The storylines were everywhere Saturday at Xcel Energy Center...
We saw history, with Breck and South St. Paul playing the first multiple-overtime championship game in girls hockey annals before Breck won the Class 1A title in the second overtime. It was the Mustangs’ first title in five trips to state and South St. Paul’s second consecutive runner-up finish.
We saw a big record fall. Warroad junior Lisa Marvin had a hat trick and an assist as the Warriors beat Red Wing 5-2 in the 1A third-place game. That gave her 34 points in state tournament games, breaking the record of 32 set by Roseville’s Ronda Curtin in 1999.
We saw the arrival of young stars in both the scoring and stopping categories. South St. Paul ninth-grade goaltender Sydney Conley was named to the all-tournament team after an astounding three-game run, and Breck can give credit for its victory Saturday to another pair of freshmen. Alexandra Wallin scored one goal for the Mustangs and classmate Leah Schwartzman scored the other two, including the gold-medal clincher at 10:55 of the second overtime.
But look a little deeper and listen a little harder, and you find messages that go beyond who won and who lost, beyond the color of the medals and the words on the trophies.
Let’s go back a day. South St. Paul defeated Warroad 4-2 in Friday’s semifinals. After the game had ended and the Packers had exited their locker room, I noticed what had been written on the white board in the locker room:
--“Nothing worth having is ever going to come easily.”
--“In life, we have to work hard for things we want.”
--“Today, don’t run from the challenge! Meet it head on!”
--“EMBRACE this moment.You will never get it back!”
I posted a photo of that white board on the MSHSL Facebook page Friday night, and the response was resounding. Comments were posted that included “I’m in!” and “Wonderful!”
The words on the board came from South St. Paul coach Dave Palmquist, who is one of the veterans in his business. Dave has been the Packers coach from the beginning, leading them to a state-record 12 state tournaments, winning four championships with three runner-up finishes.
He’s also the father of one of the players (daughter Abby is a sophomore) and he’s among the majority of our coaches – no matter the sport -- who absolutely get it, who understand what’s most important.
“I tip my hat to South St. Paul,” said Breck coach Chris Peterson. “Dave Palmquist, I’ve known him for years and he’s a fantastic coach and he runs a great program. It’s one of those games when you’re glad to be on the victorious side, but you also have to feel for them. They played a really, really good game and they’re a great hockey team. It’s just a shame to see kids in tears afterwards, tears of joy and tears of sadness.”
After the Packers left the ice following their heartbreaking defeat (Sydney Conley is pictured here), Palmquist told the media how he felt about his team.
“We fell a little short, but boy am I proud of them,” he said. “And this kid to my left, she’s an unbelievable player.”
Sitting to his left was senior Sam LaShomb, whose third-period goal sent the game into overtime. Her high school career has now ended without a state title. But in the midst of it all, she came to the interview room and talked about how it felt to come so close and finish second-best for the second year in a row.
“We told everyone to leave everything they had out there,” she said. “It was constantly, ‘Never give up. Never give up.’ And I don’t think we ever gave up.
“I feel like we worked too hard to get let down like this. We gave it everything we had and we couldn’t ask for anything else. If you could ask somebody to give more, we couldn’t.”
Friday’s victory over the two-time defending state champs from Warroad had taken the Packers to new heights. A year ago, the score in the championship game was a crushing blow: Warroad 5, South St. Paul 1. But finally, after Friday’s game, here was their chance to win a state title. And through regulation, overtime and into a second overtime Saturday, they gave it everything they could and did not win.
“Twenty-fours hours ago it was such a different feel,” Palmquist said. “We wanted this one so bad and we knew it was right there for us. The loss is one thing but you think about the relationships, the seniors that are going to be gone. That’s tough for the girls. Our kids are going to miss these seniors a lot.”
And then the coach’s words reflected some of those lessons and messages that had been written in the locker room a day earlier. Lessons about giving your all, doing your best, never backing down from a challenge … and what those lessons teach.
Before Dave and Abby Palmquist left their house Saturday morning, father and daughter talked about how fortunate they were. About how some teams never get to the state tournament even once, and here they were; Abby’s third trip to the big show.
“These kids can look back and say, ‘What an awesome time we had,’ " Dave said. "To play in two state title games back to back is a pretty special thing and I hope that these kids know that. As we said in the locker room, there are going to be other disappointments in life, and if this is as tough of one as they have, they’re going to be pretty fortunate.
“I know they’re hurt. I know we all hurt today. But they’ll be able to look back and know that they gave it everything they had. And that’s what they’re going to be asked out of life, just give it everything they have, every single day.”
MINNETONKA REPEATS AS CLASS 2A CHAMPION
Young players also played a key role in Minnetonka’s 3-0 victory over Roseville in Saturday night’s Class 2A championship game. Holly Korn scored in the first period and Diana Drayer got a goal in the third; both are sophomores. Junior Laura Bowman scored the final goal into an empty net as the game ended.
Minnetonka goaltender Sydney Rossman, a junior, stopped 23 shots as the Skippers repeated as state champs.
--Chisago Lakes defeated New Ulm 4-0 to finish fifth in 1A.
--Edina held off Lakeville North 1-0 in the 2A third-place game.
--Roseau beat Mounds View 3-1 in the 2A fifth-place game.
HERB BROOKS AWARD
--Red Wing senior Cori Fairbanks, who was profiled here Friday, received the Class 1A Herb Brooks Award. According the Herb Brooks Foundation, the award “is to be given to the most qualified hockey player in the state tournament who strongly represents the values, characteristics, and traits that defined Herb Brooks.” Cori is pictured with Dan Brooks, Herb's son.
--In Class 2A, the award went to Sydney Helmbrecht of Grand Rapids/Greenway.
Class 1A: Jamie Dobosenki, Megan Lushanko, Chisago Lakes; Nicole Schammel, Paige Haley, Red Wing; Kayla Gardner, Lisa Marvin, Lynn Astrup, Warroad; Kate Schipper, Milica McMillen, Breck; Emily Reibert, Sam LaShomb, Sydney Conley, South St. Paul.
Class 2A: Alexis Joyce, Cassie Alexander, Dani Sadek, Lakeville North; Adelle Murphy, Hanna Brodt, Kate Flug, Lee Stecklein, Roseville; Amy Petersen, Laura Bowman, Sidney Morin, Sydney Baldwin, Sydney Rossman, Minnetonka.
--Photo galleries from the state hockey tournament can be seen on the MSHSL Facebook page.
--Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 15 for the tournament, 15 for the winter tournaments.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 297
*Miles John has driven: 6,439
--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn