Sluggish. Scared. Nervous.
Hermantown coach Bruce Plante said some of his best teams are at least one of those things in the first period of the state tournament.
Nervous best described this group of Hawks. The two-time Class 1A runners-up entered Wednesday’s quarterfinal game against Rochester Lourdes with championship aspirations and an undefeated record.
So when Rochester Lourdes got a last-second goal from Alex Funk to close the first period, Plante preached calm in the locker room.
“That first period in the state tournament, guys do things out of character,” Plante said.
No. 1 seed Hermantown returned to form in the second period, scoring three unanswered goals to pull away for a 7-2 victory. The Hawks (29-0) remain on course to become the first unbeaten, untied team in the two-class tournament era since Red Wing’s 1997 team.
“This time of the season it really doesn’t matter what your record is,” Jared Kolquist said. “You take it night by night and try to get the W’s. I don’t think the guys put too much pressure on themselves.”
Rochester Lourdes (20-9) felt the pressure in the second period as Hermantown’s defensive corps turned stifling. Leading 3-2 after the late first period goal, the Hawks scored three times while allowing just three Eagles’ shots on goal.
Chris Benson and Kolquist scored goals less than one minute apart and the Hawks never looked back. Jared Thomas finished with two goals and two assists. “It was fun while it lasted,” Funk said of closing the gap. “But we got it taken to us in the second period.”