For all the heroics Adam Johnson produced Friday in the Class 1A semifinals, he came up a half-foot short in the end.
Johnson netted a natural hat trick for Hibbing/Chisholm. He scored twice in the final minute of the second period, then added another goal 2 minutes, 34 seconds into the third to tie the score 4-4 against Hermantown.
Even after the Bluejackets fell behind 5-4, Johnson nearly pulled off more magic. His play in front of the Hermantown net led to an interference call on Hawks leading scorer Garrett Skrbich with 1:32 to go. However, Johnson couldn’t keep Jared Kolquist’s clinching empty-netter from crossing the goal line with 49.4 seconds remaining.
Johnson used every last ounce of his effort to catch up to the puck — which he tipped with his glove on the opposite blue line when Kolquist lobbed it toward the goal — but ran out of room.
“I thought I could get there,” the sophomore forward said. “It was moving a little faster than I thought. It sucks to fall short and lose that game.”
Johnson’s goals, which give him 42 for the season heading into Saturday’s third-place game against Thief River Falls, nearly salvaged the game for the Bluejackets. He clearly had the hot hand of the day, and Hermantown coach Bruce Plante wasn’t comfortable having to watch Johnson nearly catch up to the puck in the waning moments.
“He should be playing for UMD right now,” Plante said. “[Boy], is he good. You let him loose like that, and he’ll beat you every time. He’s an unbelievable player; as good a player as we’ve seen this year. A hell of a player.”
Perhaps. But in this one, just not quite enough.
“It kind of gave us a spark,” Hibbing/Chisholm coach Mark DeCenzo said. “It got us back in the game and us thinking, 'Gee, maybe we can win this.’”