Hockey Tournament May be Remembered as the Best Ever
The 2017 boys state hockey tournament could be considered the best ever. The event featured comebacks, upsets, drama and a little bit of controversy.
Minnesota's crown jewel of state tournaments may have outdone itself this year. The first two days of the boys hockey tournament featured five upsets in the eight games played. Defending Class A champion Hermantown was nearly dethroned by Luverne. The Hawks won all three games in overtime to repeat as state champs. The title game went two overtimes and Hermantown seemed to win the title and started their celebration before the apparent game-winning goal was waived off by a goalie interference call after video review. After all players retrieved their gloves and sticks that had been strewn about the Xcel Center ice, the Hawks won it for real a short time later. Hermantown rallied from big deficits in both the semifinals and finals.
The team they beat in the final, the little-known Moose from Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake, was the subject of a bit of controversy as their combined enrollment of 1,900 is well above the cutoff for Class A teams. However, the Moose successfully petitioned to single-A based on competitiveness, according to a story in the Star Tribune. MALM only made it to the finals due to a remarkable rally from behind against Northfield in the semifinals. The Moose came back from a 2-0 hole, scoring the game-winner with three seconds remaining in the third period.
Fans love when the northern teams do well and the Class AA final featured Grand Rapids and Moorhead. The Thunderhawks captured the crown 6-3, their first title since 1980. The Spuds will have to wait for their first title after their eighth runner-up finish. Top seed Eden Prairie beat Lakeville South 3-2 in overtime in the Twin Cities championship game, also known as the third-place game. Many fans enjoy cheering against the private schools. St. Thomas Academy and Hill-Murray were forced into the consolation bracket.
Other highlights included the competitiveness and attendance. Each semifinal game was decided by one goal on Friday, one game in overtime. It can't get any closer than that. Attendance records were set in the Class A tournament. The upper level was opened on Friday and Saturday for the A tournament, which is a rare occurrence.
A new set of memories and stories will come out of the 2018 tourney.