Wild coach Mike Yeo watches hockey at least 41 nights a season inside the Xcel Energy Center. Unfortunately, Thursday was not one of those nights.
Yeo coached the Wild to a victory at Washington at the same time his son, Kyler, played for Hill-Murray in his first state tournament.
Yeo, a sophomore forward, was on the ice for the Pioneers’ lone goal in a 4-1 loss to Lakeville North in the first evening quarterfinal.
“Not knowing before I got here what the state tournament was, and then having the opportunity to take it in the last several years, I know that it’s something my kid and all those kids have been dreaming about,” Yeo said earlier this week. “These are the things that are tough to miss as a parent, for sure.”
Yeo, who also missed last week’s Section 4 championship game, joked, “Maybe I’ll take my cellphone on the bench” for updates during the Capitals game.
Rally falls short
Bemidji’s current crop of players hadn’t yet been born when large and legendary Lumberjacks star George Pelawa was pounding opponents into submission during the 1986 state tournament at the old St. Paul Civic Center.
“We haven’t even seen a team come down here from Bemidji, so it is kind of a first,” Bemidji senior defenseman Michael Forseth said after the Lumberjacks ended their 29-year state tournament drought with a 6-4 loss to two-time defending Class 2A state champion Edina.
Bemidji trailed 5-2 with 2:07 left when goals by Jack Johnson and Josh Lusby made it a one-goal game with less than a minute remaining as the decidedly pro-Lumberjacks crowd roared its approval.
“At the end there, when the crowd erupted, it was pretty loud,” Forseth said.
Millen makes return
Thursday saw the tournament return of Corey Millen, his first appearance in 33 years. This time, no crutches were needed.
Millen scored 46 goals in 18 games as a senior, propelling Cloquet toward its first state tournament in 1982. A broken ankle, however, made him the most significant nonparticipant in tourney history.
“It’s one of those moments I haven’t pondered too long,” he said. “I went to the University of Minnesota and later played in the NHL so I was fortunate to have some good hockey things happen after that.”
Millen moved back to Cloquet last year to coach the Minnesota Wilderness of the North American Hockey League. Purists might question Millen, a product of the community hockey model, for coaching in a league some prep players choose to join in lieu of their local high school.
“I haven’t heard a lot of backlash,” he said. “The NAHL is a great league to become a better player.”
Star Tribune staff writer Michael Russo contributed to this report.