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ELY…. For the first time in 10 seasons two northern based High Schools have won State High School Boys Hockey Championships. In 2007 Roseau (28-2) won the Class AA tourney and Hermantown (29-0-1) won the Class A tournament. This year Hermantown (26-1-1) has once again won the Class A, their third title overall, besting Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake 4-3 in double OT and Grand Rapids (18-7-1) has brought home the Class AA title by beating Moorhead 6-3 for their fourth title overall. I do not have a total attendance figure for the four day event but the listed attendance for Friday nights session at St. Paul’s XCEL Energy Center was 21,485. This event still amazes me and I saw my first one in the early sixties.
Growing up on West 7th Street in St. Paul, State Tournament week always created quite a buzz in the neighborhood. Of course, there weren’t two classes back then and only 8 very high quality teams got to make the trip each year. There was always a good mix of Twin Cities schools and teams from “up north”, and the northern visitors always got a friendly greeting, a handshake and best wishes when spotted downtown St. Paul in their team letter jackets. The ‘X’ wasn’t even dreamt about yet, but the old St. Paul Auditorium had a “homey” old time feel to it and a fairly good sheet of ice. Pretty much every seat had good sightlines too. It wasn’t a huge arena like the behemoths of today, I want to say that it held about 8k for hockey. (We saw a lot of AWA wrestling there too!)
It is obvious to state that Hermantown is THE power in single A hockey in the state. But how far has the rest of the class come? H-town was taken to overtime in all three tilts of this years tourney. Rapids knocked off the double AA favorite, Eden Prairie in the semis and never really had any trouble with Moorhead in the final, going up 4-0 before Moorhead got a marker in the 2nd frame. As usual a tremendous event and hats off to all who make this special event what it is. Hats off to all except Dave Stead who just happens to be the Executive Director of the Minnesota State High School League. Big Dave is quoted as not being a fan of a phenomena known as the “All Hair Team” made up of players with the most outrageous do’s featured at the tourney.
This cult fave was evidently kicked off by a tourney fan who has made video clips of different players with the most exotic coif’s over the past few years and then post’s them on You Tube. Here is Stead’s quote; “That has absolutely nothing to do with our tournament. It’s a guy sitting in his living room taking photos off of his TV set. My concern is for the kids and the tournament’s.” Well Dave, insert Tim Allen quizzical grunting sound effect noise HERE. What the? Dave, it is High School kids having F-U-N! (suddenly I’m thinking of the Chevy Chase “fun” quote in the movie Vacation, when his Wally World experience appears to be in peril) Are you kidding me? Holy Shit Dave! Your tournament that you are all worried and protective about was just seen in 37 countries and in all 50 states! Holy hair-do’s and hockey sticks!
THE MINNESOTA WILD have just hit more turbulence then in a men’s room at a chili parlor. The boys went 1-3 last week in rather un-spectacular fashion. They kicked off the action by losing to the STL Blues and former Coach Mike Yeo in St. Paul by a 2-1 score. They hit the road for a very flat, uninspired 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay before getting their lone win of the week versus the listless Florida Panthers in a 7-4 victory. This afternoon the boys went into the Windy City to face a perennial nemesis in the Blackhawk’s and got off on the wrong foot when All Star netminder Devan Dubnyk allowed 2 goals on a like number of shots before getting the hook from Coach Bruce Boudreau. The boys got one back on a marker from Eric Staal to finish the 1st down 2-1.
You could say that from that point on the Wild tilted the rink against the Hawks a little, they outshot the Hawks 20-8 in the 2nd, 11-7 in the 3rd and 44-22 for the game. Eric Haula missed on a clean breakaway and in spite of the Wild’s play in the 2nd the Hawks got a score from D-man Trevor Van Riemsdyk to go up 3-1. But at the 46 second mark of the 3rd Mikael Granlund lit the lamp to bring the score to 3-2 but later in the period Hawks future HOFer Marian Hossa fought his way into scoring position and let a nuclear slapshot go that beat net minder Darcy Kuemper cleanly and the Hawks were up 4-2, Hawks goalie Corey Crawford was not looking like he would allow any more scores and that was that. 4-2 Hawks and that pulled them within a point of the Wild in the Central standings and the Wild still have a game in hand. What pains me about the outcome of this nationally televised game was that the Wild did not appear to be ready to go at the opening bell and in the end that was the game. 2 shots, 2 goals, less then 5 minutes in. The boys played a strong game after that, but it was already too late.
It’s not going to get any easier, staying on the road versus WAS and then CAR, the boys return to the X for tilts against the NY Rangers, and then another roadie up at the Peg for this weeks contests. After that the remainder of the month will feature 5 home games and 1 more road game to finish out the month of March. I’m not going to make any predictions but the Hawks are breathing down this teams neck. After their 12 game win streak you had to know that there would come a stretch like this at some point in the campaign. So, can they get it back in sync? Can newly obtained center Martin Hanzal settle down and assimilate in? Thus far he hasn’t. In less then a month the Stanley Cup tournament begins. Can the Wild pull their game back together by tourney time or did they peak in late December? We are about to find out…. PEACE