BOYS HOCKEY: Senior High wins opener in state hockey tournament
ST. PAUL — Orono, East Grand Forks Senior High’s first round opponent at the Minnesota state Class A boys hockey tournament, came to the Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday with a huge fan following that dwarfed the Green Wave contingent.
They just didn’t have much to cheer about.
The No. 1 Wave used a three-goal first period to coast to a 5-1 win over Orono in the state quarterfinals.
Senior High (26-2-1) advances to the semifinals for the second straight year. The Wave, who are searching for the program’s first state title, will play St. Cloud Cathedral or Totino-Grace at 2 p.m. Friday.
“We came out with energy right away,” said Senior High coach Tyler Palmiscno, whose team finished fourth at state last season. “We did the things we wanted to do ... we got pucks in deep and won foot races and battles.”
The Wave won their 18th straight game, a winning streak that covers all of 2014. Senior High’s last defeat was Dec. 27, a 2-0 setback to Notre Dame Academy of Wisconsin.
Orono, who upset Breck in the Section 2 title game to reach state, was playing in its first state tournament since 2007.
“Welcome to the state tournament for this group,” said Orono coach Kasey Yoder, whose team dropped to 19-9-1. “Our guys tried, but we played a really good team. They won every battle. It was a good eye opener for our guys to see where we hope to get to at some point.”
Senior High’s Reed Corbid started the first-period flurry with a rebound goal off a Jace Pesch shot at 2 minutes, 18 seconds of the opening period.
“That goal got everyone going,” Senior High forward Tanner Tweten said. “Everyone was pumped up before the game, and I think it helped to get the first one.”
Tweten, a physical sophomore, bumped the lead to 3-0 with goals at 6:30 and 15:15 of the first period. Senior High outshot Orono 16-5 in the first period.
Tweten and linemate Grant Loven (two assists) led Senior High with a plus-three rating. Tweten had a team-high six shots on goal.
Tweten, Loven and linemate Dixon Bowen (goal, assist) were a handful for the Spartans.
“They create opportunities,” Palmiscno said. “They do it in different ways. Tanner is a big body, and he creates his own space and space for others. Dixon is explosive through the middle of the ice and Loven seems like he’s everywhere.”
Senior High’s physicality was a factor throughout.
“We expected the northern Minnesota style,” Yoder said. “What’s a surprise is that we’re usually a physical team. You wouldn’t have guessed it out there. But they have some big, strong kids and they out-muscled us all over the ice.”
The Spartans made things interesting momentarily in the second period when David McCuskey took advantage of a Senior High turnover to pull within 3-1.
“You knew they were coming,” Palmiscno said. “You knew there was going to be push back.”
But the Wave regrouped in the third period. Nick Ranten, a senior forward, pushed the lead back to three when he intercepted an Orono pass in the Spartans’ zone and quickly sniped a shot past goalie Jon Flakne (24 saves) at 3:42 of the third period.
Bowen, a junior, rounded out the scoring with a power-play goal late in the period after impressive puck movement with Colton Poolman (three assists) and Eddie Eades.
“We made it a game there for a little bit,” Yoder said. “But give them credit. That was their hockey game.”