State boys hockey: Hermantown falls to East Grand Forks in Class A title game
ST. PAUL -- Bruce Plante finally got his wish. For so long a critic of private schools participating in the Minnesota Class A high school boys hockey tournament, Plante's Hermantown Hawks opposed a fellow public school in Saturday's championship ...
ST. PAUL -- Bruce Plante finally got his wish.
For so long a critic of private schools participating in the Minnesota Class A high school boys hockey tournament, Plante's Hermantown Hawks opposed a fellow public school in Saturday's championship game at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
The result was largely the same.
East Grand Forks used a five-goal second period to overwhelm the Hawks 7-3 in front of 6,589 fans, about half of whom figured it was Hermantown's turn to win it all after the Hawks lost the previous four title games to private-school powerhouses St. Thomas Academy and Breck.
"It feels a lot better losing to East Grand Forks than anybody else that we've lost to," Plante said. "They're the same kind of program we are."
Plante then conceded: "It's still second place."
Indeed, it is, and the lopsided outcome of this one was a bitter pill to swallow for Hermantown (24-5-2), which took a 1-0 lead into the second period after Scott Wasbotten bounced one in from behind the net late in the first. Wasbotten's 24th goal of the season helped the Hawks negate the sting of wasting three power plays in the opening stanza -- uncharacteristic for a team that operated at about a 35 percent success rate with a man advantage.
"To kill off three power plays and only come out of that period down 1-0 -- and on kind of a fluky goal -- I think that was a win for us," said Green Wave coach Tyler Palmiscno, whose team ended the year on a 20-game winning streak en route to the program's first title.
Known more for possessing the state's stingiest defense, the top-seeded Green Wave (28-2-1) nonetheless took control with a relentless offensive display in the second period. Dixon Bowen got things started when he split a pair of Hermantown defenders at the blue line and went to his backhand to beat Hawks goalie Adam Smith to tie it a goal apiece.
Things quickly got out of hand from there. Four more players scored as East Grand Forks extended its lead to 5-1.
"It was overwhelming," the Green Wave's Tye Ausmus said. "We kept getting the bounces and everything was going our way in that second period. We capitalized on our chances."
East Grand Forks outshot Hermantown 15-6 in the decisive period.
"Once that momentum switches and they're kicking your butt, it's hard to switch it back," Plante said.
Entering the third, all the Hawks were tasked with was scoring four goals in 17 minutes against a defense that allowed just 1.3 per game.
"They're all big kids, and they play hard hockey," Wasbotten said. "They're just hard to beat."
The two teams, who played the first all-public school Class A title game since 2003, traded two goals each in the final period.
Seven different players scored for East Grand Forks, which survived a scare in the semifinals against St. Cloud Cathedral to advance to Saturday's final.
"We worked hard all season long for this, and it paid off," Bowen said.
For the Hawks, who beat New Prague in the semis, it was another painful end to an otherwise-successful season. Getting to five straight championship games is nothing to scoff at, Plante had said throughout the week, but that reality didn't do much to mask the pain Saturday.
"I didn't want it to end, but it did," Wasbotten said. "It was a hell of a ride."
Plante, who started the postgame press conference by saying he was "completely OK" with the setback because his team played as hard as it could against an opponent that was simply better than Hermantown, still confessed that this five-year string of near-misses has taken a toll.
"It gets to be a pretty big sack of rocks on your back after a while," the coach said.
"It gets heavy."
East Grand Forks 0-5-2--7
First period -- 1. H, Scott Wasbotten (Nate Pionk), 16:17.
Second period -- 2. EGF, Dixon Bowen (Tanner Tweten, Grant Loven), 2:36; 3. EGF, Eddie Eades (Taylor Brierley), 3:43. 4. EGF, Jace Pesch (Loven, Reed Corbid), 6:51 (pp); 5. EGF, Loven (Bowen, Tye Ausmus), 14:26; 6. EGF, Corbid (Loven), 16:28.
Third period -- 7. H, Parker Hawk (Josh Lenard), 2:31; 8. EGF, Cale Mack (Bowen), 9:20; 9. EGF, Tweten (Corbid, Brandon Loven), 12:03 (pp); 10. H, Jared Zeleznikar (Jack LeBlanc, Sam Gibson), 12:52 (pp).
Saves -- Josh Weber, EGF, 22; Adam Smith, H, 15; Jace Thomas, H, 7.