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By Star Tribune, 03/10/13, 12:57AM CST


State tournament notes: St. Thomas Academy's Jack Dougherty hits better button

Hermantown players knelt on the ice after receiving their second place medals. St. Thomas Academy beat Hermantown 5-4. Photo by ] CARLOS GONZALEZ, cgonzalez@startribune.com

As Jack Dougherty returned to St. Thomas Academy last fall and skated in front of coaches. they wondered, “Is that Jack?”

Last year’s sixth defenseman enjoyed his team winning a Class 1A state championship, but he went into the offseason searching for much more. Dougherty’s spring and summer included national and international success that landed him on the U.S. Under-17 Select Team.

“I think they were kind of surprised,” Dougherty said. “Last year I mostly sat on the bench and stayed positive for my team and kept them motivated.”

On Saturday he was selected to the Class 1A all-tournament team and helped cool down Hermantown’s offense in the third period.

Senior defenseman Wyatt Schmidt remembers when Dougherty used to look up to him. Now it’s the other way around. Schmidt couldn’t believe the junior’s huge offseason and wondered how he could have the same success.

“If he pressed some button, I want to press that to get better,” Schmidt said. “He just said he went 110 percent while others were going through the motions.”

Co-head coach Greg Vannelli is amazed at Dougherty’s growth. He said he’s gone from his last defenseman to one of the top three in the state.

Alter egos

Super Mario, a Gingerbread Man, Leprechauns and some of the Angry Birds flock have been missing from Hill-Murray’s fan base this week. The usual characters have been busy on the other side of the glass.

Underneath these costumes were seniors Zach LaValle, Ryan Black and many other teammates on the boys’ hockey team.

The group of fictitious characters were in the middle of the Pioneers’ student section for the girls’ hockey state tournament.

“It was a blast. We’re so proud of the girls,” LaValle said.

The captain said he didn’t using any of Mario’s strengthening mushrooms in the tournament, but joked that he and Black were throwing bananas (Donkey Kong) behind them on the ice.

1988 champs reunite

The 1988 state championship Edina team got a chance to experience another Hornets title. TCF Bank invites a former state champion to reunite in its Xcel Energy Center suite for championship game night.

Most of the ’88 team — 26 players and coaches — attended the reunion, which fittingly included an Edina-Hill-Murray finale. The 1988 Hornets defeated the Pioneers 5-3 to win their title.

Good leg

St. Thomas Academy defenseman Wyatt Schmidt added a new state championship medal to go with the football trophy awarded to him for being the nation’s best placekicker. He traveled to Los Angeles in December to receive the award.

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