Tournament Recap

by Pete Waggoner

St. Paul, MN - 

The sports world has had many events canceled due to the COVID-19 virus.  One thing that was able to play out was the Minnesota State High School Boys Hockey Tournament. Here is a look back on the riveting games of the Minnesota Boys’ State High School Hockey Championships for the Class A and AA.  

Mahtomedi captures first state title

Colin Hagstrom had an incredible day from Xcel Energy Center on Saturday, March 7th netting  the game winning goal, assisting on another, and winning the Herb Brooks Award that capped off a senior year which was plagued with a broken fibula.  He didn’t return to the lineup until January 28th, 2020 and wound up being the hero while cementing his name in Mahtomedi hockey history  forever.  His heroics captured the Minnesota State High School League Boys’s Hockey Class A Championship with a heart stopping 3-2 overtime win over the Hermantown Hawks. 

“The Herb Brooks award is a snapshot of Colin,” Mahtomedi Head Coach Jeff Poeshl said. “He persevered.  He was at every single practice, every team meeting, he was on the bench filling water bottles.  When he had a boot on he was shooting pucks.  You’d come over to the bench at practice and he’d lean over the boards and he would ask someone to pass with him.  He was involved with that broken fibula the whole way.  I don’t know if he was more excited when he stepped on the ice or if we were.  We were all so happy to have him back.  Just a fitting, fitting finish to his senior year.”

Hagstrom’s goal came  on a gorgeous feed from  the bottom of the left circle by  JD Metz.  With a Hermantown player covering Metz tightly he feathered a pass to Hagstrom who was alone  in the slot.  Hagstrom caught the hard pass and shot it over the glove of Hermantown goalie Jacob Backstrom.  The win was indeed surprising to the high school hockey world and after a 9-2 loss to the Hawks earlier in the year, not many gave the Zephyrs a chance except perhaps, the Zeyphyrs.   

“This team does not even resemble the team that played in December against this Hermantown team that pounded us 9-2,” Zephyr Poeshl said. 

Even though Mahtomedi was outshot although, at one point,  had 11 scoring chances and 11 shots, a remarkable number. The Zephyrs rode the offensive playmaking of Metz, the crafty play of Johnson, and the clutch play and leadership of Hagstrom who delivered for his team in the clutch.  The Zephyrs were 2-4 with the power play and killed off all three of Hermantown’s power plays which was a major factor in the outcome of the game.   Coupled with sturdy defensive zone coverage and key goaltending, the Zephyrs held off a Hermantown team that was loaded with talent and experience. The Hawks  outshot Mahtomedi 42-12 with Zephyr goalie Ben Dardis stopping 40 of them including 22 in the third period.  

Strobel lifts Pioneers to 4th state title

The Hill-Murray Pioneers slid under the radar as they have in the past and produced a convincing 4-1 victory over the Eden Prairie Eagles.  Senior Charlie Strobel pleased old-school hockey fans with his character driven play with 2 goals and 1 assist while elevating his game to a whole new level.  

Strobel scored the game-winning goal in overtime the evening before, topping the St. Thomas Academy Cadets 3-2.  He finished the tournament with a (4g-2a-6pt) in three games as his team handled the highly regarded Moorhead Spuds 5-1 in the quarterfinal round game.  It was clear that the Pioneers were on a mission and executed what their longtime and successful Head Coach BIll Lechner and his staff were looking for.  

There were three Pioneers and six Eagles on the ice that had committed to play Division I college hockey for the championship game.  Strobel was not one of them that left many scratching their heads as arguably the tournament’s best player turned it up a notch each day of the tournament.  They pounced on Eden Prairie with a power play goal by Matthew Fleischhacker for the 1-0 first period lead.  

The second period was seized by the Pioneers as they picked up goals by Owen Quast and Strobel’s first of the game. A 3-0 lead was too much for the Eagles to overcome against a team that had allowed two goals against or less 23 times entering the championship game.  That defensive brand was a testament to the Pioneers commitment to all three zones and when that rarely faltered, goalie Remington Keopple was a rock in goal for his team making 21 saves to preserve the victory.  

“They played like they wanted it more,” said Eden Prairie Assistant coach Paul Ranheim.  He attended the post game press conference for head coach Lee Smith who was light headed after the game with high blood pressure.  “Their legs were moving and we got behind. We chased and chased but couldn’t find our momentum.”

Strobel was the clear leader of his team all year and played the game as though he was not showcasing his talents for him  rather, he played  for his team.  Strobel  played the body with purpose, defended all three zones, took away the opposing teams top players and was willing to pay the price in battles to advance his team's cause.  He came in waves and proved difficult to stop, refusing to be denied.  Strobel wore the Pioneers sweater with pride and made many old-school fans proud of his approach.  

About three days later, Strobel became the 7th player that was on that championship ice to commit to play Division I college hockey.  He said yes to the University of Minnesota and proved that a player does not need to commit as an 8th grader to get to where he wants to go. 

“They were sustaining pressure on us,” Ranheim said. “They were strong and simple.”  

That summed up Strobel’s game as well. 

MNHockey.Tv concludes successful season

The MNHockey.Tv produced and live streamed 148 boys and girls hockey games this past season.  It was the most that the team produced under different auspices since 2006.  From the days of to today, there have been thousands of games streamed by our team that has now found its groove with youth hockey and automation for the most productive winter on record. 

A total of 120 youth games were produced and streamed live by our production teams this year including select Minnesota Hockey regional playoff games.  Our team will bring a large number of youth and high school games with plenty more available on our automated systems that will continue to be installed in Arena’s around the state.  Currently, the MNHockey.Tv has automated cameras installed at the Hopkins Pavilion, New Hope Ice Arena, Pagel Activity Center, Plymouth Ice Center, Roseau Memorial Arena, Roseau North, Roseau Ram Center, and the St. Louis Park Rec Center.