State boys hockey: Late goal lifts St. Thomas Academy over Hermantown in Class A title game
ST. PAUL -- Tommy Novak ended Hermantown's hopes of a monumental upset and allowed St. Thomas Academy to skate off with its third consecutive -- and final -- Minnesota Class A boys hockey state title by scoring with 6.1 seconds remaining this aft...
ST. PAUL -- Tommy Novak ended Hermantown's hopes of a monumental upset and allowed St. Thomas Academy to skate off with its third consecutive -- and final -- Minnesota Class A boys hockey state title by scoring with 6.1 seconds remaining this afternoon at Xcel Energy Center.
Novak, a sophomore forward, skated off the side boards after taking a pass from Wyatt Schmidt and ripped a slap shot off the crossbar for a power-play goal in the waning seconds to give the Cadets a 5-4 victory before 6,894 fans.
Hermantown (25-5-1) led 4-2 after two periods but lost in the finals for a fourth consecutive year, equaling in heartbreak its 5-4 overtime loss two years ago to St. Thomas (27-2-2).
Matt Perry started the comeback with his third goal at 2:53 of the third period as he knocked in a rebound while falling backward. Henry Hart tied the game at 9:05 when he recovered a blocked shot and spun around to find the right corner of the net.
Scott Wasbotten was penalized for holding with 1:57 to play and the Cadets pressured the Hawks' goal with the extra attacker until Novak's game-winner.
The penalty call obviously infuriated Hermantown coach Bruce Plante, who stormed after the on-ice referees following the game and vented his anger amid a chorus of boos from the pro-Hermantown crowd.
Second-period goals by third-line members Ryan Kero and Lane LeGarde and second-liner Wasbotten put Hermantown in position to win its second state title.
Wasbotten broke a 1-1 tie when he batted in a rebound of Joe Muehlbauer's shot from the point at 9:38, just 3 seconds after the end of a power play where the Hawks had kept control of the puck in the Cadets' zone the entire time.
Kero skated to the right edge of the crease and batted in Neal Pionk's backhand pass at 10:46 for a 3-1 lead. And, 31 seconds after the Cadets had halved the deficit on Perry's second goal, LeGarde responded when his shot bounced behind goalie David Zevnik and across the goal line amid a mad scramble of bodies.
Senior winger Chris Benson became the first player to score on St. Thomas during the playoffs when he skated to retreive a pass behind the Cadets' net and stuffed his second attempt past Zevnik for a power-play goal at 15:54 of the first period, evening the score at 1-1.
Perry backhanded in his fifth goal of the state tournament 42 seconds earlier to give the top-ranked Cadets a 1-0 lead. Hawks goaltender Adam Smith had lost possession of his stick moments earlier and was defenseless to stop Perry's close-range shot.
But the Hawks responded 26 seconds into a power play to even the score and end a 42-0 playoff scoring run by St. Thomas, which is seeking to become the first team in either class to win three straight state titles since Bloomington Jefferson did so in Class AA in the 1990s.
Hermantown was seeking to add to the school's lone state title, in 2007 when the team went undefeated. The Hawks had been runners-up the previous three years, including back-to-back losses to St. Thomas.
Hermantown's welcome-home celebration is noon Sunday at the high school. Hermantown 1-3-0--4
St. Thomas Academy 1-1-3--5
First period -- 1. STA, Matt Perry (Danny McManus, Gunnar Regan), 15:12; 2. H, Chris Benson (Bo Gronseth, Neal Pionk), 15:54 (pp).
Second period -- 3. H, Scott Wasbotten (Zach Kramer, Joe Muehlbauer), 9:38; 4. H, Ryan Kero (Neal Pionk), 10:46; 5. STA, Perry (Henry Hart, Tony Bretzman), 15:07; 6. H, Lane LeGarde (Kero), 15:44.
Third period -- 7. STA, Perry (Regan, McManus), 2:53; 8. STA, Hart (Austin Sattler, Jack Stang), 9:05; 9. STA, Tommy Novak (Wyatt Schmidt), 16:53.
Saves -- Adam Smith, H, 15; David Zevnik, STA, 19.
Att. -- 6,894.