An attempted third period comeback by Bemidji against Edina gave way to Duluth East's miraculous win over St. Thomas Academy. As they have done several times this year, the Greyhounds came back from a 5-2 deficit with 4:33 remaining to win in overtime and a date with the two-time defending champions.
The evening session featured highlight-reel goals by all 4 teams. Lakeville North kept its undefeated season alive with a 4-1 win over Hill-Murray and Eden Prairie showed off firepower in a 5-3 victory over Blaine.
Attendance for the afternoon session was
15,005 18,749 and the evening session was 14,993 19,005 at Xcel Energy Center.
Edina 6 - Bemidji 4
Bemidji made their first appearance at the State Tournament since 1986, and that inexperience showed in the early stages of their game against perennial participant and two-time defending champion Edina in the first game of Thursday's Class AA quarterfinals. Edina scored three goals in the game's first seven minutes to build an early 3-0 lead, and held off a late Bemidji comeback for a 6-4 victory.
After digging themselves in a big first period hole, Bemidji came out in the second period and scored two goals in the period's first minute to cut the lead to 3-2. But Edina had an answer with goals from sophomore Bram Scheerer and the second of the game for senior Matt Masterman.
Edina's 5-2 lead looked comfortable for much of the final period, but Bemidji's Jack Johnson scored with 2:07 remaining to cut the lead to 5-3, and Josh Lusby scored an extra-attacker goal for the Lumberjacks with 55 seconds remaining to make it a one goal game. But that was as close as the Lumberjacks could get, and Edina iced the game with an empty-net goal with just seconds remaining to advance to tomorrow's semifinal.
Duluth East 6 - St. Thomas Academy 5 (OT)
In the second afternoon semifinal, Duluth East pulled off one of the more improbable comebacks in state tournament history to upset third seed St. Thomas Academy 6-5 in overtime.
The Cadets of St. Thomas built an early 3-0 lead in the first period and seemed to be cruising to a spot in the semifinals. But Duluth East answered back with a pair of goals in the final two minutes of the first period.
St. Thomas Academy took control of the game again, when Peter Tufto scored his fourth and fifth point of the game with a goal and an assist. St. Thomas Academy took that 5-2 lead into the second intermission and again looked in control of the game.
Ryan Peterson cut into St. Thomas' lead early in the third period. The Greyhounds would score twice more in the game's final three minutes to knot the score at the end of regulation.
With all the momentum in their favor, Duluth East controlled the overtime period and 1:31 into the period, Ryan Peterson scored his second of the game to complete the comeback and punch Duluth East's ticket to the semifinals.
Edina and Duluth East will meet in tomorrow's first Class AA semifinal at 6 PM.
Lakeville North 4 - Hill-Murray 1
It took a bad call for top Class AA seed Lakeville North to take the lead for good against Hill-Murray.
Panthers captain Jack Poehling, a St. Cloud State commit, scored two goals in the second period Thursday night and began a trio of Lakeville North goals on backhands in a 4-1 victory at Xcel Energy Center.
Both goals in the first period came off of rebounds with Lakeville North's Max Johnson and Hill Murray's Jacob Olson (Harvard commit) getting goals at Xcel Energy Center.
Poehling made up for Lakeville North being called for a bad offsides call to give the Panthers the lead. Off the ensuing faceoff, Poehling got the draw and split the Hill-Murray forwards. Picking up speed, he made a move to go around a defenseman, faked Pioneers goalie Jake Begley and lifted the puck with a backhand over him to complete a major individual effort.
He did it again with 58.0 seconds remaining for a 3-1 lead heading into the second intermission. Both of Jack's brothers - Ryan and Nick(also SCSU commits) - had the assists. Lakeville North led in shots 23-6 after two.
Henry Eneback gave Lakeville insurance with 3:03 remaining on another backhand.
Begley stopped 25 shots for Hill-Murray. Ryan Edquist (Minnesota commit) made 16 saves for Lakeville North, which remains undefeated (29-0-0) this season.
Eden Prairie 5 - Blaine 3
A four goal second period by Eden Prairie gave the Eagles some revenge against Blaine.
Casey Mittelstadt continued his outstanding sophomore campaign Thursday with both him and captain Michael Graham scoring twice in a 5-3 win. Blaine had late goals by Easton Brodzinski and Ryan McArthur, but the Bengals matched Bemidji rather than Duluth East in Thursday's theme of late comebacks.
Eagles goalie Shaun Durocher made 11 saves. Blaine goalies Jon Kallestad (15) and Ridge Gerads (11) combined for 26 saves.
Mittelstadt, a Minnesota commit who scored both goals in Eden Prairie's 2-1 section OT win over Minnetonka, got the Eagles on the board 13:53 into the game. Mittelstadt tipped defenseman Brady Schoo's shot out of mid-air for a 1-0 lead.
Blaine's Riley Tufte (UMD commit) took away the puck for a breakaway and didn't look back, scoring a highlight-reel goal with 55.6 seconds left
Michael Graham (UMD commit) tried to one-up Tufte in the second period. Graham undressed a Blaine defenseman with fancy stickhandling to give Eden Prairie a 2-1 lead with 11:55 left in the second. Less than two minutes Mittelstadt got his second on a two-on-one play.
Graham joined him with 5:26 remaining before Cole Lawrence made it 5-1 to end Kallestad's night.
Blaine continued to press in the third period despite the score. Easton Brodzinski (SCSU commit) had a couple chances saved by Durocher before getting his 32nd of the season on the power play. Teammate Ryan McArthur made it 5-3 with 1:51 remaining. The Bengals pressured in the final minute with Eden Prairie holding the Section 5AA champs off the board.
Blaine had defeated Eden Prairie 8-3 on December 23rd. Now the fifth seed Eagles will get a chance to avenge another defeat tomorrow in Lakeville North. Eden Prairie lost a 5-4 double OT heart breaker to the Panthers in the 2014 Class AA semifinals.
Friday Class AA Semifinal Brackets
(2) Edina vs. Duluth East - 6 PM
(1) Lakeville North vs. (5) Eden Prairie - 8 PM
Both Class AA games will be preceded by the Class A semis Friday afternoon.