Duluth East surprised several State Tournament opponents before finally being outlasted in the Boys' 2A title game. Photo credit: YHH.
A record-setting event witnessed by more than 135,000 fans in person, the 2015 Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament lived up to the hype once again, providing another year of memorable moments for the State of Hockey.
When all was said and done, the tourney delivered big upsets, an undefeated champion and a plethora of standout individual performances. Hoisting title trophies this year were Lakeville North (Class 2A Boys), East Grand Forks (Class 1A Boys), Hill-Murray (Class 2A Girls) and Thief River Falls (Class 1A Girls).
Off the ice, Edina’s Taylor Williamson and Elk River’s Jake Jaremko were recognized as Minnesota’s Ms. and Mr. Hockey, respectively. Williamson, Edina’s captain, registered 40 goals and 20 assists in 27 games to earn the honor. Jaremko notched 79 points (25 goals, 54 assists) in 28 games this season for the Elks.
Following are brief recaps of the tourney’s key games:
Led by a trio of star siblings (all committed to play collegiately at St. Cloud State), top-ranked Lakeville North completed its quest of an undefeated season, knocking off surprising foe Duluth East 4-1 to win the Class 2A Boys’ Hockey State Championship at Xcel Energy Center. The Poehling-led Panthers became the 17th team in tournament history to go undefeated, finishing the 2014-15 season with a perfect 31-0 record. Goals by Ryan and Jack Poehling gave Lakeville North a 2-0 lead early in the second period that grew to 3-0 in the third on a goal by Angelo Altavilla. Nick Poehling capped the scoring and also contributed three assists in the title contest.
Duluth East, which entered the tournament with a 14-10-4 mark, continued its amazing post-season run by stunning two-time defending state champion Edina 3-1 in their Class 2A boys’ semifinal to advance to the title game. It was yet another come-from-behind effort for the Greyhounds, which got goals from Luke Dow and brothers Nick and Ash Altmann. Duluth East goaltender Gunnar Howg made 25 saves in the win.
In the other Class 2A boys’ semifinal matchup, Lakeville North moved one step closer to history with a 6-2 win over No. 5 seed Eden Prairie, in a game that was closer than the final score would indicate. The teams traded goals and were tied, 2-2, after two periods. Max Johnson’s goal at 5:43 of the third gave the Panthers a 3-2 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Edina's Garrett Wait watches his shot hit the back of the net. Photo credit: YHH.
Hill-Murray defended its Class 2A girls’ title and enacted a bit of revenge in the process, coming from behind to upend top-seeded and three-time champion Minnetonka 2-1. Hill-Murray’s Jess Bonfe scored the game-winning goal at the 2:03 mark of the third period, after teammate Laura Anderson had tied the score at 1-1 in the previous stanza. The Skippers’ Emma Bigham kicked off the scoring just 21 seconds after the game-opening faceoff. The Pioneers’ win turned the tables on Minnetonka, which had defeated Hill-Murray in the 2013 title game.
Hill-Murray took advantage of Edina’s Taylor Williamson serving a five minute major penalty for contact to the head, scoring a power-play goal with just 4:12 remaining in the third period. Laura Anderson’s late tally in this tense, Class 2A semifinal battle was the finishing touch on the Pioneers’ 2-1 win, in which they outshot Edina 47-19 (including 22-6 in the third period). Anna Goldstein made 45 saves for the Hornets, while Leah Patrick stopped 18 of 19 shots for the victorious Pioneers.
Minnetonka jumped out early against Lakeville South, scoring two first period goals, en route to a 5-1 Class 2A girls’ semifinal victory. Kippin Keller (two goals), Emma Bigham, Katie McMillan and Annelise Rice scored for the Skippers, backstopped by a solid, 27-save performance from goaltender Tatyana Delaittre.
Edina (shown here against Eden Prairie), claimed third place at last year's State Tournament. Photo credit: YHH.
East Grand Forks defended its Class 1A boys’ crown, surviving a miraculous third period rally by Hermantown to defeat the Hawks 5-4 in overtime in a rematch of last year’s title matchup. The loss sent Hermantown – which scored two goals in the last 33 seconds of regulation to force the deciding extra session – home in second place for the sixth year in a row. Tanner Tweten notched the game-winning goal, his second tally of the contest, while Austin Monda scored twice for the Green Wave.
Hermantown edged St. Cloud Apollo 2-0 in a tight Class 1A boys’ semifinal to earn what has become an annual trip to the championship game. Jesse Jacque scored in the second period and Cole Koepke in the third to give the Hawks the edge. Goaltender Luke Olson made 13 saves to secure the shutout.
Grant Loven’s hat trick propelled East Grand Forks to a 5-2 semifinal victory over Mahtomedi and a return trip to the Class 1A boys’ championship game. The teams went to the locker room after two hard fought, physical periods with the Green Wave ahead 3-2. Third period tallies by Monda and Trevor Selk put the game away for East Grand Forks.
Jack Gunderson (sans glove) scores to give Mahtomedi an early lead against New Ulm. Photo credit: YHH.
Blake’s attempt at a “three-peat” was cut short by Thief River Falls, as Emily Bergland’s goal with 3:06 remaining in the third period gave the Prowlers a 2-1 lead and proved to be the Class 1A girls’ championship game winner. Callie Fagerstrom would add a short-handed, empty net goal in the final minute to solidify the 3-1 victory and title, in the Prowlers’ first trip to the state tournament. Thief River Falls finished 26-1-3 in its championship season.
Top-seeded Thief River Falls dominated South St. Paul in its Class 1A girls’ semifinal, outscoring the Packers 4-1 and outshooting them 53-8. Briana Jorde registered a goal and an assist for the Prowlers, who opened the scoring just 56 seconds into the contest. Corbyn Jenkins notched the lone goal for South St. Paul, which got a 49-save effort from senior goaltender Sydney Conley.
Defending champion Blake blanked Red Wing 3-0 to earn another trip to the Class 1A girls’ title game. Jordan Chancellor scored twice for the Bears, which outshot Red Wing 47-19. Blake goaltender Anna Kruesel stopped all 19 shots she faced to preserve the shutout.
Thief River Falls was last year's Class A champion, finishing 26-1-3. Photo credit: YHH.