Day three of the boys state hockey tournament opened the way it closed; with a thrilling overtime game concluding with a goal that instantly punched one team’s ticket to a Saturday state championship game at Xcel Energy Center.
But the similarities stopped there.
Mahtomedi and Hermantown got the Friday, March 12, Class A semifinals off to a roaring start in a high-flying, back-and-forth affair which saw the Hawks and Zephyrs trading goals for three periods only to be deadlocked at 6-6 with time winding down in regulation.
With players, coaches, and spectators preparing themselves for bonus hockey, Mahtomedi’s Charlie Adams beat Hermantown goaltender Tyler Ampe as time expired in the third period.
Bedlam ensued in the stands and on the ice as the exuberant Zephyrs rejoiced in reaching a hockey state championship game for the first time ever.
The bliss was short-lived, however, as video replay confirmed — much to the horror of the Zephyrs and their fans — that Adams’ shot crossed the goal line a fraction of a second after the clock read zeroes across the board.
The verdict swung the emotional pendulum 180 degree throughout the arena, the Hawks’ despair swapped for Mahtomedi’s joy.
It was too much for the Zephyrs to overcome mentally as the rejuvenated Hawks jumped all over the still-stunned Zephyrs to begin overtime. Just 1:12 into the extra session, Hermantown sophomore forward Jared Thomas tucked the puck around and behind Mahtomedi goaltender Brad Wohlers, giving the Hawks the what-once-seemed-improbable 7-6 win and a championship date with Breck.
As the late-game dramatics unfolded, Minnetonka coach Brian Urick was paying close attention. He took note of the effect the disallowed goal had on each team.
As much as Hermantown and Mahtomedi put on a goal-scoring show, Minnetonka and Hill Murray spent most of their game’s first 51 minutes bobbing and weaving their way to a 1-1 tie and the end of regulation.
Early in the second overtime, Minnetonka’s Connor Ryan appeared to score the game-winning goal off his left skate. Even as Ryan was being mobbed by some of his teammates, it was clear Minnetonka was preparing for the goal to be overruled.
A glance at the Skipppers’ bench revealed a calm, collected group, a reflection of their coach who drew upon what he had seen unfold earlier in the day.
“It kind of helped watching that Mahtomedi game today. I got a real quick lesson,” admitted Urick. “I pulled the guys over to the bench and said, ‘Hey, this goal’s not gonna count. Keep going. Don’t have that emotional letdown when they disallow it.’”
The Skippers listened. The goal was disallowed after video review and both teams forged ahead from there to nearly break a 14-year-old record.
With the teams approaching Duluth East and Apple Valley’s 1996 state record 93:12 mark for elapsed time, Minnetonka sophomore Erik Baskin beat Hill-Murray goaltender Tim Shaughnessy from post to post, stuffing home the game winner at 2 minutes, 31 seconds of the fourth overtime; 6 minutes, 41 seconds away from making history.
Two great games to start and end the day. And one lesson learned along the way.