ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Prep boys hockey: Grand Rapids rallies to reach semifinals

ST. PAUL -- Grand Rapids coach Trent Klatt made it a point earlier in the week to downplay the momentum his team, coming off a pair of stirring section playoff victories, would carry into the Minnesota high school boys hockey tournament.

Grand Rapids' Jack Burnson crashes the net to score the go-ahead goal on Maple Grove's Ethan Haider on Thursday night during the Minnesota Class AA boys hockey tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. (David Samson / Forum News Service)
Grand Rapids' Jack Burnson crashes the net to score the go-ahead goal on Maple Grove's Ethan Haider on Thursday night during the Minnesota Class AA boys hockey tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. (David Samson / Forum News Service)

ST. PAUL - Grand Rapids coach Trent Klatt made it a point earlier in the week to downplay the momentum his team, coming off a pair of stirring section playoff victories, would carry into the Minnesota high school boys hockey tournament.

"Well, we have to be careful because I think the momentum can change," he said Tuesday aboard a bus that had just received a police and fire truck escort out of town.

Sure enough, Maple Grove scored 20 seconds into the teams' Class AA quarterfinal Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center, and the Crimson led 2-0 after 4:26.

Then it was their turn to experience the cruel frailty of momentum.

Trailing 2-1, Grand Rapids turned the second period into a Halloween-themed parade to the net, erupting for four goals en route to a 6-4 victory that sent the Thunderhawks into Friday night's semifinals opposite superstar Casey Mittelstadt and Eden Prairie.

ADVERTISEMENT

In his post-game news conference, Klatt joked that his squad seems to relish the added challenge of playing from behind. Him? Not so much.

“We find ourselves in situations like that, where we have to come back," Klatt said. "We have that ability. We’re certainly not trying to put ourselves in the hole, but we’re not worried when we get behind a couple goals because we can score.

"It would keep me from having a heart attack on the bench if we would just start at the beginning of the game.”

Just as he did in the section semifinals against Elk River, Gavin Hain jumpstarted Grand Rapids' offense with a power-play goal from the right faceoff circle, the result of a wide-open shooting lane Hain couldn't pass up. The first-period tally was a harbinger of things to come in the second.

Fifth-seeded Grand Rapids (21-7-1) seized control early, holding No. 4 Maple Grove (22-7) without a shot on goal for the first 8:15 of the second period. The Thunderhawks, meanwhile, were busy peppering freshman Crimson goalie Ethan Haider.

John Stampohar started the spree with the equalizer, then Jack Burnson knocked the puck out of the air for a power-play goal that put Grand Rapids in front for the first time. Less than a minute later, it was Drake Anderson's turn, on a lethal wrister from the left side that trickled through Haider's legs. Blake McLaughlin made it 5-2 by whacking in his own rebound after eluding a defender on the wing and bouncing out front.

"If you take away that second period, we played a hell of a game," Maple Grove coach and former Wisconsin-Superior player Todd Bergland said.

This wasn't momentum - this was a freight train. And it carried the Thunderhawks into Friday night's semifinal rematch with the top-seeded Eagles, who rallied past defending champ Wayzata 3-1 on Thursday.

ADVERTISEMENT

Grand Rapids defeated Eden Prairie 3-1 on Dec. 16. But it was the Eagles who came out on top at last year's state tournament, 6-2.

"We all know how good EP is," Klatt said. "We've been reading about them and Casey Mittelstadt all year. We're going to have to bring everything we have to the table."

McLaughlin finished with two goals on a night in which Grand Rapids received offensive contributions from up and down its lineup. The Thunderhawks will need more of the same tonight if they are to reach their first title game since back-to-back appearances in 2006 and '07 - both losses.

Friday's first semifinal pits Lakeville South vs. Moorhead.

Grand Rapids 1-4-1-6

Maple Grove 2-0-2-4

First period - 1. MG, Trevor Kukkonen (Sam Huff) 0:20; 2. MG, Huff (Jack Kelly, Jarrett Cammarata), 4:26 (pp); 3. GR, Gavin Hain (Michael Heitkamp), 11:32 (pp).

Second period - 4. GR, Stampohar, 5:03; 5. GR, Jack Burnson (Keaghan Graeber, Heitkamp), 10:55 (pp); 6. GR, Drake Anderson (Micah Miller), 11:45; 7. GR, Blake McLaughlin (Burnson, Hain), 13:36.

ADVERTISEMENT

Third period - 8. MG, Justin Kelley, 0:18; 9. GR, McLaughlin (Miller), 6:13; 10. MG, Jayden Walsh (Huff, Kelley), 9:03. Saves - Zach Stejskal, Gr, 24; Ethan Haider, MG, 28.

Related Topics: HOCKEYGRAND RAPIDS
What To Read Next
Minnesota got two goals in the first period, but wouldn't find the back of the net again in the game.
The Wilderness still haven't solved Wisconsin in four attempts
The 28th induction ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, May 4.
Hermantown alum Beau Janzig had an assist on Hunter Bulger’s game-winning goal.