Bloomington Jefferson junior forward Colin Hernon (No. 25) earns the hat trick, beating Chanhassen goaltender Harlin Paradise (No. 33) in the third period. Photo by Jon Laqua
Twenty years ago, Bloomington Jefferson was steamrolling competition on its way to back-to-back-to-back state titles in 1992 (Tier I), 1993 (Tier I) and 1994 (Class AA).
But times have changed and the Jaguars’ 0-8-2 start to the 2011-2012 season left some traditional high school hockey fans scratching their heads.
After Jefferson finished the regular season with a 6-16-3 record, questions of logic were raised when the Jaguars received the fourth seed in the section 2AA playoffs over No. 5-seeded Chanhassen -- who capped off a 20-4-1 season by clinching its first Missota Conference title.
With a decisive 6-1 victory on Thursday, Feb. 23, over the Storm in the Section 2AA quarterfinals, Jefferson seems to have answered those questions and more.
“There was word going around that it was supposed to be a really close game and we just took that and used it as motivation,” Jaguars’ junior forward Colin Hernon said. “Everything was clicking today. We were getting pucks on the net, we weren't allowing many shots, our third line was burying a lot of goals and we were producing.
“Everything was going our way.”
Hernon was quick to note that the change of fortune from earlier in the year was a welcomed one.
“Most of the season we hadn't been getting a lot of bounces,” Hernon said. “We haven't had a very successful season but today it definitely went our way.”
Perhaps a no truer of a statement for Hernon who scored a hat trick in the section playoff win.
“He's been our leading goal scorer all season,” Jefferson coach Jeff Lindquist said about Hernon. “He's the type of kid that gets around the net and finishes the job. He kept going hard and good things happen for people who work.”
Helping the offensive production from Hernon was a high-intensity gameplan for the Jaguars.
“One of our goals was to keep the tempo as fast as we could,” Lindquist said. “Run quick, hard shifts. Our kids not only did that but then they put some in the net and that helps.”
With a quarterfinal victory, any discussion of where Jefferson should have been seeded seems to have faded away but Lindquist pointed out the more important things than bracket positioning.
“As far as the seeds go, I would have understood if we had gotten the fifth seed and I'd have been just fine with that,” Lindquist said. “But the schedule we play says a lot. We had a lot of quality games against very good teams in the top ten and I think that spoke out a little higher than wins.
“The pace that we had to play during the season to be competitive was frantic. We had to be physical and we had to move the puck and we had to play hard otherwise we got beat. I do think that helped us prepare for where we are now.”
The Jaguars won’t have long to celebrate the quarterfinal victory as they will refocus their attention on the semifinal matchup with top-seeded Edina on Saturday, Feb. 25.
“We were going to play the way we have been lately,” Lindquist said. “Very aggressive and try to move the puck and make the game very fast for whoever we play.”
Understanding the higher level of difficulty, Jefferson knows it will need its best performance of the season to upset the Hornets.
“They're a really skilled team,” Hernon said of Edina. “It's going to take some hard work, it's going to take giving 100 percent on the ice because we're going to have to get things to go our way. Hopefully we just get the puck on the net and just bury some garbage goals.
“Biggest game of the year by far.”
A loose puck trickles through Chanhassen goaltender Harlin Paradise (No. 33) during the first period against Bloomington Jefferson on Thursday, Feb. 23. Photo by Jon Laqua
After a Section 2AA quarterfinal loss against Bloomington Jefferson that saw high emotion as well as high intensity, Chanhassen coach Chris Wilson took a moment to speak with the MN Hockey Hub on the game, the Jaguars, the season and looking ahead to next year.
Question: A tough loss that just seemed to slip away from the very beginning. What were your thoughts on the game?
Answer: Yikes. The pace of the game in the first five minutes of the first (period), first five minutes of the second (period) threw us off. I looked at the clock and all of a sudden it's 5-1. We knew we had to withstand the pressure early -- just with our schedule, we don't see that speed -- and we didn't. Couple shots went in that should have gone in but I thought in the second and the third, we competed.
Q: There was discussion about who was more deserving of the No. 4 seed in the section playoffs. Obviously it ended up with Jefferson. What did you see out of the Jaguars?
A: We’ve seen them play probably about a dozen times between the coaches and they make the passes and make the plays. Our guys saw this team play -- At one point they were 0-8 and they said it's the best 0-8 team in the history of Minnesota hockey. There's a reason he's (Jefferson coach Jeff Lindquist) got (so many) career wins. He's a good coach. His teams are very smart. Jeff has been good enough to play us next year during the regular season which will help us and get us more credibility plus we need more games like this. We're playing Hermantown again, Theif River (Falls) so we're increasing the strength of schedule and that's what we need. There's a reason we're 20-4-1 and it wasn't because we were unbelievable. It was, to a certain extent, the level of competition.
Q: Any final thoughts on your team’s year?
A: It's a heck of a senior season. I'm disappointed in how we finished it. It's always tough with a big senior group like that. But at the end of the day, they battled all season.
Bloomington Jefferson's Johnny Panvica (No. 12) and Chanhassen's Eric Bigaouette (No. 16) stay focused on the puck during the Section 2AA quartefinal game on Thursday, Feb. 23. Photo by Jon Laqua
A four-goal first period was more than enough for No. 4 Bloomington Jefferson as the Jaguars defeated No. 5 Chanhassen, 6-1, in the Section 2AA quarterfinals on Thursday, Feb. 23.
Colin Hernon, Johnny Panvica, Tyler Johnson and Jack Weiss scored for the Jaguars putting the game out of reach early.
Hernon would later add a goal in both the second and third period to collect his third hat trick of the season.
Charlie Bach and Johnson had two points each and six additional Jaguars registered a point in the victory.
Jefferson goaltender Grant Martens made 18 saves only allowing a goal to Chanhassen's Eric Bigaouette in the first period.
Despite 25 penalty minutes by Chanhassen -- including a five-minute cross checking major on Nate Traina -- the Jaguars only managed to score once on their five powerplay opportunities. Several coincidental minors were assessed as emotions ran high throughout the game.
Ten of those 25 penalty minutes were for a game misconduct at the end of the third period called on Chanhassen senior defenseman Nathan Holasek. As both teams were lined up for the postgame handshake, Holasek while being escorted off the ice made contact with the official -- pushing the official in retaliation. No one was injured and no subsequent altercation ensued.
Starting goaltender Erik Anderson had a tough night in goal for the Storm and was replaced by Harlin Paradise with 12 minutes, 12 seconds remaining in the first after Anderson had surrendered Jefferson's second goal. Paradise finished with 48 saves.
Champions of the Missota Conference, Chanhassen finishes the season with a 20-5-1 record.
With the victory, Jefferson (7-16-3) advances to the Section 2AA semifinals where the Jaguars will face top-seeded Edina on Saturday, Feb. 25. Game time and location have not yet been determined.
1. Colin Hernon, Bloomington Jefferson
Though it may not have been the prettiest goal, Hernon scored exactly one minute into the first period which set a relentless Jefferson tone for the remainder of the game. The junior forward scored once in each period for his third hat trick of the season and powered the Jaguars' offense.
2. Charlie Bach, Bloomington Jefferson
While he didn't start the game, Bach made an immediate impact with two assists in the first period. Setting up his teammates and playing his part defensively, Bach was a large contributing factor to the Jaguars' victory.
3. Ian Janco, Bloomington Jefferson
Janco won't find his name too often on the game's scoresheet but as a defenseman that's not a terrible thing as long as you're doing your job. And the senior did just that. Powering the defense and tenacious on the forecheck, Janco was a major reason why Jefferson shut down Chanhassen leading scorer Connor Kelly. Janco also had an asset and staying out off the penalty box in the emotion-heavy playoff game.