Hawks are not short of hockey firepower

John Gilbert

Hermantown's Dallas Vieau shifted to get around Marshall goalie Sam Pollard for his second goal in the Hawks 9-1 victory. Photo by John Gilbert.

When the word got around that brothers Zam and Max Plante would not be returning to join Kade Kohanski on Hermantown’s high-scoring top line this season, a good hockey fan I know said, “Well, maybe Hermantown won’t win Section 7-A this year.”
Then Kohanski suffered a broken wrist in a game against Hill-Murray, and a lot of people wondered how the Hawks’ scoring would be impacted.
My reaction was that we had to wait, because my hunch was that Hermantown would win just as much as last year’s state champs, but they’d be winning 4-1 and 2-1 rather than 11-0 and 9-1.
The Hawks, whose mode of operation is to beat a bunch of Class AA teams and then drop back to Class A to blow out their foes en route to their annual state tournament trip, opened with impressive victories, 6-3 at Cretin-Derham Hall and 3-1 at Hill-Murray, then tied Centennial before showing their new look in Duluth.

The Hawks played at Marshall last Saturday.
The Hilltoppers are thin on depth and had a couple players out with injuries, but they gave it a good go for a period. In fact, Kai Melton scored on a power play for a 1-0 Marshall lead halfway through the period, and junior goaltender Sam Pollard was literally standing on his head against a Hermantown attack that went from persistent to relentless.

Junior Evan Gunderson scored on a screened shot from the left point to tie the game, but was hardly sufficient reward for outshooting Marshall 25-4 for the opening period.
In the second period, the dam broke. Pollard continued to lunge, dive and get in the way of everything Hermantown fired at him, and he did block 25 more shots.
But the Hawks fired eight straight shots past him for a 9-1 lead after a 33-3 second-period shot edge. Junior Joshua Kauppinen scored at 0:12, and Dallas Vieau, another junior, scored at 2:00 on a great pass from Gunderson. Vieau scored again with a slick hesitation move to get Pollard to commit before outflanking the goaltender crossing right to left for another goal at 3:43.

At 8:13, Nolan Barker scored from the right point to make it 5-1, and at 12:01, sophomore River Freeman got another one to make it 6-1.
As the drama left Mars-Lakeview Arena, the fascination increased as the Hawks seemed to come together in the same way a river merges as it flows down the hill toward Lake Superior.
Samuel Swenson scored on a rebound at 12:43, then Joshua Kauppinen scored on a one-timer after his brother, Matthew, passed from behind the goal at  13:45, and he completed his hat trick at 16:55.
Kauppinen’s second goal made it 8-1 and Hermantown held a 49-7 edge in shots – meaning the Hawks had more goals than the Toppers had shots in the game.
Kauppinen’s third goal ended the second period 9-1 with Hermantown’s irrepressible surge in shots tallying 58-7.
The only thing that prevented the Hawks from reaching 80 shots was that the whole third period was played in running time. Neither team scored, and the game ended 9-1 with the shots 74-7, after the Hawks prevented even a single shot (16-0) against them in the third period.
The Plante boys, 1-2 in scoring last year as underclassmen, are off playing junior and Under 17 hockey, but nobody who watched this year’s Hawks roar to victory at Marshall thought they needed more firepower.
UMD basketball
Both the UMD men’s and women’s basketball teams survived a scrambled weekend of snowbound postponements Friday and Saturday to pull out nail-biting victories against St. Cloud State on Sunday afternoon at Romano Gym.
The men  improved to 6-1 in the NSIC and 11-2 overall, but they had to rally from behind and then rally again in overtime to gain an 84-80 victory, thanks to a record-shattering 39 points from soft-touch senior Drew Blair.
Blair, whose previous career best was 38 points when UMD won at St. Cloud in an earlier overtime game, reached 39 with 19 in the first half, going 6-8 from the floor and 5-6 from 3-point range.
The Huskies kept pecking away, working the ball inside to take the lead at 51-49 and they held onto it stubbornly until Blair again led a closing charge. Trailing 59-56, the Bulldogs vaulted ahead on Blair’s drive, and took a 60-59 lead when he duplicated it with 5:50 remaining.
But St. Cloud’s Luke Taylor drilled a pair of 3s and the Huskies retook control at 67-60. With 1:21 left in regulation, UMD had closed back in at 69-67 and Blair’s driving layup tied it 69-all.
I suggested to Blair that in a perfect world, he would hit one final 3 to win the game at the horn, and give him 36 of what would have been UMD’s 72 points – exactly half – and he said, “That was the plan.”
He got the shot, but it wouldn’t drop, and the teams went to overtime, where it went back and forth, tied again 78-78 when Blair scored with 14 seconds remaining.
That broke the tie, and when the Huskies fumbled the ball, Joshua Brown got in alone for a rousing slam dunk with 9.8 seconds left – his second of the game – to give UMD its decisive lead, and Blair hit two free throws for the final 84-80 margin.
Brown supported Blair’s 39 with 14, Charlie Katona added 12 and Jack Middleton 10, while Tommy Chatman led St. Cloud State with 19.
Just before that drama, the UMD women had a unique scare against their Huskies counterpart. Brooke Olson, who leads the team the same way Blair leads the men, grabbed a 19-7 lead in the first quarter, making 8 of 13 shots for 61.5 percent.
Olson went to the bench with two fouls in the second quarter, and the Bulldogs shot 10 percent (1-10) without her to allow the Huskies to close in at 26-20. Blair ended up with 25 points, but it was 60-55 when one of the season’s weirdest plays occurred.
UMD junior Taya Hakamaki had the ball outside on the right. She made a head fake and tried to drive, but struck a St. Cloud defender in the face with her forearm.
The whistle blew and the officials called a blocking foul on the St. Cloud player – meaning for the first time in basketball history a player was called for a foul using her face to commit the contact. It helped the Bulldogs hang on to win 84-80.
Olson was 8-12 for her 25 points, with Ella Gilbertson adding 14 and Maeyn Thiessen 13, while Katrina Theis scored 19 to almost keep pace with Olson.
After hitting 61.5 percent and then 10 percent, UMD responded to hit 50 percent in the third quarter and 54.5 in the fourth to end up at 45.5 percent for the game.
And I’ve apologized to former UMD hockey coach Mike Sertich for a misquote attributed to him here last week. My intention was to use the vital comment from his doctor about his ongoing fight against pancreatic cancer. Mike said the doctor told him “It’s treatable but not curable.”
That gives Sertie all the hope he needs to continue the fight, but in my column, the word “not” didn’t make it, leaving the quote “treatable but curable,” which would be a weird collision of terms. Keep up the fight, Sertie, and Merry Christmas to all.