Hill-Murray beat rival White Bear Lake 1-0 to win the Section 4AA final and earn a trip to the state tournament. Photo by Brian Nelson
White Bear Lake and Hill-Murray.
One of the state’s great rivalries.
Public versus private.
David versus Goliath.
These teams do not like each other. Not one bit.
Which isn’t to say there can’t be a mutual respect. Or even a friendship or two that crosses enemy lines.
Such is the case with Hill-Murray’s Davis Zarembinski and White Bear Lake’s Chase Gorman.
Zarembinski grew up playing hockey in the White Bear Lake youth system.
“I used to play for White Bear, I know all of them,” Zarembinski said about the Bears. “They are all my buddies. We hang out and have a good time.
“It’s just an unbelievable feeling to get that goal.”
Ah yes, that goal.
Zarembinski’s floater from the point got past a screened Gorman with 7 minutes, 28 seconds left in the third period. It was the lone goal in No. 1-ranked Hill-Murray’s Section 4AA championship victory over the unranked Bears on Friday, March 1, in front of an announced crowd of 7,107 at a packed State Fairgrounds Coliseum in St. Paul.
While a 1-0 final score seemed a bit unlikely for this matchup, given that top-seeded Hill-Murray routed No. 2 seed White Bear Lake 6-1 in the regular season, the notion of Zarembinski scoring the lone goal wouldn’t have crossed anyone’s mind before the matchup.
The sophomore defenseman went scoreless in 25 regular season games before scoring twice in a 12-1 rout of St. Paul Como Park in the section quarterfinals.
Dan Dolan, a senior defenseman with one goal and five assists in his previous 27 games, was credited with an assist on the goal.
“Zarembinski from Dolan?” Hill-Murray goaltender John Dugas said. “I wouldn’t have guessed that in a million years. But that’s how it happens sometimes, and I’m really happy for him.”
White Bear Lake junior Chase Gorman made 39 saves in the Bears' 1-0 loss to Hill-Murray. Photo by Brian Nelson
Gorman was playing on the junior varsity when the Bears lost to Hill-Murray during the regular season. He worked his way up to the varsity and quickly cemented his spot there with a shutout win over East Ridge and a 6-1 triumph over Stillwater in his first two starts.
Gorman finished with 39 saves against the Pioneers, who ratcheted up the intensity little by little as the game wore on.
“He played unbelievable today,” Zarembinski said. “I can’t even describe how good he played.”
Zarembinski’s lifelong friendship with White Bear Lake players extends deeper with Zarembinski.
“Pee Wees, Bantams, summer, we’ve played so much together, we are so close,” Zarembinski said. “We’re almost like brothers.”
Gorman said he only saw the shot at the last second. Too late to do anything with it.
“I guess I wasn’t quick enough,” Gorman said. “It hurts so bad, but if I guess if we were going to lose to anyone it should be to the No. 1 team in the state.”
Hill-Murray coach Bill Lechner, who can find a teaching moment in most any situation, said there’s a lesson in Zarembinski being the only one to score.
“It’s not always the stars, its not always the first line,” Lechner said. “Everybody needs to compete because good things happen.”
Good for Zarembinski and the Pioneers, bitterly disappointing for Gorman and the Bears.
Rembember, these teams do not like each other. Not at all.
“In some ways I want them to lose and go down because I hate their guts,” Gorman said. “But at the same time (Zarembinski) is my best friend and I want to see him win the tourney.”
Hill-Murray's Colten Greeder has an open shot but is denied by White Bear Lake goalie Chase Gorman. Photo by Brian Nelson
Top-seeded Hill-Murray dispatched its playoffs rivals from White Bear Lake with a 1-0 victory in the Section 4AA championship game Friday night at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum in St. Paul.
Sophomore Davis Zarembinski scored the game’s lone goal at 9:32 of the third period. The goal was Zarembinski's third of the season. He did not score during the regular season and had two goals in a 12-1 sectional quarterfinal victory over St. Paul Como Park.
Hill-Murray, which outshot the No. 2-seeded Bears 40-15, returns to the state tournament after losing in the championship game to Benilde-St. Margaret’s last season.
Friday gave No. 1-ranked Hill-Murray (25-2-1) a 7-1-0 advantage in the teams’ last eight section final showdowns.
White Bear Lake (17-10-1) tightened up defensively after losing to the Pioneers 6-1 earlier this season.
-- David La Vaque, Star Tribune staff writer
1. Davis Zarembinski, Hill-Murray
Score the only goal of a section championship game, you get the No. 1 star. Not a hard and fast rule, but a strong guideline. The sophomore defenseman, who went scoreless in the regular season, wristed a shot from the blue line that floated through traffic and past White Bear Lake goaltender with 7:28 remaining. In a strange twist of fate, it turns out Zarembinski, who grew up playing his youth hockey in White Bear Lake, and Gorman are best buddies.
2. Chase Gorman, White Bear Lake
A junior goaltender, Gorman who wasn’t even playing on the Bears’ varsity when White Bear Lake lost to Hill-Murray during the regular season. Despite his inexperience -- he played at the Bantam level last season -- Gorman wasn’t phased by the raucous atmosphere generated by more than 7,000 fans. He made 39 saves and was screened on the one goal he allowed to his best buddy (see above).
3. John Dugas, Hill-Murray
A shutout in a section championship game is star-worthy to be sure, even if Dugas was tested infrequently. He made 17 saves but had to be razor sharp on a half-dozen quality White Bear Lake chances.
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor