and Andover and ties against the Elks and Centennial. The Elks’ other loss was to Andover 2-0, and they tied Armstrong 2-2 right after the Anoka tie.
The Elks are seeded first in Section 7AA and will have a first-round bye Thursday. They will host the winner of Duluth vs. Cambridge-Isanti-Mora-Pine City next Saturday in the semifinals.