Prep boys hockey: Hermantown throttles Luverne in state quarterfinal
The Hawks' Aaron Evjen scored his fifth goal of the postseason in the win.
ST. PAUL — Seventy-one seconds was all it took for Hermantown to seize control of its state quarterfinal matchup against Luverne Wednesday at the Xcel Energy Center.
Senior Aaron Evjen scored at the 6:28 mark to put the Hawks in front, with River Freeman and Evan Gunderson each adding goals at the 7:09 and 7:39 mark of the first period to put Hermantown in command en route to a 6-0 win.
Ironically, the Hawks struggled in the first few minutes to get shots, but a slashing penalty on Nolan Barker gave Luverne a chance to go up. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, it also put Hermantown’s penalty kill unit on the ice.
“Our penalty kill has given us momentum throughout the year,” Hermantown coach Pat Andrews said. “We don’t want to take penalties, but we also don’t play afraid to take penalties because we’re good from the goal line out and these guys work their butts off on the PK. It’s been good all year and it was good again today. It got us into the game a little bit. Sometimes you just need something to happen — positive or negative — to get the nerves out.
The Hawks outshot Luverne 16-1 in the first period, but Luverne was able to make a push after Hermantown’s scoring barrage. The Cardinals would hold Hermantown scoreless for more than 25 minutes of play until Wyatt Carlson put a shot over the right shoulder of Luverne goalie Tyler Arends.
“To see those three goals go in within a minute in the first period, that can break a lot of teams,” Cardinals coach Philip Paquette said. “I’m proud of the way that this group hung with it, they held a team like Hermantown scoreless until midway through the third period — hung with it every step of the way. In the end, I believe the better team won today, but I’m extremely proud for what our guys earned, both this season and the way they play the game today.
After Carlson’s goal, Dallas Vieau scored on a power play goal late in the game and George Peterson added another goal 26 seconds later to finish the scoring.
Evjen, who had just four goals in the regular season, has scored five in the Hawks’ four postseason games, including the game-winner against Hibbing/Chisholm in the Section 7A semifinal Feb. 27.
“It feels amazing to come through for my team when they need me,” Evjen said. “I’ve got to give credit to my linemates again — Sam Swenson and Mason Sundbom — they made great plays for me and I just buried it.”
Andrews said Evjen is a player who has grown up in the Hermantown program from playing squirts until his time on the varsity squad who has patiently waited for his opportunity.
“He’s playing with a ton of confidence right now,” Andrews said. “There’s been flashes of it throughout the year and it wasn’t that he wasn’t playing well throughout the year, I just think the goals weren’t there. He’s playing at another level of speed and I think playing now all the way through his senior year in varsity hockey, he’s just getting better and better and better because he shows up and works his butt off every day.”
Hermantown will face Mahtomedi in the state semifinal at 11 a.m. Friday at the Xcel Energy Center.
First period scoring — 1. H, Aaron Evjen (Matthew Kauppinen), 6:28; 2. H, River Freeman (Kade Kohanski), 7:09; 3. H, Gunderson, 7:39.
Second period scoring — No scoring.
Third period scoring — 4. H, Wyatt Carlson (Josh Kauppinen), 2:53; 5. Dallas Vieau (Kohanski), 14:38 (pp); 6. H, George Peterson (Freeman), 15:04.
Saves — Tyler Arends, L, 43; Dane Callaway, H, 13.