One of the greatest moments of any state tournament is the excitement of a first-time participant. Breaking through that first time -- no matter the outcome once there -- is something a program experiences just once. this year, Marshall gets that honor.
"It's unbelievable for our seniors," said coach Dave Coudert after the Tigers beat Hutchinson in overtime in the Section 3A final to advance to the Class 1A tournament.
"I had them as bantams and to watch them grow up as high school players...it's great to see them go out like this," said Coudert, who is in his first year after coaching three years in the bantam program in Marshall.
Coudert is certainly realistic about what awaits the Tigers when they get to St. Paul on Wednesday. After the section championship game, he wanted to just soak in the moment and not worry about tomorrow, for as he said, "knowing what our draw may be, we're just going to sit back on the bus and enjoy it right now."
As its coach predicted, Marshall (14-10-1) pulled second-seeded Breck (24-3-1) in the state quarterfinals at 11 a.m., Wednesday, March 6.
-- Tim Kolehmainen
FORWARDS: Up front, Marshall is a senior-laden group with plenty of experience, albeit not one familiar with hockey in March. The line of Quinn Horvath, Beau Mikel and Corey Clark has been anchoring the team's offense all season. They've combined for 48 of the team's 84 goals. Senior Leo Zerr also can bury the puck, while junior Alex Buysse netted the game-winner in overtime of the section championship against Hutchinson.
DEFENSE: The tigers' defensive corps is a stay-at-home group in general, shutting down opposing teams in their own zone and letting the forwards work their offensive magic. Seniors Adam McVey and Austin Leek, junior Brett Haukom and sophomores Levi Hedman and Casper Larsen work the blue line.
GOALTENDING: Throughout the Section 3A playoffs, the Tigers' strength was with junior Mason Campion. He was huge in leading Marshall to an upset over top-seeded Luverne in the semifinals and made 32 saves in the section final. In three section games, he stopped 95.2 percent of the shots he faced -- and will have to do the same for the Tigers at state.
In his first season as head coach at Marshall, Coudert has taken the program where it hasn't been before -- the Class 1A state tournament. Coudert moved up from coaching the town's bantam a program the previous three seasons, so he was familiar with many of the key players on this year's team. He also has coached for the Reebok Minnesota High Performance 15s team and in the Minnesota United AAA program. Coudert moved to Marshall from Omaha, Neb., four years ago.
The Tigers don't get a pass in their first state tournament, as their quarterfinal opponent is powerful Breck. Realistically, it will be tough for the first-time program to beat the Mustangs, but if they do, goalie Mason Campion must have a huge game.
2012-13 Record: 14-10-1
State trips: 2013
Coach: Dave Coudert
Assistants: Scott Mellenthin, Aaron Schroeder, Michael Weiss
Home arena: Lyon County Ice Arena, Marshall
Last season: Lost to Luverne in Section 3A semifinals, 4-3