St. Thomas Academy outlasted Hermantown with a dramatic 5-4 victory in Saturday’s Class 1A boys’ hockey state tournament championship game at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Sophomore Tommy Novak scored with 6.1 seconds remaining to complete the Cadets’ third consecutive small-school title. They are the first team in either class to win three in a row since Bloomington Jefferson from 1992-94.
All three of the Cadets’ titles came at Hermantown’s expense. The Hawks, which settled for second place for the fourth consecutive season overall, seemed poised for an upset.
The teams traded goals within the final two minutes of the first period. Matt Perry scored for the Cadets at 15:12 but Chris Benson answered with a power-play goal at 15:54.
Hermantown expanded its lead to 3-1 in the second period on goals just 58 seconds apart from Scott Wasbotten and Ryan Kero. Once again, the teams closed the period with goal in the last two minutes.
Perry cut the Hawks lead to 3-2 at 15:07. But Lane LeGarde, going hard to the net, got a puck over the goal line at 15:44 to restore a two-goal lead at 4-2.
Perry tied the game 4-4 and completed the hat trick at 2:53 of the third period.
The game called to mind the 2011 final in which Hermantown built a 3-0 first period lead against the Cadets but lost 5-4 in overtime.
No overtime was needed Saturday. Novak’s goal closed the Cadets’ area as small-school powers. St. Thomas Academy will opt-up to Class 2A next season. The Minnesota State High School League announced earlier Saturday that the team was placed in Section 3.