The puck dropped on the opening day of the Minnesota State Boys High School Hockey Tournament with Class A kicking it off. Anyone else have goosebumps before it began with the anticipation of this great spectacle? I did and when watching the intro and hearing the voice of the great Doc Emrick, I was blown away. We had our first female ever calling the play-by-play for the boy’s tournament in the first session. Sloane Martin, a WCCO radio news reporter did a great job. In the second session, we got a throw back and got to listen to Wally Shaver. For me, he’s iconic. It’s the voice I know and love from a young age watching the tourney. Who doesn’t love him saying aGAINst? So comforting to hear Wally again, I’ll sleep soundly tonight after hearing that man call the games. Oh, Mark Parrish did a solid job too. Let’s recap the first day...
#2 St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders vs. North Branch Vikings
St. Cloud – 7
North Branch – 0
Crusaders Goals: Savoie, Smith, Warner (3), Schmidt (2)
Vikings Goals: None
Due to the nature of the seedings and the potential for Class A to have more disparities between teams, there is a greater chance for lopsided affairs. Unfortunately, this was one of them. St. Cloud coming in as the #2 seed showed why they have the potential to win it all. North Branch held their own for the first period keeping it to only 1-0 at the end of the period. They could not keep the Crusaders down for long and once they flexed their muscles in the 2nd period, the game began to get out of hand with 5 goals in the period. Junior, Nate Warner (Gopher Commit) scored a hat trick and is certainly well on his way to being named to the All-Tournament Team.
As I predicted, the Crusaders roll to an easy victory and one step closer to a potential first title for the city of St. Cloud. Much has been said about North Branch and not having a home rink, traveling to nearby cities for ice time before school. Someone nominate them for Kraft’s hockeyville so they can get some much needed grant money. Don’t hang your head boys from NB, you made the tourney and something you’ll never forget. They may have lost the hockey game, but they certainly won the hair game. #StrongSalad.
#3 East Grand Forks vs. Minnesota River Bulldogs
East Grand Forks – 5
Minnesota River – 2
Green Wave Goals: Galstad, Mack (2), Parker (2)
Bulldog Goals: Reicks (2)
In game two of the afternoon we had a little more competition. EGF started out strong and looked like the usual Green Wave team, northern boys ready to rumble. They got out a 3-0 lead mid-way through the 2nd period before Minnesota River got on the board and got a little more jump in their step. They got a late period goal that was a bit of a fluke. If you’re a Wild fan that would only be described as a Dubnyk softee. Shots fired, I know. There was a moment where we thought there might be an upset alert but, EGF put a kibosh to that at the start of the 3rd period when they scored a shorty just one minute in and followed up with another quick one just a minute later. That buried the Bulldogs.
After the first session, I was perfect on my predictions, which is good because I have East Grand going to the championship. Hats off to Minnesota River on making their first tournament and giving East Grand a little run for their money, kind of.
#1 Mahtomedi Zephyrs vs. New Ulm Eagles
Mahtomedi – 6
New Ulm – 0
Zephyr Goals: Metz (2), T. Paradise (2), J. Paradise, Pilarski
Eagles Goals: None
The story behind this game was, Mahtomedi won, in a route. Right from puck drop they took to it to New Ulm and were relentless on the attack. How about the goalie from New Ulm? Senior goaltender, Jack Raymond was the only stand out for New Ulm when it came to actually playing the game, New Ulm’s hair was on point but not their on ice play. He faced 20 shots, before Mahtomedi scored their first goal, which came 13 minutes in to the first period. Yep, you read that correctly 20 shots and still had shut them out. The kid ended up facing 55 shots in the game and was pressured basically the entire game. He deserves the All-Tournament Team for that work even though he gave up 6 goals. Not his fault.
Mahtomedi showed why they were the top seed, and this looks like a scary team that are poised to make a run. Not much more really needs to be said from this game as it was more lopsided than the first game of the day. Last thing, New Ulm’s uni’s were pretty solid. I liked the old school lettering that pays homage to the city and the stripes are just a classic, old time NHL sweater look. #StrongUniGame
#4 Greenway Raiders vs. #5 Delano Tigers
Greenway – 6
Delano – 4
Raiders Goals: Gernander, Lawson (2), Troumbly, Vekich, Miller
Tigers Goals: Dunnigan (2), Keranen, Peterson
As advertised, this was going to be the best matchup for the Class A session, and it did not disappoint. Delano jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead midway through the first and made Greenway look over matched. Greenway finally got on the board and looked like they started to get their feet under them and started to play high flying hockey. Delano answered right back to make 3-1 at the end of the 1st period. The 2nd period was ALL Raiders’ hockey and dominated up and down the ice. They looked like a team that slayed the giant in Hermantown and a potential dark horse for a title.
The 3rd period was back and fourth and Delano had the lead one more time before Greenway scored two quick unanswered goals and took control from there on out. They added an empty net to put the game on ice (no pun intended).
Stick tap to the Delano Tigers, they are a good team and played well. Unfortunately, they ran in to a Greenway team that has the entire state (beyond the metro) behind them and are now riding a 10-game winning streak. The combination of Donte Lawson and Ben Troumbly for Greenway are something special and will be exciting to see them continue in the tournament.
Not to toot my own horn, but I’m currently 100% for my predictions after day one. Some may say it’s easy to predict Class A, but I call it talent. We will see the four winners from day one on semifinal Friday with the matchups being St. Cloud Cathedral vs East Grand Forks and Mahtomedi vs Greenway. Should be some great games with a chance to play in the state championship final.
Day two brings the big schools and what looks to be some great hockey with terrific matchups. Look for a recap after it’s all said and done.