2012 Class AA State Championship Recap

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Hill-Murray Pioneers 1 - 5 Benilde-St. Margaret's Red Knights

Apparently both teams got the exact same memo, because they came out hitting right from the drop of the puck. There wouldn't be any "feeling out" period, as both teams went straight at each other. The game was still new and the ice still clean when the big hits started flying. The scoring opened about halfway through the period when Grant Besse fired a shot past Dugas just as a Hill-Murray penalty expired. Besse wasn't done, as he intercepted a very bad clearing attempt by the Pioneer net and beat Dugas to put the Red Knights up 2-0. Some fantastic saves by Quale would hold the Red Knight lead after one, but with Hill-Murray threatening on the powerplay.

Once the Red Knights got the kill, play seemed to even out more. The big hits still continued, but neither side seemed to have a clear advantage over the other. The back and forth, teeter-totter action slowed down, but both sides still got their looks. A scary moment occurred when Grant Besse wen hard into the boards and looked shaken up, but he was able to get up and skate off under his own power. The hit didn't seem to slow Besse, as he took a nice feed and scored his hat-trick goal shorthanded to extend the lead to 3-0. The goal gave Besse the Natural Hat Trick, something to be proud of. The 2nd period would end with Benilde up by 3 and the Hill-Murray Pioneers down to 17 minutes.

The Red Knights needed a solid 17-minute effort on defense to take this title, and they opened the period playing smart in the neutral zone; however, a dumb penalty allowed the Pioneers to finally get on the board. Charlie Sampair and Jake Guentzel worked a nice give-and-go, opening a shooting lane for Zach LaValle. The powerplay tally made it 3-1 and gave new life to the Pioneers. It got worse for the Red Knights when captain Jake Horton was ejected for spearing.

The Pioneers now had a 5-minute major powerplay to work with, down by 2 goals. It seemed like Benilde might get caught reeling, but Grant Besse saved the day when he took a blocked shot all the way and fired another shot past Dugas to put Benilde-St. Margaret's back up by 3. That was 4 on the night for Besse. It got worse for Hill-Murray when Blake Heinrich took a slashing penalty, negating two minutes of their powerplay. The Pioneers would take another penalty shortly after, giving the Red Knights a 4-on-3 powerplay. In the span of 1:44, the Pioneers went from having a 5-minute major to work with, to giving up a shorthanded goal, and then found themselves kill a 4-on-3. The Red Knights didn't score on their powerplay, but the damage was done. The Pioneers gave up precious mintues on the major infraction.

The Pioneers were given another powerplay through some undisciplined play by Benilde, but once again, it was Grant Besse who found the back of the net. That was his 5th goal of the night, and his 3rd shorthanded. The rest of the game was show, as the Red Knights had this game locked up.

Hill-Murray had no answer for Grant Besse. He would not be stopped on this evening. He and Quale but this Red Knights team on their backs and carried them all night. Quale made the big saves when he needed to, as Hill-Murray put 25 shots on net, while Grant Besse was a one-man wrecking crew.

This has to be one of the most emotional wins in the history of the State Tournament. Wearing #13 on their jerseys, the Red Knights definitley won this one for Jack Jablonski.

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