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Prep boys hockey: Hermantown defeats Monticello 4-2 in Class A quarterfinal

Craig Lassig / For the News Tribune Monticello sophomore Matt Miller scores one of his two goals in the second period to trim Hermantown's lead to 3-2 after two periods of a Class A state tournament quarterfinal tonight at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. 1 / 2
Craig Lassig / For the News Tribune Hermantown's Jacob Herter (7) scores a first-period goal for the Hawks in tonight's Class A state tournament quarterfinal against Monticello. Hermantown leads 3-2 after two periods in the rematch of last season's title game. 2 / 2

ST. PAUL — The last time the Hawks and Moose stepped on the Xcel Energy Center ice together, nearly a year ago, it produced an instant classic.

Dylan Samberg’s goal in double overtime gave Hermantown a 4-3 win over Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake and a second consecutive Minnesota Class A high school boys hockey title.

While the teams’ rematch in a state tournament quarterfinal tonight wasn’t quite as enthralling, Hermantown’s 4-2 win over Monticello (the Moose dropped the co-op with Annandale) had its own back-and-forth moments.

Thanks to two second-period goals by Matt Miller, Monticello trimmed a three-goal deficit to 3-2 after two periods.

The Moose continued to push the tempo in the third and senior goaltender Tyler Klatt, who struggled in the early going, stopped a point-blank shot from Brady Baker to keep the game a one-goal margin midway through the period.

But the Hawks, who advanced to their ninth straight state tournament by beating Greenway in overtime in the Section 7A final, showed they know how to play in tight games. Junior defenseman Darian Gotz rifled a shot from the right point that sophomore Blake Biondi tipped in midair for his third goal of the night.

Biondi scored two goals and senior linemate Jacob Herter added another to give the Hawks a three-goal cushion in a game they controlled from the outset.

Biondi flipped Herter’s behind-the-net pass underneath Klatt’s arm just 2:47 into the game.

Herter knocked the next one in from the right doorstep on a power play at 6:44.

The top line of senior center Tyler Watkins and wings Biondi and Herter caused problems from the opening shift and were primarily behind the 38-26 shots-on-goal edge the Hawks owned.

But the Hawks knew a two-goal wasn’t a sure thing as they proved against the Moose last year when they trailed 2-0 and 3-1 before rallying to win.

Shortly after killing off a penalty early in the second period, the top-ranked Hawks made it 3-0. Biondi plucked a rebound from an Indio Dowd shot to the right of Klatt and sent it over the netminder’s right shoulder at 1:51 to seemingly put the top seeds in command.

The three-goal margin didn’t last long, however, as Miller, a sophomore forward, put a wrist shot from just inside the blue line past an unscreened Cole Manahan at 3:22.

Miller scored again 2:17 later when he poked the puck away from Sam High at the top of the blue line, skated in on a breakaway and put his shot between Manahan’s legs. Manahan finished with 24 saves.