In the tie-breaker game between Virginia-MIB and Hibbing/Chisholm, the Bluejackets weren’t messing around. The two teams split the regular season series with Virginia winning 4-0 just two weeks ago, but Hibbing won the third game and when it counted. The Bluejackets shut the door and routed #1 Virginia 5-0 to make their first state appearance since 2004.
“Sometimes you look at a 5-0 game and it looks like a one-sided game but it wasn’t anything like that,” said Hibbing coach Mark DeCenzo. “We took advantage and made some big plays and Nate [Tromp] made some big saves. It could have been a 5-4 game either way.”
Hibbing scored the first goal of the game with 7:33 left in the second period and they never looked back. Adam Johnson scored from the bottom of the circle for the game-winner assisted on Nick DeCenzo’s power-play goal with just 1:13 left in the 2nd period.
“It feels great. To finally make it there after all these year it’s awesome,” Hibbing’s Adam Johnson said. “Now we’re going to practice hard up until Wednesday and just play hard as a team and have a great tournament.”
Nate Tromp played outstanding and it was evident he was the key to Hibbing’s win as he made many huge saves against Virginia’s top line, including Mr. Hockey finalist Garrett Hendrickson. Tromp had his veins pumping early as he made a stellar save on Hendrickson’s breakaway attempt only 30 seconds into the game.
“It feels great because we came here two years in a row and we just didn’t have it,” Hibbing goaltender Nate Tromp said. “Then in the third year we came out and gave it everything we had and got it.”
Virginia could easily have made a game out it in the third period but Hibbing thwarted all of their attempts and put a damper on any sort of a comeback by scoring just 1:14 into the third period to take a 3-0 lead. But Virginia gave it their all, outshooting Hibbing 32-22 and never backing down until the latter portion of the third when they were down five goals and it was easy to say they weren’t going to make a comeback.
“We won twenty games this year for the eighth year in a row, we got to the section finals three years in a row with two state tournaments with this group of seniors,” Virginia coach Keith Hendrickson said of his team’s accomplishments. “I’m really proud of what we’ve done in the last ten years or so. Hockey’s a funny game and sometimes the team that maybe has the better chances doesn’t win.”
This game marked the ninth year in a row for the Bluejackets making an appearance in the Section 7A final, when they beat International Falls 1-0 for their first of two state trips in a row. The following year they also upset Hermantown 3-2 in the section final game. That was the last time Hibbing made it state until this season – a seven year drought.
“They’re all fun and they’re all the same,” coach DeCenzo said of the state tournaments. “But to finally get there it’s a monkey off the back.”
1. Nate Tromp, Hibbing/Chisholm
Tromp played outstanding and was definitely the key to the Hibbing’s win. Tromp made many huge save including stopping Garrett Hendrickson on a breakaway just 30 seconds into the game. Tromp stopped all 32 shots he faced to give his team the shutout victory.
2. Adam Johnson, Hibbing/Chisholm
Johnson figured in on three of Hibbing’s five goals including scoring the game-winner with 7:33 left in the second period. Johnson also netted two assists to help seal the victory against the Blue Devils.
3. Nick DeCenzo, Hibbing/Chisholm
DeCenzo scored one goal and assisted on another en route to a 5-0 win over Virginia. DeCenzo assisted on the game-winning goal and then scored a power-play goal with just 1:13 left in the second period to give Hibbing the 2-0 lead.