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East Grand Forks boys hockey team goes to state tournament with high hopes

East Grand Forks assistant hockey coach Scott Oliver waits for Green Wave players including Taylor Brierly and Reed Hjelle carrying a cooler to board the bus as the team heads to St. Paul for the state hockey tournament . photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald1 / 2
East Grand Forks Green Wave coach Tyler Palmiscno and his players gather with students and supporters at the high school Tuesday morning for a send-off as they head to St. Paul for the state high school hockey tournament. They play their opening round game Wednesday. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald2 / 2

East Grand Forks Senior High has high standards for throwing a postseason pep rally.

“You have to get to state to get one,” Superintendent David Pace said.

Despite that lofty measurement, Senior High held its second rally in two weeks on Tuesday. Following the lead of the Green Wave’s girls hockey team 14 days earlier, the boys hockey team was ushered off to the state tournament in St. Paul after a 16-minute program in the school’s gym.

 “The girls got everybody going and, now, here we go again,” Athletic Director Jim Scanlan said.

The Green Wave girls were seeded No. 1 in the tournament and finished second to the Blake School, falling 3-2 in the championship.

The Green Wave boys also have the top seed in Class A, but player Tanner Tweten doesn’t see the expectations that go with the ranking as a burden.

“It’s a good thing,” Tweten said. “Yeah, there’s more pressure, but pressure is always a good thing.”

Approximately 80 student fans will make the round trip to the tournament on school buses today. Scanlan said he anticipates the number of students on buses will increase to about 120 if the Green Wave advance to Friday’s semifinals. School buses will not be available on Saturday.

The team is healthy for its tournament opener at 6:19 p.m. today at the St. Paul Civic Center, but not all of the parents are. Dawn Bowen, mother of player Dixon Bowen, was on crutches after recently suffering a broken foot while playing the role of hockey mom.

“I broke it when I was running in the snow from a hockey arena while I was on the phone,” she said, laughing. “I still can’t put any pressure on my foot, but I’ve had two weeks to work on using my crutches.”

Despite her personal setback, she maintained the pep rally’s optimistic and hopeful tone about the team.

“They’re such a good group of boys,” she said. “They’ve had success all the way up.”

Seniors are impressed

Other than a generic “Good Luck Green Wave” sign on the Glitz, Glam & Tan salon on Central Avenue and an orange “Go Wave” on under-construction apartment buildings on DeMers Avnue downtown, there aren’t many visible reminders of the hockey team’s pursuit of a state title.

But, over morning coffee at the East Grand Forks McDonald’s, local retirees who can be tough critics are lauding the accomplishments of the 25-2-1 Green Wave.

Leading the way is Bobby LaVoie, a former math teacher and football assistant coach at Senior High. “There’s a very good chance of them being No. 1,” he said.

Dan Rolczynski has a similar optimistic view: “I think the boys should go all the way. They’re even better than they were last year” when they placed fourth in the state.

 Six days a week, starting at 9 a.m., the seniors’ coffee hour often turns into two hours. They’re usually not overly generous with praise, but are struck with the recent wide range of athletic success, boys and girls, at Senior High.

“It’s been a very, very good year to watch sports on the East Side,” LaVoie said. “For a community this size, to have both basketball and hockey as good as they are, we’re blessed.

“And my wife works at the Hugo’s deli and she says these are the most polite kids on Earth.”