Strictly Business - Warriors Advance

by Pete Waggoner

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St. Paul, MN - The Warroad Warriors had not lost to a Class A team this year and are in search of their 5th state title.  It is fair to say the Grant Slukynsky show was full on display as he scored a natural hat trick in the first 6:26 of the game to help lift his team to a 9-3 win over the Hutchinson Tigers.  Slukynsyky had a staggering 7 point night (3g-4a) 

Two of the three goals were beauties, bar down, for his first and third while his second was a beautiful forehand to backhand effort.  Coach Jay Harswick’s Warriors (27-2-0) are a rink rat type of team that played with pace and jumped on loose pucks all night long.  They made things difficult on the Hutchinson defense with a smothering forecheck as well. 

“It was crazy, you know, probably could not have dreamed of a better start,” Slukynysky said.  “It was a lot of fun. Just seeing all the people here and it was a great start to get off to.”

The Tigers (19-9-1) responded with 5:48 left in the first period to cut the deficit to 4-1 on a quick snapper by Hutchinson’s Nik Johnson.  His shot eluded Warroad goalie Zach Foster low to the glove hand site on his team’s first shot of the game.  The Warriors took a 6-1 lead into the first period intermission.  Slukynsky was in on five of the six goals collecting his hat trick and two assists.  That effort tied the legend John Mayasich with 5 points in a period.  Mayasich set the record in 1951 against Williams.  

Warroad’s freshman phenom Jayson Shaugabay had a pair of goals in the first period to go along with an assist.  The Warriors effort produced the third straight running time game of the quarterfinal day in the Class A tournament.  The Tigers pushed back however, with two goals of their own by after Brady Knorr scored both goals 1:02 apart cutting the deficit to five goals at 8-3.  The Warriors potted a goal at 7:30 of the period as Shaugabay and Slukynsky teamed up again.  

After their 5-1 win over Minneapolis on Hockey Day Minnesota, Warrior head coach Jay Hardwick did not want that to be the highlight of his team’s season while just making the tournament would not be enough either. 

“That was our goal at Hockey Day to make it down to the state tournament and we accomplished that goal,” Hardwick said.  “Coming down to the state tournament, taking in the whole experience, it’s great but also I have been trying to tell all of our players that they thought it was fun winning the section title,  can’t imagine how good it feels when you win a state title.  That is definitely my goal and it is a business trip for me as much fun as it is also.” 

Hardwick did not feel as though his team was particularly sharp against the Tigers with the exception of Slukynsky and Shaugabay.  The Warrior bench boss noted that his team will need to be better on Friday afternoon when they face the winner of Delano and Mahtomedi.  

Slukynsky, who is committed to play at Northern Michigan University, now has 96 points on the season (37g-59a).  Cliche as it is, Slukynsky was a man among boys. Shaugabay now as 30 goals to his credit on the season to go along with 37 assists, stunning numbers for a freshman.  The senior and freshman combined for (6g-4a-10pts).  Up next for the Warriors is a semi-final round game Friday at 1pm  against the winner of Delano and Mahtomedi while the Tigers will face the loser of that game at noon.