BOYS HOCKEY: Senior High reaches Class A championship game
ST. PAUL — The East Grand Forks Senior High boys hockey team will have much better memories of this Minnesota state Class A semifinals.
Last season, the Green Wave were blown out in the semifinals by St. Thomas Academy.
On Friday, Senior High made that a distant memory by solidifying its first trip to the state championship game since 1999.
Senior High sophomore Tanner Tweten scored early in the third period to lift the Green Wave to a 2-1 win over St. Cloud Cathedral at the Xcel Energy Center.
“We’re a lot different than last year,” Senior High senior defenseman Eddie Eades said. “We’ve grown a lot, both with our play and our maturity. This means a lot. It’s what we’ve worked for through all our years of youth hockey.”
No. 1 seed Senior High, which improved to 27-2-1, will play No. 2 seed Hermantown in the championship game at noon today.
Senior High is in search of the program’s first state championship.
The Green Wave locked up that opportunity at 4:19 of the third period thanks to Tweten’s third goal of the tournament.
Dixon Bowen started the play by forcing a turnover in the EGF end. He sent a breakout pass to Grant Loven, who went in on a 2-on-1 opportunity with Tweten.
“We had a good rush, and I chipped it up to Grant,” Bowen said. “He went down and made a great play to Tweety, and he finished it off to give us some momentum.”
St. Cloud Cathedral pulled its goalie with 40 seconds left. The Wave iced the puck twice and Tweten and Eades blocked shots in the final moments.
“We gave East Grand a heck of a game, and they’re a fantastic hockey team,” Cathedral coach Eric Johnson said.
Although Senior High outshot Cathedral 36-22, the Wave were in a tight hockey game after the teams traded goals in the first two periods. Senior High defenseman Colton Poolman scored at 2:36 of the first period, while Cathedral’s Erik Gadbois tied the score at 12:57 of the second period.
“They did a good job keeping us to the outside,” Senior High coach Tyler Palmiscno said. “We didn’t get a lot of quality looks from the inner area of the offensive zone.”
But the Senior High defense was even stingier.
Johnson praised the play of the Wave’s top four defenders — Eades, Poolman, Tye Ausmus and Taylor Brierley.
“They have four really, really good defensemen,” Johnson said. “They don’t get much better than the four they throw out there. There’s not many better all-around players than that Poolman kid. He’s a tough kid. They’re very good hockey players.”
The state title game will be a matchup of contrasting championship experience. Hermantown will be playing in its fifth straight state title. Hermantown has four straight runner-up finishes.
“They’re very familiar with this game,” Palmiscno said. “They’re very well-coached. They compete. They make plays. I expect a battle.”
Poolman, who had a team-high eight shots on goal against Cathedral, agrees.
“Obviously, Hermantown is a very good team,” Poolman said. “I know they work hard and compete. Hopefully, it’ll be a good game.”