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A sure way to beat the height of our summer heat is to find a hockey arena and go inside. If that one happened to be Mars-Lakeview Arena, last weekend, you could get an interesting perspective on the coming season in Section 7A.
Hermantown, of course, owns that entry to the state tournament, but St Cloud Cathedral may have plans to derail the Hawks in the 2018-19 season, if last weekend’s Blackwoods Open tournament is any evidence.
St. Cloud Cathedral won its first game and ran up against Class AA Forest Lake in the semifinals last Saturday, in a game that was a tight battle for a 1-1 first period, and the Crusaders took a 4-2 lead in the second. But in the third, Cathedral’s Reid Bogenholm completed a hat trick and Cathedral ran off to an impressive 12-4 victory.
That earned a spot in the final, against East Ridge, another AA team. But Class A doesn’t bother this St. Cloud Cathedral outfit, and they skated to a 3-1 victory for the title. Marshall, by the way, was missing some of its top players for baeball and other hockey engagements, and the Hilltoppers also missed coach Brendan Flaherty, who is still hospitalized for some intense therapy fighting cancer.
High school teams get a brief run with their coaches in place each summer, and occasional tournaments are a big part of the summer preparation, and Mars-Lakeview is only halfway done, with the annual Lakeview Classic coming next week.
In next week’s Lakeview Classic tournament, which always draws an entertaining field, St. Cloud takes on Mahtomedi in Friday’s 5:30 p.m. opener, followed by Marshal meeting Bemidji at 7:45. The remaining teams hit the Mars-Lakeview ice on Saturday, with Brainerd taking on Heremantown at 8:30 a.m., followed by the 10:45 a.m. clash between Greenway of Coleraine and Benilde.
A full consolation round semifinal is at 1 p.m. for the Friday losers, with the Saturday morning losers meeting at 7:45. In between, the two semifinals will be held, the first at 3:15 for Friday’s winners, while the second semifinal follows at 5:30.
Consolation and seventh-place games will be Sunday morning, with the third-place game at 1:15 p.m., and the championship slated for 3:30 p.m.
Wimbleton? World Cup? Major Sports Climaxes
We are on major sports attraction overload, perhaps, but I feel sympathy for those sports fans who can’t be bothered to look up some of the major events at, for example, Wimbledon in tennis, or the World Cup in soccer.
Sure, we love our baseball, football, hockey and basketball, but it tells more about a person who considers himself a sports fan when you find that it’s not worth the energy to watch something like the final couple rounds of the World Cup, or the semifinals and finals at Wimbledon, which is perhaps the world cup of tennis.
Problem was, this year, the two championships were played directly opposite each other. It was impressive that Croatia, for example, took out the upstart Russian soccer team in Russia in the semifinals, to earn a spot against heavily favored France in the championship game of the World Cup, which is the largest sports event on the planet and occurs only every four years.
Meanwhile, Wimbledon was going through an amazing, upset-filled fortnight. Roger Federer, everybody’s favorite and the No. 1 seed, had the benefit of seeing the other two superstars of the sport, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, in the other bracket. Federer won the first two sets of his quarterfinal match, and was up to match point in the third set, when suddenly Kevin Anderson came to life and rallied to win that third set 7-5, then won 6-4 and 13-11 to upset Federer.
In the semifinals, Anderson (6-foot-8)faced John Isner (6-foot-10), with the anticipated classic to follow, between Nadal and Djokovic. My plans revolved around getting stuff done in time to watch Nadal and Djokovic. It didn’t happen. In the fifth and deciding set of the first semifinal, Anderson and Isner his srves up to 142 by Isner and 136 by Anderson, with Isner scoring 53 aces and Anderson 49. When it was over, Anderson won 7-6, 6-7, 6-7, 6-4, 26-24 in a match for the ages, requiring 6 1/2 hours.
Djokovic and Nadal came out late, therefore, and when Djokovic won a third-set tie-break, their match had to be postponed until Saturday. Nadal came out smoking and won the fourth set to square their match 2-2. Djokovic somehow summoned up the energy to complete the victory, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 10-8. It took two days, and a combined 5 hours and 15 minutes. That was the second longest semifinal in Wimbledon history, to the Anderson-Isner match!
Djokovic, making his comeback after failing to win a major for two years, rose to the top by completing a 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 final victory over Anderson that was nothing if not anticlimactic after the incredible semifinals.
On top of that, Germany’s Angelique Kerber shocked Serena Williams 6-3, 6-3 in the women’s final Saturday, after the epic men’s second semifinal. My problem was that the final at Wimbledon was held head-on at the same time as the World Cup final, when France ended the Cinderella run of Croatia with a 4-2 final victory.
All-Star Baseball Game shows New-Age ‘Style’
We can agree to disagree on the new-age baseball, with analytics and computer scheming replacing instinct and experience, and everybody trying so hard to hit home runs that game after game boils down to key players hitting a home run but striking out three times.
With that, the American League beat the National League 8-6 on Tuesday, but that wasn’t half the story. The American League led 5-2, then 5-3 after eight, but Scooter Gennett rocked a 2-run home run in the last of the ninth to tie it 6-6. In a 3-run top of the 10th, Houston’s George Springer and Alex Bregman hit back-to-back home runs and the American League held the Nationals to a single run in the last of the 10th to prevail 8-6.
For those not paying attention, that meant there were 10 home runs hit in the game, an All-Star game record, with each team getting five. And the American League stdruck out 13 times, while the National hitters “only” struck out 12 times. That’s baseball, in 2018.