The big question early Saturday morning, after Minnetonka had held off Lakeville North in the longest game in girls or boys state hockey tournament history, was this: How in the heck will those two teams be able to play another game later the same day?
The answer? Very handily. North defeated Eden Prairie 3-2 in the Class 2A third-place game, which began at 4 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center. And at 7 p.m., here came the Minnetonka Skippers, ready to face Hill-Murray and try to win their third consecutive 2A state championship.
The final score was Minnetonka 3, Hill-Murray 1 … and there were no more questions.
The fact that the Skippers and Panthers were on the ice past 1 a.m. Saturday was an issue, no doubt. But both teams returned with determination; after all, who wants to play a six-overtime game and then come out and skate like zombies the next time out?
After North’s victory in the third-place game, the Panthers were absolutely giddy. They performed a clearly well-practiced routine in their locker room. They stood in a circle, arm in arm, and danced while singing a take-off of the Brady Bunch theme song. It ended with, “That’s the waaaaay we became the Panther Bunch!”
There was no shortage of smiles for Minnetonka, either. Some of the players sat in ice baths before going to bed, they all did some walking Saturday morning and afternoon to keep their legs alive, and then they strapped on the pads and got to work.
“They’re an amazing team, an amazing program,” said Hill-Murray coach Bill Schafhauser, who brought a young team to the tournament, a team that will be reckoned with in the future.
In the Skippers’ postgame news briefing, senior forward Amy Petersen – who scored the winning goal in the sixth overtime of the semifinal -- put an amazing spin on the marathon semifinal game, saying, “I was happy to get six more periods to play with this team.”
Minnetonka coach Eric Johnson offered a similar sentiment when he said, “The most sad part for me as a coach is I don’t get to go to practice with them on Monday.”
In the 1A title game, Blake became the team that survived, defeating Warroad 7-2. The Bears’ quest goes back to late December, when they lost to Warroad 12-3 at the Kaposia Classic in South St. Paul. Anyone expecting a repeat Saturday was very mistaken … for two reasons: 1) Blake career scoring leader Dani Cameranesi was away in December, playing with the U.S. Women’s National Under-18 Team; 2) That was a long time ago.
Warroad coach David Marvin, whose team won state titles in 2010 and 2011, was pretty frank in his postgame assessment. Here are some outtakes from his comments…
--“They took us out behind the woodshed.”
--“We couldn’t stop them and we couldn’t score. That’s a bad combination.”
--“They played great and we played not good.”
--“It was like an avalanche.”
--“We’ve done that to teams but it hasn’t happened to us a lot.”
Marvin joined the Blake contingent in wondering why Bears goaltender Tori Johnson was not part of the Wells Fargo all-tournament team. When Tori was asked about that, all she talked about was the team and not her own accolades.
First-year Bears coach Shawn Reid smiled as he listened to his goalie, then said, “That is example No. 472 of why I love coaching this team. They are selfless.”
HERB BROOKS AWARD WINNERS
--Katie Dye of Hibbing/Chisholm (featured in John’s Journal on Thursday) was named the Class 1A winner of the award after the championship game.
--The award winner in Class 2A was Eden Prairie’s McKenzie Johnson.
--Class 1A: Leah Coughlin, Hibbing/Chisholm; Emma Polusny, Mound Westonka; Ashley Corcoran, Emily Stegora, Nicolle Schammel, Red Wing; Lauren Wilcox, South St. Paul; Lisa Marvin, Lynn Astrup, Warroad; Karlie Lund, Carly Bullock, Dani Cameranesi, Ali Ahn, Blake.
--Class 2A: Megan Wolfe, Eagan; Charly Dahlquist, Eden Prairie; Cassie Alexander, Alexis Joyce, Christi Vetter, Lakeville North; Sarah Bobrowski, Samantha Boyer, Hill-Murray; Sidney Morin, Sydney Baldwin, Amy Petersen, Laura Bowman, Sydney Rossman, Minnetonka.
CLASS 1A CONSOLATION GAMES
--Red Wing 3, South St. Paul 2: The Haley sisters, Paige and Regan, scored the first two goals of the game for the Wingers and Emily Stegora got the third goal before Lauren Wilcox and Riley Viner scored for the Packers.
--Hibbing/Chisholm 2, Mound Westonka 1: Leah Coughlin and Mallorie Iozzo scored for the Bluejackets, with Grace Holmen getting Mound Westonka’s goal.
CLASS 2A CONSOLATION GAMES
--Lakeville North 3, Eden Prairie 2: Megan Skelly scored two goals for the victorious Panthers. Goaltender Cassie Alexander, who set a state tournament record with 59 stops in the semifinals, had 26 saves against Eden Prairie.
--Eagan 5, North Wright County 2: Megan Wolfe had a hat trick in the first period for the Wildcats and scored her fourth goal of the game in the third period as Eagan finished fifth.
--Total attendance at the girls state hockey tournament was 19,540.
--To see photos from Saturday's girls hockey and gymnastics state championships, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Diet Coke Count: 3 for the day, 12 for the tournament, 12 for the winter state tournaments
*Schools/teams John has visited: 464
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 7,139
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn