One hundred twelve thousand four hundred seventy four. Let me rephrase that: 112,474.
That was the total attendance for the four-day boys state hockey tournament. That averages out to 28,118 fans per day and 14,059 fans per session. Those are astonishing numbers for a high school event. (In case you missed the earlier post comparing the hockey tournament with Texas football and Indiana basketball, scroll down and take a look, because it’s pretty good stuff.)
We know that Minnesotans are absolutely nutty about the state hockey tournament, but the love affair has some national and even international flavor. Thirty high school lacrosse players from Georgia were in town this week, and they were sitting in the stands among the 112,474. A group of fans from Sweden flies to the Twin Cities every year for the tournament. They were in a suite, also among the 112,474.
And the tournament culminated in a terrific manner, with both state title games going to overtime. St. Thomas Academy defeated Hermantown 5-4 in the Class 1A championship game (for 1A details, scroll down to another earlier post.) And in the 2A finale, one of the great games in history, Eden Prairie defeated Duluth East 3-2 in triple overtime.
The moment that many TV viewers will remember from the 2A final is the Eagles’ Kyle Rau (wearing the C in the photo) diving and stretching with every fiber to reach a loose puck as it hit the crease. He swatted it with his stick and the puck banged off the goalpost, hit the skate of an East player and went in for the winning goal. It was truly a memorable play by one of the state’s top players, but my memories will center much more on the postgame scene.
On one side were the winning Eagles, as joyous as any teenagers you will ever see. On the other side, the East Greyhounds were absolutely crushed. Some of them had their heads down, buried in the boards. Most of them sat on the ice, stunned. The scene was a display of the difference made by one goal, by one player diving to tap a chunk of rubber.
One of the thousands of MSHSL Facebook followers posted this comment after the game: “Hopefully video footage of that winning goal will be captured on YouTube and posted. It shows just how narrow the margin between celebration and heartbreak can be.”
It was the first triple-overtime championship game in tournament history. The tournament also tied a record with six overtime games, and Duluth East and White Bear Lake both tied a record by playing three overtimes games in the tournament.
--2A all-tournament team: Brandon Wahlin, White Bear Lake; Charlie Lindgren, Lakeville North; Nick Kuchera, Will Merchant, Eagan; Dom Toninato, Nate Repensky, Jake Randolph, Hunter Bergerson, Duluth East; Kyle Rau, Nick Seeler, Dan Molenaar, Andrew Ford, Eden Prairie.
--2A Herb Brooks Award winner: Garen David, White Bear Lake.
--2A consolation bracket: Eagan beat Edina 5-3 in the third-place game and Lakeville North finished fifth by defeating White Bear Lake 4-3 in three overtimes. The Bears got plenty of ice time in the tourney, playing seven overtimes in three games.
--1A all-tournament team: Rory Vessel, Rochester Lourdes; Austin Rudnick, Breck; Adam Johnson, Nick DeCenzo, Hibbing/Chisholm; Matt Audette,Thief River Falls; AJ Reid, Zach Schroeder, David Zevnik, St. Thomas Academy; Garrett Skrbich, Jared Kolquist, Connor Lucas, Jared Thomas, Hermantown.
--1A Herb Brooks Award winner: AJ Reid, St. Thomas Academy.
--1A Consolation bracket: Thief River Falls beat Hibbing/Chisholm 3-0 in the 1A third-place game and Breck beat Rochester Lourdes 7-4 to finish fifth.
--I cannot confirm that the Lady Gaga tune “Bad Romance” was written with high school musicians and hockey arenas in mind, but the big band from Hermantown hit that baby out of the park.
--The number one sound in hockey: When a long slapshot sails just wide of the goal and everyone in the building says “OH!”
--Dept. of Patience: The members of the 2A all-tournament team had to be ready to be introduced at the end of regulation, so they were lined up in the tunnel behind the Eden Prairie bench. And that’s where they stood … through one overtime, and a second overtime, and into the third overtime.
--Chant of the Day: The East student fans during the second overtime, repeating “All You’ve Got! All You've Got!”
--I don’t think the Duluth East student section was chanting “Let’s Go Eat!” There was probably an S in there … made me hungry regardless.
--Next big event: On Monday, the MSHSL will announce the class and section assignments for 2011-12 and 2012-13. They will be posted on www.mshsl.org.
--I’m gonna go and ahead and take Sunday off, if that’s OK with everybody. Next week is the girls state basketball tournament, when the you-know-what will resume. Speaking of which …
--Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 16 for the tournament, 44 for the winter tournaments.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 511
*Miles John has driven: 8,502
--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