John's Journal
For Hill-Murray, The Best Offense Is A Great Defense2/20/2014
One of the keys to Hill-Murray’s 4-1 victory over Burnsville in the Class 2A girls hockey state quarterfinals Thursday at Xcel Energy Center was the Pioneers’ smothering defensive effort. Burnsville was held to 11 shots on goal, with five in first period, five in the second and only one in the third.

“That’s definitely a strength of our team,” Hill-Murray coach Bill Schafhauser said. “We rely on that.”

The Pioneers led 2-0 after the first period on a power-play goal by Jess Bonfe and an even-strength goal by Rebecca Zarembinski. Kenzie Prater and Brittney Anderson scored in the second period, as did Burnsville’s Paige Skaja.

Hill-Murray didn’t get its first shot on goal until nearly midway through the first period, but the Pioneers never got rattled.

“I didn’t really notice it very much,” said goaltender Leah Patrick. “Our forwards always come back. We start progressing through the game and I knew they’d get it. They’re all hungry to score and they fight really hard.”

Burnsville’s top line of Lindsey Coleman, Britta Nelson and Skaja have played together for four years and they finished first, second and third in scoring in the South Suburban Conference this season. Coleman had four shots on goal against Hill-Murray while Nelson and Skaja each had two.

The game’s key momentum swing came in the third period. Skaja’s goal made the score Hill-Murray 3, Burnsville 1 and the Blaze had reason for excitement. But Anderson scored 22 seconds later for the Pioneers.

“We kept telling the kids, ‘Let’s get one, let’s chip away,’ ” said Blaze coach Tracy Cassano. “We’ve faced adversity all year, our kids are resilient, they keep fighting. When Paige scored we felt like there was a little momentum swing, our bench went nuts and our fans went nuts. And then boom, they answered back.”

--In the day’s second game, Eden Prairie rallied from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Andover 4-2. Goals by Sierra Langlie and Abbie Turpin put the Huskies in front 2-1 before Eden Prairie scored the game’s final three goals.

The Eagles’ Charly Dahlquist tied it 2-2 late in the second period and put her team ahead 3-2 early in the third. An empty-net goal by Kate Rydland sealed it for the Eagles.

“There were definitely some big momentum shifts,” said Andover coach Melissa Sailor. “It was big after we went ahead 2-1, and then they scored. It would have been really big to go into the third period leading 2-1.”


--Benilde-St. Margaret’s 7, Roseau 0: The top-seeded Red Knights broke loose after a scoreless first period to advance to Friday’s semifinals. Kelly Pannek had three goals and three assists for Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Caitlin Reilly had a goal and three assists.

--Lakeville North 3, Mounds 2 (3 overtimes): In a game that ended shortly before 11 p.m., the winner came when Morgan Manes redirected a shot into the net 59 seconds into the third overtime. North has experience in overtime games at state; last year in the semifinals the Panthers lost to Minnetonka 4-3 in a six-overtime game that ended at 1:02 a.m.


Brad Bergstrom, who is the principal at Austin High School, was one of the linesmen for Wednesday night’s Class 1A quarterfinal game between East Grand Forks and Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato. The game gave Bergstrom a rare trifecta of state hockey experiences.

He is a native of International Falls and played in the 1983 boys state hockey tournament. He was the head coach of the boys hockey team at Fergus Falls from 1997 to 2002 and took the Otters to six consecutive state tournaments. And this week he is working the girls state tourney as an official for the first time.

Bergstrom, who has been a hockey official for 10 years, worked a consolation-bracket game at Ridder Arena on Thursday and will work one game Friday back at Xcel Energy Center.

“Yes, the game of hockey has been very good to me,” he said.


Canada defeated the U.S. 3-2 in overtime to win the Olympic gold medal in women’s hockey Thursday. Canada overcame a late 2-0 deficit, and when the Canadians scored to tie it 2-2 with 54.6 seconds left in regulation, a resounding “NOOO!” was heard in the corridor behind the team benches at Xcel Energy Center, where players and tournament workers were watching on several TVs.


--Alexandria 4, New Ulm 3 (three overtimes): Alexandria ninth-grader McKenzie Revering scored an unassisted goal with 2:40 left in the third overtime; it was her fifth goal of the season.

--Proctor-Hermantown 4, Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato 1: Karie Lenard and Jillayne Gilbert each scored two goals for the Mirage. Sarah Kivisto had Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato’s goal.


Class 1A Semifinals
11 a.m.: Blake vs Red Wing
1 p.m.: East Grand Forks vs. St Paul United

Class 2A Semifinals
6 p.m.: Hill-Murray vs. Eden Prairie
8 p.m.: Benilde-St. Margaret’s vs. Lakeville North

*Schools/teams John has visited: 323
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 8,332
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Red Wing’s Schammel Is Among Elite Girls Hockey Company2/19/2014
Nicole Schammel is a senior hockey player from Red Wing who is in the final stages of a stellar high school career. She holds school records in career goals and points and has signed a letter of intent to play Division I college hockey at Minnesota State Mankato.

Schammel had three goals and three assists in the Winger’s 7-2 victory over New Ulm in Wednesday's Class 1A state quarterfinals at Xcel Energy Center. On the season she has 61 goals, more than any other player in the tournament field.

As her high school hockey career comes to its conclusion this week, she was surprised to learn Wednesday where she ranks among some of the game’s legendary players.

Natalie Darwitz, who played at Eagan from 1997 to 2000 before continuing her career at the University of Minnesota as well as in the Olympics, is the state’s all-time leader with 468 career points. Schammel is No. 2 on that list with 452 points.

On the career goal-scoring list, Darwitz is first with 316, Schammel has 269 and Krissy Wendell (Park Center, 1998-2000) is third at 219. Wendell also played for the Gophers and in the Olympics, so that’s some pretty good company.

“That’s pretty cool,” Schammel said. “Obviously those guys are great. It’s an honor.”

Schammel plays on one of the top lines in the state with senior Emily Stegora and junior Reagan Haley. That trio did all the scoring for the Wingers on Wednesday. Stegora will also play at Minnesota State Mankato and Haley has made a verbal commitment to Minnesota Duluth.

“They might go down as one of the highest-scoring trios in high school league history,” said Red Wing coach Scott Haley. “What’s neat is the synergy between those three.”

That synergy extends beyond the ice. Schammel and Stegora are doubles partners on the Wingers tennis team, and they reached the section semifinals last fall. Haley, Schammel and junior Kayla Oberding are members of the golf team, which placed fourth in the Class 3A state tournament last spring.

“It’s a pretty special group,” Haley said. “We’ve really enjoyed watching these three play.”


If there is a younger group of girls at Xcel Energy Center during this week’s state tournament than the Blake hockey team, they’re probably selling Girl Scout cookies. Yes, the Bears are the defending Class 1A state champions, but they also have a roster packed with very young players.

Eight players graduated from last year’s Blake team, and nine of the 20 players on the 2014 state tournament roster are in seventh, eighth or ninth grade. The Bears’ class breakdown goes like this: three seniors, three juniors, five sophomores, four freshmen, three eighth-graders, two seventh-graders.

“I’m happy with the poise they’ve exhibited all season,” coach Shawn Reid said after the Bears defeated Alexandria 3-2 in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. “We have some really good poise on this team. The younger players are playing above their maturity level, which is phenomenal to see.”

Blake’s goals Thursday were scored by sophomores Carly Bullock (two goals) and Sylvie Wallin. One of Bullock’s goals was unassisted, and the assists on the other two Bears goals were by junior Lilia Everson and ninth-grader Sarah Levitt.


Both of Alexandria’s goals against Blake were scored by senior Melissa Drown, who does much more than play hockey. Melissa not only is a captain on the hockey team, she is president of her school’s A Club, president of the Liberty Livewires 4H club, student council vice president, member of the National Honor Society and has a 3.8 GPA while taking advanced and college-level classes.


--In a game between teams making their first appearances at the state tourney, top-seeded East Grand Forks defeated Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato 8-1. Haley Mack had four goals for the Green Wave and Alexa Mack had one goal and three assists. Kennedy Sommerfeld had the goal for Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato.

--St. Paul United defeated Proctor/Hermantown 5-2 in the day’s last quarterfinal. Joie Phelps had two goals for St. Paul United, which was outshot 26-21 by the Mirage. St. Paul United is a cooperative team with players from Visitation and St. Paul Academy and Summit School.


--The best scene in the formal postgame interview room: While East Grand Forks coach Jim Scanlan and players Haley Mack and Coco Piche sat at a table in front of the gathered media, the rest of the Green Wave players sat with the reporters. As the session ended, the players applauded.

--Blake is the defending champion, and two of the key scorers in the Bears’ 2013 state title lineup returned this season .. and they are not yet seniors. Bullock and Karlie Lund (now a junior) were both named to the Class 1A all-tournament team a year ago. Bullock had four goals and two assists in three games at state last time and Lund finished with five goals (including a hat trick in the state semifinals) and five assists.

The Bears are playing without Lund at state, however. Coach Shawn Reid had some fun when talking about her status, jokingly using an approach common in the NHL: “Karlie is questionable with an upper body injury (end of joke). She has a broken collarbone, she’s out.”

--Blake is seeking not only its second consecutive state championship but its fifth overall. The Bears won titles in 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2013.

--New Ulm (which is a cooperative team involving New Ulm, New Ulm Cathedral, Sleepy Eye and Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s) is making its sixth consecutive appearance at state.

--Top-seeded East Grand Forks is playing at state for the first time. The Green Wave met Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato is Wednesday’s 6 p.m. game. Wednesday’s action also was the first at state for Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato, as well as for St. Paul United ( a cooperative team with players from Visitation and St. Paul Academy and Summit School), which met Proctor-Hermantown in the day’s final game.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 315
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 8,292
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Dance Season Closes With A Terrific State Tournament2/15/2014
The high school dance season culminated in grand fashion over the weekend, with 36 teams advancing to the state tourney in the Jazz division and 36 more advancing in High Kick. After the first round in each division, six of the 12 teams in each class advanced to the championship round at Target Center.

In Jazz, here are the championship results…

Class 1A
1. Yellow Medicine East, Granite Falls
2. Marshall School, Duluth
3. Aitkin
4. Frazee
5. Rockford
6. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton

Class 2A
1. Benilde-St. Margaret’s, St. Louis Park
2. Totino-Grace, Fridley
3. Sartell-St. Stephen
4. Simley, Inver Grove Heights
5. South St. Paul
6. Mound Westonka

Class 3A
1. Eastview
2. Wayzata
3. Maple Grove
4. Chaska
5. St. Cloud Tech
6. Brainerd

And in High Kick, the results are …

Class 1A
1. Aitkin
2. Yellow Medicine East
3. Frazee
4. Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd
5. Montevideo
6. Pelican Rapids

Class 2A
1. Totino-Grace
2. Sartell-St. Stephen
3. Cannon Falls
4. Austin
5. St. Cloud Cathedral
6. Holy Angels

Class 3A
1. Eastview
2. Chaska
3. Faribault
4. Eden Prairie
5. Wayzata
6. St. Cloud Tech

Congratulations to all the teams that competed at state!

--To see outstanding photo galleries by Minnesota Prep Photo from the state dance tournament, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 307
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 8,252
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
The Winter Ski Season Is Complete As Nordic Champs Crowned2/13/2014
BIWABIK -- Thursday brought a fresh few inches of snow to Giants Ridge, where the state Nordic ski championships were held. The snow may have slowed some of the athletes but the day went off without a hitch.

The Wayzata girls captured their second consecutive team title with three individuals finishing among the top 10. Placing second was Armstrong, with Stillwater third.

The girls individual champion was Irondale senior Mattie Watts, followed by Burnsville senior Vivian Hett and Wayzata senior Alayna Sonnesyn.

The boys team champion was Forest Lake, followed by St. Louis Park and Duluth East.

Topping the boys individuals was Bloomington Jefferson sophomore Zak Ketterson, followed by Mounds Park Academy senior Nick Gardner and Forest Lake junior Leo Hipp.

All skiers raced a 5k freestyle course in the morning and a 5k classical event in the afternoon.

Congratulations to all the skiers!
Hello From Giants Ridge And The State Ski Championships2/12/2014
BIWABIK – The spotlight turns to skiing for two days, as Giants Ridge hosts the state championships of Alpine and Nordic skiing. Alpine racing will be the focus Wednesday and Nordic takes over Thursday.

While en route to Biwabik, I spent Tuesday evening at historic Roels Gymnasium in Chisholm. Gov. Mark Dayton proclaimed Tuesday as “Bob McDonald Day” in Minnesota, and the Chisholm Bluestreaks played host to the Hibbing Bluejackets, who are coached by Bob’s son Joel.

It was a whale of a ballgame, with Chisholm winning 79-69 in three overtimes; it was the first triple-overtime game in Bob McDonald’s nearly six-decade coaching career.

Before the game, Tony Sertich, former state representative and current commissioner of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (he also played basketball at Chisholm), presented Bob McDonald with the proclamation signed by Gov. Dayton. The governor was unable to attend because he underwent hip surgery this week.

In addition, Joel McDonald presented his father with a ball commemorating the 100th game Bob McDonald has coached against Hibbing. Bob McDonald has a 48-52 career record vs. Hibbing. In 34 meetings between father and son, Bob has won 19 games to Joel's 15.

Now we turn our attention to the state ski championships. To receive updates and photos in real time, follow me on Twittter; I’m @MSHSLjohn

Later in the week I plan to attend the 66th annual state one-act play festival on Friday at St. Catherine University's O'Shaughnessy Auditorium in St. Paul (the event begins Thursday), and on Saturday I will attend the second day of the state dance team tournament at Target Center.

This week means a lot of miles, but even more smiles!

--To see photos from the Hibbing-Chisholm game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 283
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 7,689
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn