Prep boys hockey: Hermantown defense comes through for state title win
For the second time this year, the Hawks edged the Warriors, this time for the Minnesota Class A championship.
ST. PAUL — After allowing an early goal, Hermantown’s defense bottled up the Warroad attackers and Zam Plante scored two second-period goals to give the Hawks a 3-2 win in the Minnesota Class A state championship game.
Defensemen Ty Hanson and Beau Janzig spent almost the entire third period on the ice and for the first time in the state tournament, kept Warroad’s Division I recruits Daimon Gardner and Jayson Shaugabay off the scoresheet.
Hermantown coach Pat Andrews had nothing but praise for his top defensemen, who also helped hold the Warriors to just one goal in the Hawks 2-1 win on Jan. 15.
“These two came off the rink like one time in the third period — they’re unbelievable studs,” Andrews said. “The work that these two kids did on their top line — two games in a row — it’s phenomenal.”
The first period was an up-and-down game, with Warroad’s Garrett Hennum scoring just over 6 minutes into the game to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead, much like the early goal Alexandria scored Friday in the semifinals.
Less than 30 seconds later, the Hawks’ Dominic Thomas wrapped his stick around the back of the goal and slipped a shot past Warriors goalie Hampton Slukynsky to tie the game.
Shaugabay, a Minnesota Duluth recruit, tried to respond with his own wraparound goal late in the third period, but Ty Hanson — another UMD commit — slid in front of the puck to keep the score tied.
“He’s a really good buddy of mine, I’ve played with him a lot and that’s his move,” Hanson said. “He just tries to wrap it, his stick is so long he can basically reach it around to the other side of the net. I saw it coming and I just went to the back post.”
Instead of exploding offensively after the goal, Hermantown’s attackers were held largely in check until Zam Plante scored on a backhand shot 55 seconds into the second period.
Warroad answered quickly when a puck ricocheted off the skate of Griffin Marvin to tie the score, but throughout the second period, Hermantown attackers forced Slukynsky to make some impressive saves.
Plante took a pass from Kade Kohanski at the 3:02 mark of the second period and fired it into the back of the net for his second of the period and what proved to be the game-winner.
In the third period, Warroad coach Jay Hardwick split up Gardner and Shuagabay to try throw the Hermantown defenders off — something Andrews said was a “good move.”
“We thought maybe if we split them it would give us a different look,” Hardwick said. “We’ve done that at different times — sometimes you split them up and get them away from some people and have some success. We just couldn’t find that one in the third period.”
Hardwick said Hanson and Janzig were the key to holding the Warriors' high-flying attack out of the net for the final 32 minutes of the game.
“They’re very good,” Hardwick said. “There’s a reason why Ty is committed to UMD. He’s in your face and he skates very well and Janzig — he’s a steady defenseman back there that makes it hard on people and he made it hard on our top line and our top guys today. I said I thought we needed to get more pucks on the net, but part of that is they made it hard on us to do that.”
Slukynsky made some terrific saves to keep the Hawks out of the net the rest of the game, but Plante’s second-period goals were all the Hawks needed for the win. He finished with 33 saves for Warroad.
“I think he is the best goaltender in the state,” Hardwick said. “Earlier this year he made some huge saves and gave us a chance and that’s what he does. He’s a competitor — he competes every day and then he doesn’t have highs and lows, he’s just calm and does his job. I imagine (Mahtomedi’s Ben) Dardis to win the (Frank Brimsek Award) tomorrow and I expect Hammer to win it next year because that’s how good he is.”
The Brimsek Award goes to the state's top senior goaltender. Slukynsky is a junior.
Callaway made 19 saves, but needed to make just nine over the final two periods to preserve the win for Hermantown.
Not a ‘redemption’ story
After the disappointing end to Hermantown’s 2021 season, Andrews was happy to snag his first title as the Hawks’ head coach, but he didn’t like the way the word “redemption” has been thrown around.
Hermantown looked to be headed back to the state title game, but the entire varsity team except Zam Plante was ruled out of the state quarterfinal after a COVID-19 exposure during the Section 7A semifinal against Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl.
Plante, who was sidelined with an injury during the section tournament, led the junior varsity squad in a valiant effort, but lost to Dodge County 7-3.
“I don’t like that word, I just think we were on a mission and it’s been, unfortunately, a 48-month mission instead of a 24-month mission,” Andrews said. “I’m just so proud of these guys, they put in an unbelievable amount of work and we’re unbelievably talented. But what no one sees is the amount of work these guys put in. I don’t know of anybody that skates as much as them.”