John's Journal
The People Have Spoken on the Great Soft Drink Question3/1/2011
First things first: I am going to make an attempt to cut down on the Diet Cokes. One of my fellow media members has issued a challenge, with the two of us battling to see who can refrain from sipping the longest. Stay tuned for updates on that front as the tournaments roll on.

Now, about the feedback to my essay about drinking Diet Coke. This was sparked by an email warning me of the dangers of doing so. I opened the question to you, and you came through with some varying opinions.

Some of you agreed with the original email I received. Here is an example …

“Yes! Give up Diet Coke! Aspertane, nutrasweet, all pure chemicals, and pure poison! That goes for your bottled "diet" green tea you're drinking, too. Here is a thought. I'm sure they can give you hot water.......carry some tea bags with you. They don't take up much room, and your body will be much happier with you in the long run.”

Some of you told me to keep on throwing down the Diet Cokes, such as this email …

“Can the thousands of fans attending the hockey and wrestling tournaments at the Xcel this season buy Diet Coke, regular Coke, Mello Yello and similar products, OR are the concession stands and traveling vendors allowed only to sell green tea, milk and bottled water among their beverages? The reprimand against you seems kind of asinine.”

In a face-to-face conversation – yes, they still take place despite electronic communication – someone told me about her father, who began drinking Diet Rite in the 1960s, made the switch to Diet Coke, still drinks one or two of them every day and is in his 90s.

And finally, this message arrived via Twitter: “Pretty sure that if you stop pounding Diet Cokes, the state tournaments will cease to exist.”

I’m not sure that would happen, and I don’t plan to go cold turkey on the Diet Cokes. As stated above, I will try some experimenting with cutting back. We have four weeks of winter state tournaments to go. I consumed 16 cans of Diet Coke during last week’s tournaments, so the bar has been set.

Wish me luck…

*Schools/teams John has visited: 479
*Miles John has driven: 8,215

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
Ticket Info for Boys Hockey Doubleheader at Mariucci Arena3/1/2011
Mariucci Arena at the University of Minnesota will be the site of two Class 2A boys hockey section finals on Wednesday, and here are the details on game times and tickets…

6 p.m./ 2AA Edina vs. Burnsville
8 p.m./ 6AA Eden Prairie vs. Wayzata

Adults $10, students $6 (no senior rate). All tickets are General Admission. Pre-sale is occurring at all school sites for participating school communities until noon on Wednesday. Ticket sales for the general public will be available starting at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Mariucci Arena Box Office. Gates will open for seating at 4:45 p.m.
The Great Soft Drink Debate …And Some Tournament Notes2/28/2011
In the midst of section tournaments and state tournaments and hockey and wrestling and gymnastics and swimming and basketball, an old debate has returned to the scene of the action.

Question: Should a guy like me be drinking Diet Coke? After the completion of last week’s girls state hockey tournament, I received an email warning me about the stuff. As noted in the daily dispatches, I sucked down four cans of Diet Coke during each of the four days of the hockey tournament.

I was inside the Xcel Energy Center for 12 hours or more each day, so is one Diet Coke every three hours too much? Here are excerpts from the email …

“John, Thanks for the great reporting on the Girls State Hockey tourney. Now, to lecture you: Diet Coke, no, no, no. John, John, John. No. No Nutrasweet. No Aspartame.

“Find something else delicious. Green tea with honey, anyone? Personally, I love the impact of green tea, a couple cups of hot, and I somehow feel better.

“Do well.”

So, I am open to further advice. I’m not saying I can, should or will give up on the Diet Cokes at tourney time. I rarely have soft drinks at home, and I generally have diet green tea in the fridge. But I don’t know if I want to haul a supply of diet green tea to all the tournaments, since the Diet Cokes are already there. And chilled.

If you have thoughts on this or any of the other Great Questions of Our Time, fire an email my way. No guarantees, but I will gladly listen to the opinions of one and all.


This is a big week, with lots of things happening on the section and state levels. I may drop in at Mariucci Arena on Wednesday for a doubleheader of boys hockey section finals. The state wrestling tournament will begin Thursday with the team competition in all three classes, and the individuals will take over Friday and Saturday.

One of the big stories at the wrestling tournament will be Elissa Reinsma, a senior at Fulda/Murray County Central. Two years ago she made history by becoming the first female to qualify for state. Now a senior with a season record of 32-5, she has qualified for a second time. Wrestling at 103 pounds, she will meet Foley sophomore Tristan Manderfeld in the first round at 11 a.m. Thursday. Reinsma is unranked and Manderfeld is ranked No. 2 in Class AA at 103.

The boys swimming and diving meet will take place at the University of Minnesota on Thursday and Friday. One of the many interesting stories there is Farmington’s Tyler Magalis. He is a top-notch diver and swims in relays, too, but there’s more to his story.

The Farmington diving coach is Gregg Rappe, whose son RJ was a state diving champion in 2004 and went on to compete at the University of Massachusetts. Magalis has already broken RJ Rappe’s school record for diving, and his coach is, yes, RJ’s father. That’s a neat story.

When the boys state hockey tournament kicks off on March 9, there is an interesting twist with the officials.Three brothers have been assigned to work the state tournament; two of them are referees and one is a linesman, so they could end up working together.

Feel free to pass along any tournament notes from your school, and we’ll spread the news far and wide. Have a great week, everybody!

*Schools/teams John has visited: 479
*Miles John has driven: 8,215

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
Girls State Hockey Tournament: Fathers and Daughters, Smiles and Tears2/26/2011
After Warroad had won its second consecutive Class 1A girls state hockey championship Saturday afternoon, coach David Marvin sat at a table taking questions from the media. On his right were forward Karley Sylvester and goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie (pictured below). On his left were forwards Lisa and Layla Marvin.

Lisa and Layla are also David’s daughters. This question was raised to the Marvin girls: What does it mean to win back-to-back championships with your dad?

Layla, a senior who is two years older than Lisa, pulled the microphone they were sharing towards her seat and said with a smile, “I’d like to say it’s more with our team, but I’m glad our dad’s here, too.”

Layla had two goals and one assist in Warroad’s 5-1 victory over South St. Paul and Lisa had a goal and an assist. South St. Paul’s goal was scored by freshman Abby Palmquist, the daughter of coach Dave Palmquist.

Dave Palmquist and senior defender Sam LaShomb represented the Packers during the postgame media sessions. Sam was a little emotional, as you would expect. Sitting in front of reporters and TV cameras and answering questions after losing the biggest game of your life … that might be a tougher assignment than actually playing the game.

As the coach answered a question, Sam (pictured) looked to her left and saw a TV monitor on which Warroad’s postgame celebration was being replayed. That had to be tough to watch.

As the Warroad contingent walked to the media session, they were one very happy group of teenagers. Amsley-Benzie had a New Year’s Eve-style party favor in her mouth. It didn’t make any noise, but as she blew into it, it would unroll and then roll back up. As the Warriors walked past the door to South St. Paul’s locker room, the door opened and the Packers began trickling out, carrying equipment bags and sad eyes. It was proof again of the narrow line between winning and losing, between unforgettable elation and heart-wrenching sadness.

David Marvin talked about the Warriors season, about the seniors on this year’s team and what they will take from the experience. “We’ll have great memories for the rest of our lives,” he said.

Indeed they will. Things will look brighter for the Packers, too. South St. Paul loses only three seniors from the state runner-up team. Don’t be surprised, a year from now, to see the Packers doing the celebrating.


Saturday night’s contest was as close as they come, with Amy Petersen scoring at the 16:20 mark of the third period to carry Minnetonka past Edina 3-2. While there were no father-daughter combinations this time, the emotions were just as varied as after the 1A title game.

The Minnetonka Skippers were skating on air. Down the hall, sobs were heard coming from the Edina locker room. But, as is often the case, the tears were replaced by trickles of laughter not too much later. All the teams have much to be proud of, and even those that didn’t take home a state championship will understand that more and more as time goes on.


--Saturday was championship day at girls state hockey as well as individual championship day of the state gymnastics meet at the U of M. For the first time, all four officials for a girls hockey title game were women: Kelli Rolusta, Kristina Langley, Ashley Alm and Kristin Moran. And there was big news in the wrestling world, too. Fulda/Murray County Central senior Elissa Reinsma, who in 2009 became the first female to qualify for the Minnesota state wrestling tourney, qualified again Saturday at the Class 2A, Section 3 tournament. The state wrestling tournament will be held Thursday through Saturday here at the X.


2A Herb Brooks Award winner: Carolyn Draayer, Minnetonka.

2A All-Tournament Team: Rachael Bona, Coon Rapids; Hannah Brandt, Hill-Murray; Sarah Neilsen, Sami Reber, Ali Austin, Megan Armstrong, Maddie Dahl, Edina; Julie Friend, Carolyn Draayer, Sidney Morin, Amy Petersen, Rachel Ramsey, Minnetonka.

2A third-place game: Coon Rapids 5, Hill-Murray 4 (3 OT). Chelsea Cyert scored in the second overtime to lift the Cardinals past the Pioneers.

2A fifth-place game: Elk River/Zimmerman 2, Lakeville South 1. Josie Broan had a goal and an assist for Elk River/Zimmerman.

--1A Herb Brooks Award winner: Amanda Arbogast, Eveleth-Gilbert.

--1A All-Tournament Team: Katie Felton, Sam LaShomb, Abbie Wisneskie, South St. Paul; Milica McMillen, Prentice Basten, Breck; Paige Hailey, Red Wing; Amanda Arbogast, Eveleth-Gilbert; Sara Carlson, Hutchinson; Shelby Amsley-Benzie, Layla Marvin, Karley Sylvester, Kayla Gardner, Warroad.

--1A third-place game: Breck 6, Eveleth-Gilbert 4. Milica McMillen scored two goals for Breck. Eveleth-Gilbert’s Kayla Moe had a goal and three assists.

--1A fifth-place game: Red Wing 5, Hutchinson 4. Paige Hailey had two goals for the Wingers and Claire Cripps had two for Hutchinson.

--Pep Band Song of the Day: With drums beating, the Warroad band members stood and used their arms to form the letters and spell “W-A-R-R-I-O-R-S.”

--Diet Coke Count: Four for the day, 16 for the tournament.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 479
*Miles John has driven: 8,215

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at
Girls State Hockey Tournament: A Stroke Of Wild Inspiration2/25/2011
As Edina junior goaltender Maddie Dahl walked into the media room after the Hornets had earned a spot in the Class 2A state championship game Friday night, I said to her quietly, “That stick really IS magic.”

She whispered, “It is!”

Dahl had just finished her second shutout of the tournament as Edina beat Hill-Murray 2-0 to move into Saturday’s state championship game against Minnetonka. The stick we spoke of is a very special goalie stick, a gift that Maddie isn’t afraid to credit for her sterling performance at Xcel Energy Center.

In Thursday’s semifinals Dahl shut out Rosemount 6-0. There was undoubtedly a little magic at work, magic that began a couple hours before game time thanks to the generosity of injured Wild goaltender Josh Harding.

Harding is sidelined with a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee, suffered during the preseason. So while the Wild are in California, he’s back here in Minnesota going through the rehab process. He was on the ice at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday morning when the Edina Hornets arrived at the arena for their opening game.

Some of the Hornets saw Harding from the concourse level, but Dahl was the only one to run down the stairs to reach ice level. “He’s my idol,” she told me Friday before Edina met Hill- Murray in the semifinals.

She isn’t afraid to admit that she had her face pressed up to the glass to watch Harding. As his workout ended, he began picking up pucks and gathering his equipment. Then he did something that Dahl certainly did not expect. He picked up one of his sticks and tossed it over the glass to her.

Did somebody say “stunned”?

“I was like, ‘Wow!’ I thought he was going to take it back,” Maddie said. “I got kind of nervous and I ran really fast up the stairs.”

Her teammates, having witnessed the tossing of the stick, met Maddie at the concourse level and gathered around the stick; an honest-to-goodness NHL goalie’s stick. Harding is lefthanded and Maddie is righthanded, but what the heck does that matter? It just means she is less likely to use it on the ice and break it or see some similar catastrophe take place.

The story, however, doesn’t end there. Maddie and her teammates went down to the locker room level, where Harding was standing outside the Wild locker room holding a bottle of water. He saw Maddie carrying the stick, gave her a fist bump and said to her, “Good luck.”

But, again there’s more. Maddie doesn’t know who did what, but somehow, someway, somebody had Harding autograph the stick when she was otherwise occupied before the game. All she knows is that before the game, Harding had autographed it. Plus, he came into the locker room and again told Maddie, “Good luck.”

He had written on the stick, “To Maddie. Good Luck!” He signed his name and his number, 37.

But wait. The story isn’t over. You know that Maddie shut out Rosemount, making 24 saves. When I asked her what she did with the stick after the game, she smiled. Then she told me this: she slept with it.

And it’s a pretty safe bet that she slept with it again Friday night.

Josh Harding, you are my idol, too.

MINNETONKA vs. COON RAPIDS --Paige Baldwin and Carolyn Draayer each scored two goals to lead the Skippers into the state title game. Coon Rapids will meet Hill-Murray in Saturday's third-place game.

CLASS 1A SEMIFINALS --Saturday's 1A state championship game will be a matchup between two traditional powers South St. Paul and Warroad. The Packers edged Breck 1-0 on a third-period goal by Ali Chulla. Warroad defeated Eveleth-Gilbert 9-0. South St. Paul won state titles in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006. Warroad is the defending state champion and finished second in 2006 and 2009.


--Quote of the Day: South St. Paul's Chulla was asked how she felt when the final second ticked off the clock in the Packers’ win over Breck. Her answer was in the form of two questions: “I don’t know? OMG?”

--Quote of the Day Part II: Warroad coach David Marvin to the media contingent, which apparently didn’t have enough questions: “You guys are dull this year.”

--Nice backstage scene: As Hill-Murray’s Hannah Brandt and Marissa Brandt left the postgame media session they crossed paths with Edina’s Dahl and Sami Reber, who were headed to meet the press. The players hugged each other.

--Breck goaltender Taylor Neisen accompanied Mustangs coach Lenny Vannelli to the interview room. Taylor was a little teary-eyed as she entered the room, but was soon smiling as she talked about the experience. Good for you, Taylor. (That's her in the photo.)

--Pep Band Song of the Day: South St. Paul’s version of “Hey Jude.”

--Mascot Update: The Eveleth-Gilbert Bears not only have cheerleaders, but they also brought a bear to the semifinals. Not a ferocious grizzly, but a friendly Teddy bear. And Sir Loin, the skating steer who leads the parade for South St. Paul, was on the ice firing up the Packers fans before the first game of the day.

--The large South St. Paul student contingest was dressed in “black out” mode, as opposed to all-white attire during Wednesday’s quarterfinals. Very nice planning and execution, young Packers.

--Update on Celebrity Sighting from earlier in the week: Attorney/baseball expert Clark Griffith is the father of Breck senior Caroline Griffith.

--Milestone Moment: Shortly after 3 p.m. Friday, the MSHSL Facebook page reached a very nice plateau of 2,000 friends. If you want to see photo galleries -- including behind-the-scenes photos -- from the tournament, head on over to Facebook and join us.

--Diet Coke Count: Four for the day, 12 for the tournament.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 479
*Miles John has driven: 8,174

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter at