Once again, the East Grand Forks Green Wave rode out the highs and lows to a Class A title.
Tanner Tweten began and ended the day with goals. His second of the game came 3:34 into overtime to defeat Hermantown 5-4 Saturday in the Minnesota high school Class A boy's hockey championship. Austin Monda also scored twice for East Grand Forks, which is the small school champion for the second consecutive year.
Reaching a Minnesota boy's high school hockey record six consecutive title games, runner-up Hermantown has now lost all six.
The Hawks did not go away easy in heartbreak. Coming back from a two goal deficit in the first period, Hermantown matched that by erasing another two goal deficit in the final minute with the goalie pulled to send the game to overtime. A diving save to stop an empty-net goal a minute earlier ended up being plenty more meaningful.
Despite being out-shot 12-6 in the first period, East Grand Forks took a 2-0 lead into intermission with the story being a tale of two power plays one after the other. Hermantown was unable to score on its chance with the man advantage.
A minute later East Grand Forks had a two goal lead. Monda finished a Tanner Tweten pass on the Green Wave's first shot to add to Tweten's earlier goal.
Parker Hawk scored for the Hawks 1:28 into the second period. Hermantown captain Nate Pionk tied the game with 12:58 left in the second. Beginning from the outside of the ice, Pionk was able to move around a defenseman and charged the net for his fourth goal of the tournament.
East Grand Forks re-took the lead with 6:46 left in 2nd when Dixen Bowen (North Dakota commit) crashed the net and scored. Monda got his second of the game on a counter-attack after Hermantown had a chance to tie the game. Instead, the Green Wave took a 4-2 lead and appeared to be in control.
Hermantown had a late PP with 6 minutes left that East Grand Forks killed. When the Hawks pulled goalie Luke Olson, who made20 saves, with a couple minutes left it felt like the final end of a familiar string.
Instead, the Hermantown players were at their best at their most desperate hour.
With the extra skater out, Wyatt Aamodt made it a one goal game with 32.8 seconds remaining in regulation. 17 seconds later defenseman Eric Gotz shot a bouncing puck from the point that shocked the State of Hockey and Green Wave goalie Josh Weber to tie the game at 4.
Weber made 27 saves for East Grand Forks.
In a sports movie, that would have been the catalyst to finish a storybook ending. The five time runner-up coming back for its first title with two last-minute goals? Coming back the same way St. Thomas Academy did two years ago? You can't write that better. (Sorry Duluth East and the three goal comeback against STA.)
Unfortunately, one team's Disney movie is another's heartbreak. In the extra session East Grand Forks took the title and happy ending. From the left circle in overtime, Tweten's wrist shot hit the net and sent the Green Wave celebrating back-to-back titles.