Minnetonka celebrates winning its first state Bantam AA title. Photo credit: TJ Madisen, YHH.
The 2014-15 Minnesota youth hockey season featured outstanding district and playoff action and hundreds of invitational tournaments held around the state. State tournaments at a variety of levels run by a dedicated force of volunteers put an exclamation point on an exciting season.
There were several firsts last March as a few associations won their first ever state titles. Minnetonka scored the Bantam A/AA crown, defeating Edina 2-1 in a spectacular game held at the Duluth Heritage Center.
Edina finished the 2014-15 season as Junior Gold state champions. Photo credit: Minnesota Hockey
Edina beat Wayzata in one of the more bizarre and exciting youth games in recent history. During the Junior Gold A title game of the 2015 State Championship, Plymouth Ice Arena lost power, postponing the game until the following night. When action resumed, the boys played a full regulation game to a tie and then a whopping seven overtimes. The teams skated three, 10-minute overtime periods, the ice was resurfaced, then three more 10-minute periods and a second resurfacing. Finally, with 6:03 left in the seventh overtime, Edina defenseman Chris Bloom scored a power play goal to mercifully end the hockey marathon at 10:12 p.m.
Minnetonka (AA), Orono (A) and Wayzata (B) all won state titles last year at the Bantam level, and each had an interesting story. The Skippers and Spartans each won their first Minnesota boys state titles at any level – doing it in the same rink 90 minutes apart. Wayzata won the State Bantam B Tournament for the third year in a row in Rochester, marking the first time an association has won the Bantam B’s three straight times.
Minnesota lost a great Bantam last year when Eastview’s Patrick Schoonover passed away playing in the Battle for the Blue Ox in Brainerd. Truly a sad moment for our friends in Apple Valley and the entire state.
After the season, Gavin Hain from Grand Rapids was named YHH Bantam Player of the Year for his great season. Hain, a ninth grader, amassed over 100 points and helped lead his team to the State Tournament in Duluth.
Matthew Gleason (left, in blue), YHH Peewee Player of the Year, scores to lead his team to State. Photo credit: Kurt Rolling, YHH.
Prior Lake (AA), St. Paul (A) and Edina White (B) struck gold at the State Tournament in March. The Lakers were led by YHH Goalie of the Year Carson Stokes, who beat three top teams in Woodbury, including No. 1 Minneapolis, for the title. St. Paul won the A title in Lakeville, beating Warroad. The Capitals were led by Wiz Wyatt Player of the Year Matthew Gleason, who carried them down the stretch. Edina White took the state title in Rochester last March, beating Orono White 5-2 in Peewee B.
Andover Squirt A finished the season ranked No. 1 by YHH. Photo credit: Andover Youth Hockey Association.
While no state champions were crowned at the Squirt level, the season was packed with excitement and great play, particularly at some of the larger tournaments. The Andover Huskies won the Moose Goheen and the Fargo International and were ranked No. 1 to end the season in Squirt A. Moorhead ended Osseo Maple Grove’s 94-game unbeaten streak, getting a key goal by Justin Stalboerger. While Rochester Red had a great team last season, led by YHH Squirt Player of the Year Tyler Haskins and a great supporting cast, they lost to Andover in the Fargo Tournament and in the semifinals to Osseo Maple Grove in the YHH Squirtacular. It was Osseo Maple Grove’s third straight Squirtacular title, which they will defend this year in Blaine.
New Ulm-Sleepy Eye, 2015 14B state champs. Photo credit: Minnesota Hockey.
Edina won the U14A title with a convincing 6-1 win over Anoka. The Hornets beat arch rival Wayzata the day before, in an epic 2-1 overtime win. New Ulm-Sleepy Eye won the 14B title on their home ice with a 3-0 shutout win over Litchfield.
Forest Lake won the U12A crown by defeating Brainerd 3-2. They took a quick 3-0 lead after the first period and hung on to win their association’s first title at any level. The Rangers got by northern power Roseau in the Semifinals, scoring a late third-period goal. Brainerd also won in dramatic fashion beating Edina in triple overtime in East Grand Forks.