Maple Grove, minus suspended players and coach, loses to Blaine

  • Article by: DAVID LA VAQUE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 18, 2013 - 3:35 PM

Maple Grove, without its coach and 13 suspended players, stayed close to Blaine.


Players skated past the Maple Grove bench that sat in front of a sparsely attended audience.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger


In addition to 13 suspended players, Maple Grove boys’ hockey coach Gary Stefano was not on the bench Thursday night at Blaine after being placed on paid administrative leave pending a school district investigation.

Earlier this week, the Crimson players were suspended for at least two games each after an investigation into an incident at a private home in mid-December.

The suspensions began Thursday night when Maple Grove lost to No. 9-ranked Blaine 5-2.

A new complaint against Stefano prompted the district to launch a separate investigation, said Barbara Olson, the community relations director for School District 279.

Olson did not comment on the nature of the complaint or whether it was tied to the December incident. She said Stefano can teach physical education and be paid during the investigation.

Maple Grove assistant Josh Hicks took over head coaching duties on Thursday, working with an improvised roster. His team trailed by one only goal going into the third period against Blaine.

"We had a lot of kids step up and do some really smart things out there," Hicks said. "That's what we ask."

Earlier this week, Stefano said "a couple'' of players face four-game suspensions. The rest will miss two games. Maple Grove's next game is Tuesday at Anoka.

Hicks declined to discuss his interim head coach duties and did not make players available for comment. Maple Grove activities director Ron Zopfi would not discuss Stefano's absence either.

Stefano did not return a message.

Maple Grove dressed 20 players Thursday. The starting lineup included five skaters who have competed in nearly every varsity game this season. But the suspensions hurt the Crimson's depth. Hicks said he used 10 forwards, "some a heck of a lot more than we used others. We were doubling up one line almost the entire game. We've got some pretty heavy legs in the locker room."

These rivals last met in early March in the Class 2A, Section 5 championship game, a 15-1 romp that ended Blaine's six-year run of section titles and sent the Crimson to its first state tournament.

"Before the game Josh said, 'I'm sure your guys have been waiting eight months to play us again,' " Blaine coach Dave Aus said. "To have this happen made it kind of anticlimactic."

Aus said he "had a directive from my AD and principal to make sure" the Bengals wouldn't attempt to run up the score. Maple Grove's spirited effort Thursday negated sportsmanship concerns.

"We've never done that to teams, so it wouldn't have happened anyways," Aus said. "You still want to tell the kids to be classy. Maple Grove is in a tough spot right now. But I thought their kids played really hard."

  • related content

  • Thursday's prep roundup

    Friday January 18, 2013

    Woodward reaches milestone for Edina boys' basketball

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Washington 0
Pittsburgh 7 FINAL
Detroit 3
Miami 3 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Boston - WP: K. Couch 11 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: C. Reavis 8
NY Yankees - LP: M. Tanaka 1 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: T. Milone 3
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Baltimore 3
Philadelphia 6 FINAL
Toronto 10
Chicago Cubs 15 FINAL
Texas 10
Cincinnati - WP: M. Lorenzen 10 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 4
Colorado 3 FINAL
San Francisco 4
Chicago WSox 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 1
Seattle 6 FINAL
Cleveland 8
Oakland - WP: J. Fuller 13 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: B. Loconsole 10
Texas 7 FINAL
Arizona 8
Houston 8 FINAL
Atlanta 5
Kansas City 4 FINAL
San Diego 1
Atlanta 95 FINAL
Detroit 105
Indiana 106 FINAL
Brooklyn 111
San Antonio 95 FINAL
Miami 81
Golden State 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 106
New Jersey 2 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 3
Carolina 2 FINAL
Washington 4
Florida 2 FINAL
Boston 3
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Detroit 1
Tampa Bay 1 FINAL
Toronto 3
NY Rangers 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 5 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
UT Martin 66 FINAL
Evansville 79
Miami-Florida 60 FINAL
Temple 57
Northern Ariz 68
Stanford 67 FINAL
Old Dominion 60


question of the day

Poll: Who are you rooting for in the NCAA Final Four?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters