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The two biggest sports events for high-school-age boys occurred last weekend, with precious little media coverage. The participants didn’t mind, but the premier Lakeview Classic hockey tournament at Mars-Lakeview Arena attracted a potent field, and St. Cloud erupted for a stunning reversal against Benilde-St. Margaret’s in the championship game.
The tournament overall deserved at least as much attention as the American Legion Sub-State 10 regional tournament, won by Lakeview against a strong field that also included Grand Rapids, the West Duluth Cubs, Brainerd, Cloquet and Thunder Bay. But the daily newspaper included neither any scores nor any schedule of pairing for the next round in either tournament.
The Lakeview Classic, in the past few years, might have been set up for Hermantown and Marshall to collide in the championship game. Instead, both were beaten in the first round of the hockey tournament.
The surprise of the event was St. Cloud, particularly after St. Cloud Cathedral made a strong showing at the Blackwoods tournament two weeks ago. Quite possibly, the recent success of the St. Cloud State Huskies has inspired an upswing in hockey around St. Cloud.
Benilde, meanwhile, appeared to be the class of the tournament after battling past Greenway of Coleraine in the first round, Saturday morning, after Brainerd defeated Hermantown in an 8:30 a.m. eye-opener — in more ways than one.
In the upper bracket, Bemidji knocked off host Marshall, and St. Cloud surprised Mahtomedi in a pair of Friday night quarterfinals.
Benilde and Brainerd had to come right back for semifinals Friday afternoon, and Benilde defeated Brainerd to reach the final, after St. Cloud stayed hot by beating Bemidji.
Hermantown gathered itself together after its opening loss and routed a Greenway team that was missing a couple of its top guns in consolation play, in a game that many anticipated might have championship overtones. Mahtomedi, after whipping Marshall in consolation play, beat Hermantown to gain the consolation title.
Brainerd, gaining a couple players who did double duty, with the Legion baseball team and the hockey team, beat Bemidji 3-2 in the third-place game. But the best was saved for last.
Benilde dominated the first period, but trailed 1-0 despite a 13-5 edge in shots, on a goal by Jack Randolph. The game became very chippy in the second period, and as the penalty boxes filled, Benilde vaulted ahead 3-1 on goals by Adam Marshall, Jackson Bisson and James Callahan. But St. Cloud got one back before the second period ended when August Falloon, perhaps the flashiest player in the building, scored before the second period ended to cut Benilde’s lead to 3-2.
Goaltender Brian Streitz kept St. Cloud in the game, as Benilde’s shot edge rose to 28-13 by the second intermission. None of that prepared observers for the third period, when Benilde kept up the heavy shooting attack, but St. Cloud scored all the goals. Five consecutive goals put St. Cloud ahead, with power-play, short-handed, 4-on-4 situations all resulting in goals for a shocking 7-3 victory.
Falloon got the final period going with a goal, then a 4-on-4 goal pushed St. Cloud into the lead by the 10-minute mark. Falloon set up Max Rud for a short-handed goal at 13:43, and St. Cloud added two more power-play goals in the final two minutes to skate away with the 7-3 triumph, despite being outshot 40-29 for the game.
Nobody puts too much emphasis on summer hockey results, but St. Cloud, Benilde, Brainerd and Bemidji all served notice that they should be taken seriously in the upcoming season.