Bruce Plante, who Friday had joked about not being able to go out in public if Hermantown lost in the Class 1A boys hockey state championship game for the fifth year in a row, delivered a strong postgame message Saturday. The message came after the second-seeded Hawks indeed lost the title game for the fifth consecutive year, a 7-3 defeat to top-seeded East Grand Forks at Xcel Energy Center.
But the message was resounding.
“I’m totally and completely OK because our kids played so hard, the best they could,” said Plante (pictured), who has been coaching for 25 years. “This was kind of a rebuilt team and they went this far. You have to be proud of what they’ve done. I love them to death because they gave everything they had. We ran into a better team.”
East Grand Forks won behind an attack that was balanced as well as relentless. The Green Wave’s goals came from seven players: Dixon Bowen, Eddie Eades, Jace Pesch, Grant Loven, Reed Corbid, Cale Mack and Tanner Tweten.
“It just doesnt seem to be our deal,” said Plante, whose team lost to Breck in the 2010 title game and to St. Thomas Academy the previous three years.
“It feels a lot better losing to East Grand than anybody else we’ve lost to, I’ll tell you that,” Plante said. “They’re the same kind of program we are.”
East Grand Forks was making its ninth trip to state and played in its second championship game. In 1999 the Green Wave lost to Benilde-St. Margaret’s 4-2 in the 1A final.
This time, the Green Wave defeated Orono 5-1 and St. Cloud Cathedral 2-1 in reaching Saturday’s game. Hermantown led 1-0 after the first period on a goal by Scott Wasbotten and appeared to be in control. But things changed in the second period, when East Grand Forks scored five times and outshot the Hawks 15-6.
“After the first period we came into the locker room and we knew it was going to be a tough period,” said Green Wave junior defender Tye Ausmus. “It was the state championship game. Nothing is given to you. We were quiet, just got ready for the second, we went out there and did our thing and had a really good period.”
East Grand Forks coach Tyler Palmiscno said, 'There will never be a team from the East side better than this team. This senior class set this goal five or six years ago. And they worked for it. It’s special.”
Plante said he will take some time in deciding if he will continue coaching.
“That’s to be decided down the road a little bit. Maybe somebody can get them through the last game, I don’t know. It gets to be a pretty big sack of rocks on your back after a while. It gets heavy.”
CLASS 2A/ EDINA REPEATS AS STATE CHAMP
Edina won its ninth state championship, rolling to an 8-2 victory over Lakeville North. The No.1 seed in Class 2A, the Hornets were charged by a fast, physical and deep roster and stellar goaltending.
Though it was Edina’s high-flying offense that took over the title game, coach Curt Giles said his team was focused on defense.
“We’ve been preaching all year long that we need to commit to defense against teams deep and talented like Lakeville North,” he said. “When you’re committed to defense, the goals will come.”
Edina played like a team without any weaknesses in three tournament games at Xcel Energy Center, though, according to senior Tyler Nanne, this was a team that had its downs this season, particularly on one night in January.
“We got our butts kicked against Hill-Murray and our coaches skated us hard after the game when we got back to our rink,” he said. “It’s exactly what we needed, we deserved it. Without this coaching staff, we would be nothing.”
Casey Dornbach got the scoring going early for Edina, benefitting from precision passing from Garret Wait and Tyler Nanne. Lakeville North junior forward Max Johnson tied the score later in the first period, only to have Edina’s Ben Foley respond seconds later with a power-play score. Johnson scored the only other goal for the Panthers in the game.
Miguel Fidler scored the next two goals for Edina, followed by one by Parker Mismash. Kiefer Bellows scored the next two Edina goals and the celebrating began. Senior forward Cullen Munson capped the game off with a score of his own.
Consistent success like that of Edina’s requires strong leadership. Bellows, a sophomore, credited his older teammates with steadying the ship.
“The seniors settled our emotions down and led us all year long,” he said. “They have been here before and knew what to expect.”
Giles called this Edina squad “one of the best teams in the school’s history,” citing his belief that they committed to a true team concept. “Anybody on any night could step up for us,” he said. “We’ve had some high-end, talented kids come through here the past 15 years and on this team everyone was involved in our success.”
1A third-place game/ New Prague 5, St. Cloud Catheral 2: Austin Killian scored twice for the Trojans.
1A fifth-place game/ Totino-Grace 4, Luverne 3 (two overtimes): Joey Brey scored two goals for the Eagles, including the game-winner in the second overtime.
2A third-place game/ Eagan 6, Eden Prairie 4: A last-minute goal by Nick Wolff, plus an empty-netter by Wolff, carried the Wildcats past the Eagles.
2A fifth-place game/ Roseau 3, Duluth East 2: Alex Strand scored twice for the Rams, including the game-winner in the third period.
Class 1A/ Daniel Bailey, William Hammer, Zach Fritz, St. Cloud Cathedral; Ben Henderson, Totino-Grace; Gunnar Olson, Luverne; Austin Isaacson, New Prague; Nate Pionk, Zach Kramer, Hermantown; Colton Poolman, Tye Ausmus, Tanner Tweten, Josh Weber, Hermantown.
Class 2A/ Nick Wolff, Andrew Lindgren, Eagan; Alex Strand, Zach Yon, Roseau; Phil Beaulieu, Duluth East; Luc Snuggerud, Eden Prairie; Jack Poehling, Nick Poehling, Lakeville North; Miquel Fidler, Dylan Malmquist, Tyler Nanne, Andrew Rohkohl, Edina.
--Ryan Clark, a former Fargo Forum sports reporter who has covered the state hockey tournament in the past, is now working in Florida at the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. On Saturday morning he was at a Florida Panthers practice, and people with the NHL team asked him if it was possible to watch the Minnesota state hockey tournament. He directed them to the prep45.com webcast.
--Written on a whiteboard in the East Grand Forks locker room: “All In – Together.”
--Total tournament attendance was 119,178 ... the second-largest total in last six years.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 353
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 8,692
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn