When you consider all the second-place medals that the Hermantown hockey team has hauled home from the state hockey tournament, there are the beginnings of a pretty substantial silver mine up north.
Saturday was, well, how to put this? It was loss No. 6 for Hermantown in Class 1A state championship games over the last six years. The phrase “six of one, half dozen of the other” doesn’t come close to doing this situation justice. Anyone who has a beating heart feels for the Hawks … six tries, six second-place finishes and a whole bunch of what-ifs.
After falling 5-4 in overtime to East Grand Forks at Xcel Energy Center, Hermantown coach Bruce Plante referred to “guys in the locker room bawling their eyes out.” That’s a hard scene to get out of your head … and it’s been this way for six years in a row for the Hawks. Imagine.
It was the second consecutive title-game victory for East Grand Forks over Hermantown. A year ago the score was 7-3.
“We made one more play than they did,” said Green Wave coach Tyler Palmiscno.
Plante said, “I’m getting used to it. It’s not fun. I just don’t get it. It’s weird to me. The hockey gods didn’t work in our favor again. We had all kinds of chances to win this game.”
Yes they did, and the Hawks came oh so close to finally getting over the golden hump. East Grand Forks led 2-0 after the first period, Hermantown tied it 2-2 in the second. Dixon Bowen scored late in the second period for the Green Wave and teammate Austin Monda’s second goal of the game early in the third put East Grand up 4-2.
And then, wham! Wyatt Aamodt and Eric Gotz scored for the Hawks 17 seconds apart late in the third period, making it 4-4 as regulation ended.
“When we tied it up I thought maybe the tide’s turning here,” Plante said. “Maybe we’ll get that lucky bounce.”
The luck went the other direction when Tanner Tweten got the game-winner (his second goal of the game) for the Green Wave 3:34 into overtime.
Hermantown hearts? Crushed.
“It’s a hockey game,” said Hermantown senior Nate Pionk. “You can’t just quit. You have to come back.
“In overtime it’s anyone’s game. Just because we get those two late goals it doesn’t mean you’re going to win it. We just didn’t find the back of the net.”
There’s the separation between finally winning gold medals and returning home with another bag of silver. And as happy as the East Grand Forks players were, they understood how it felt in the other locker room.
“Some of our players know some of their players, and you just feel for them,” said Bowen, who was named the Class 1A Herb Brooks Award winner after the game. “They’ve worked extremely hard. They’ve had a great season. You feel for them.”
Plante said, “I’m really proud of how we came back. We never gave up, we never gave in. We battled hard to the end. Some of the guys were gassed but they played hard, right to the bitter end.”
LAKEVILLE NORTH 4, DULUTH EAST 1
The top-seeded Panthers completed a 31-0 season with a dominating victory over the unseeded Greyhounds (16-11-4). The Poehling brothers – seniors Jack and Nick and sophomore Ryan – all scored, as did Angelo Altavilla, who was named the winner of the 2A Herb Brooks Award.
North outshot East 23-13 in a defensive-oriented game. Ryan Peterson scored for the Greyhounds in the third period to make the score 3-1 before Nick Poehling scored into an empty net.
Class 1A/ Jack Becker, Mahtomedi; Tanner Breidenbach, St. Cloud Apollo; Eric Gotz, Luke Olson, Nate Pionk, Ryan Kero, Wyatt Aamodt, Hermantown; Dixon Bowen, Grant Loven, Josh Weber, Tanner Tweten, Trevor Selk, East Grand Forks.
Class 2A/ Garrett Wait, Edina; Peter Tufto, Seamus Donohue, St. Thomas Academy, Alex Spencer, Ash Altmann, Gunnar Howg, Ryan Peterson, Duluth East; Jack McNeely, Jack Poehling, Jack Sadek, Nick Poehling, Ryan Edquist, Lakeville North.
--This year's total of 135,618 fans is a record for the tournament. The previous high was 129,643 in 2008.
--The Chicago Blackhawks lead the NHL with an average home attendance of 21,720. Friday night's crowd of 21,609 for the Class 2A semifinals would rank No. 2 in the NHL.
--Saturday’s championship games marked the fifth time in the 1A/2A era with three finalists from northern Minnesota. There were four in 2007: Roseau, Grand Rapids, Hermantown and Duluth Marshall. The other years with northern teams were: 1994 (Warroad, Moorhead, Hibbing), 1995 (Duluth East, International Falls, Moorhead) and 1998 (Duluth East, Eveleth-Gilbert and Hermantown).
Fifth place: New Prague 3, Breck 2 (2 OT)
Third place/ Mahtomedi 4, St. Cloud Apollo 3
Championship/ East Grand Forks 5, Hermantown 4 (OT)
Fifth place: St. Thomas Academy 2, Blaine 1
Third place/ Edina 4, Eden Prairie 2
Championship/ Lakeville North 4, Duluth East 1
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 412
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2014-15: 7,945