Be careful what you wish.
The 2015 Minnesota boy's state high school hockey tournament will have a rematch of last year's final. It's just not the one everyone expected.
Five-time consecutive Class A runner-up Hermantown will have a chance to be shed its bridesmaid status and be the bride Saturday. The Hawks defeated St. Cloud Apollo in the semifinals Friday and will face the team that last defeated Hermantown in the title game, defending champion East Grand Forks. The Green Wave earned a chance to defend its crown with a 5-2 win over Mahtomedi.
However, it was in Class AA where the expected #1 vs. #2 match-up of Lakeville North and Edina will not happen. Section 1AA champion Lakeville North held its end of the bargain, scoring four goals in the third period to defeat Eden Prairie. Duluth East spoiled the Panthers' plans Friday. Mike Randolph's team, coming off of an emotional 6-5 overtime win Thursday, continued to ride high with a 3-1 win over Edina to become the Panthers' dance partner.
Attendance for Class A was 12,487. Attendance for Class AA set a Minnesota indoor hockey game record at 21,609. (A sellout at Xcel Energy Center is officially 18,064.)
Class A Semifinals
East Grand Forks 5 - Mahtomedi 2
East Grand Forks and Mahtomedi played arguably the toughest, hardest fought game of the tournament, but a hat trick from the Green Wave's Grant Loven was too much for Mahtomedi to overcome as the Zephyrs fell 5-2 in the morning's first Class A semifinal.
With Mahtomedi putting intense scrutiny on East Grand Forks Mr. Hockey candidate Dixon Bowen (North Dakota commit), that opened a lot of space for Bowen's linemate Loven to work. Loven got the scoring started at 8:16 of the first period, but was answered by a Mahtomedi power play goal four minutes later.
Loven put East Grand Forks up 2-1 in the second period, but was again answered by a Mahtomedi goal from Timothy Kuivinen two minutes later. Loven's third goal of the game at 13:54 would stand as the game-winner, however.
East Grand Forks outshot Mahtomedi 11-5 in the third period, and would add two more goals to their lead as insurance to advance to the Class A championship game for the second consecutive season.
Hermantown 2 - St. Cloud Apollo 0
Minnesota HS Class A QF Results & Recaps
The top three seeds won Wednesday before #5 St. Cloud Apollo ended the night with a 1-0 overtime win over #4 Breck.
In the second afternoon semifinal, a pesky defensive effort from St. Cloud Apollo gave top seed Hermantown all they could handle, but the Hawks were able to sneak two goals past Apollo goalie Nick Althaus to secure a 2-0 victory and advance to the Class A championship game for the fifth-straight season.
St. Cloud Apollo's defense picked up where they left off from Wednesday night's shutout victory over Breck, blocking shots and limiting quality chances to hold the Hawks off the scoreboard for the first frame. Jesse Jacques finally broke the seal for Hermantown at 6:44 of the second period when his slap shot from the right circle was tipped by an Apollo defenseman and snuck past Althaus for the goal.
Cole Koepke gave Hermantown a 2-0 lead early in the third period, and from there, the Hawks were able to relax, playing a safe defensive game and limiting transition opportunities for the Eagles. Hermantown outshot Apollo 8-3 and never allowed the Eagles to pull their goalie in the game's waning moments to secure the win.
Hermantown outshot Apollo 25-13 for the game for their second shutout of the tournament. They'll meet East Grand Forks tomorrow at 1pm in a rematch of last year's title game, which was won by East Grand Forks.
Class AA Semifinals
Duluth East 3 - Edina 1
The Edynasty is over for now. Cinderella made sure to get another game at the ball.
Missing an injured Dylan Malmquist (Notre Dame commit), Edina fell for the first time in 2015. 16-10-4 Duluth East and head coach Mike Randolph continued its Cinderella run with a 3-1 victory over the two-time defending Class AA champions to advance to the 2015 Class AA title game.
Both Altmann brothers scored go-ahead goals for the Greyhounds, which was one of three unseeded teams entering the State Tournament.
Duluth East fell behind early like it has throughout the postseason. Edina senior Patrick Haug redirected a shot to give the Hornets a 1-0 lead.
That would be as bad as Duluth East would trail unlike Thursday when the Section 7AA champs had to come back from 3-0 and 5-2 deficits. The Greyhounds responded in the first period with Luke Dow getting a power play goal when he was able to beat Edina goalie Kobi Boe on a wraparound.
A diving Nick Altmann put Duluth East ahead 31 seconds into the second period. That held until Ash Altmann got insurance for his teamand the loud delight of every non-Edina fan in attendance with 2:41 left. After the Greyhounds blocked an Edina shot, Altmann went on a breakaway on the other end, finishing with a backhand lifted over the pads of Boe, who stopped 21 shots Friday.
Duluth East goalie Gunner Howg made 25 saves in victory.
Lakeville North 6 - Eden Prairie 2
Ryan Edquist stood tall when Lakeville North needed him and Max Johnson broke a tie game open against Eden Prairie.
Johnson gave the Panthers the lead for good on a power play with 11:17 left. With Eden Prairie twice coming back, Edquist, a Minnesota commit, kept the high-scoring Eagles at bay. The junior goaltender ended up stopping all 14 third period shots in a 6-2 win.
Lakeville North's Henry Enebak scored his second goal in as many nights to kick off the scoring on a 3 on 1 odd-man rush with 9:15 left in the first.
Eden Prairie goalie Shaun Durocher made one his 15 saves with a big stop on Johnson in final 20 seconds of the first period. He and the Eagles were rewarded 23 seconds into the second period when Andy Aguilar tied the game at 1.
Four minutes later Jack Sadek (Minnesota commit) scored his 7th goal of the season on a power play slap shot to make it 2-1 before Eden Prairie's Nicky Leivermann beat Edquist from a sharp angle below the circle to tie it again with 7:54 remaining in the 2nd.
That held until Johnson's goal began four straight Lakeville North goals in the final period. Johnson was patient, waiting his turn when a rebound off of a shot from the point went directly to him and the junior was able to tap it home to give Lakeville North a 3-2 lead.
Chaz Dufon, standing on the back door, finished a beautiful set of passing with Nick Poehling and Jack Poehling (both St. Cloud State commits) for Lakeville North's first 2 goal lead of the night with 9:08 left.
Edquist, who made 35 saves, denied Eden Prairie's Michael Graham on a breakaway with 7:40 remaining in regulation just when the Eagles looked to be threatening. He stopped several more tough shots before Jack Poehling made it 5-2 with 3:30 left in the game.
Enebak bookended the scoring with a 160 foot empty netter.
With the win, last year's AA runner-up Lakeville North won for the 30th time in 30 games this season.
(3) East Grand Forks vs. (1) Hermantown - 12 PM
Duluth East vs. (1) Lakeville North - 7 PM