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Hermantown overcomes Duluth Denfeld's strong goaltending to return to 1A state tournament

By Louie St. George, SportsEngine, 02/24/20, 4:30PM CST


The Hawks were stifled by Hunters goaltender Shawn Easty for the first two periods, but they broke through in the third with five goals to secure the shutout victory.

Duluth Denfeld goaltender Shawn Easty makes a save on the backhand attempt of Hermantown's Cole Antcliff during Wednesday night's Section 7A championship game at Amsoil Arena. Photo by Dave Harwig, SportsEngine

DULUTH — One of the top hockey players in the State of Hockey, Blake Biondi could have left Hermantown early and spent his senior season elsewhere.

A Mr. Hockey hopeful who is committed to two-time defending national champion Minnesota Duluth, the senior forward wasn’t interested in bailing on the Hawks. A year after Hermantown was stunned in the Class 1A, Section 7 championship, he and his teammates had unfinished business.

They took a step in the right direction Wednesday night at Amsoil Arena, where Biondi and the Hawks rode a decisive, five-goal third period to fend off Duluth Denfeld 6-0 and reclaim their spot atop this section, which they had a stranglehold on for so long until being upset by Greenway in 2019.

“This is the reason I came back,” Biondi said. “I wanted to win a state championship, and we got three more to go.”

Hermantown goaltender Jacob Backstrom makes a save on Duluth Denfeld's Connor McClure during Wednesday night's Section 7A championship game at Amsoil Arena. Photo by Dave Harwig, SportsEngine

First Report

DULUTH — After struggling to solve veteran Duluth Denfeld goalie Shawn Easty for the first 34 minutes of Wednesday night’s Class 1A, Section 7 championship game at a nearly full Amsoil Arena, Hermantown held a lamp-lighting party to start the third period en route to a 6-0 win.

The top-seeded Hawks, ranked No. 2 in the Class 1A coaches’ poll, scored four times in the opening 6:30 of the final stanza to blow this one open. Aydyn Dowd scored on a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle at the 2:04 mark and Zach Kilen cleaned up a scrum 21 seconds later for his second of the night.

Mr. Hockey hopeful and Minnesota Duluth recruit Blake Biondi made it 4-0 at 3:59 of the period when he notched his 42nd goal of the season. He’d later tack on his 43rd.

Despite holding a slim 1-0 edge after two periods, Hermantown was dominant throughout. The Hawks (21-3-4) amassed a 20-2 advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone and finished with a staggering 50-10 lead. Easty, a senior, did all he could to give the second-seeded and Hunters (21-6-1) a chance.

But Hermantown’s superior depth eventually wore down Denfeld, which was seeking its first state tournament berth since appearing three times from 1986-89.

The Hawks, of course, have had a stranglehold on this section. They went to state nine years in a row from 2010-18, finishing runner-up the first six years before winning a pair of titles in 2016 and ’17. They bowed out in the semifinals in 2018 and were upset by Greenway in last season’s section title tilt.

The MN Hockey Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.

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