Chip Scoggins: Another Cadets title re-ignites private vs. public debate

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 9, 2013 - 10:09 PM

St. Thomas Academy won its third Class 1A title in a row before bumping up to 2A next year, but the controversial ending ignited more private vs. public school debates.

hide

Matt Perry (23) of St. Thomas Academy celebrated after scoring in the third period. It was Perry's third goal of the game. St. Thomas Academy beat Hermantown by a final score 5-4.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Bruce Plante can’t stand the private school philosophy. He didn’t like it before Saturday and he likes it even less now.

The Hermantown hockey coach probably will even help the St. Thomas Academy Cadets pack their bags before they shove off for Class 2A, their rightful new home starting next season.

The public school vs. private school debate raged after the Cadets defeated Hermantown 5-4 in the Class 1A boys’ hockey championship game for a third consecutive season, thanks to a third-period rally and winning goal by sophomore Tommy Novak with 6.1 seconds left in regulation.

The Cadets became the first boys’ team to three-peat since Bloomington Jefferson’s 1992-94 run, and they left their legion of critics seething with a final exclamation point that fanned the flames of those who believe the private-school powerhouse has no business playing small-school hockey. That St. Thomas Academy benefitted from questionable officiating late and Hermantown didn’t was the equivalent of throwing a match into a gasoline can.

“It makes you feel like you’re getting homered,” Plante said. “It stinks.”

No topic in Minnesota high school hockey circles stirs as much emotion as private schools. Diplomatic peace talks have a better chance at civility than a high school game between private and public schools.

St. Thomas Academy has long served as a villain in that conversation because of the school’s insistence on remaining at the 1A level. The school had that prerogative based on enrollment figures, but the Cadets also enjoyed the best of both worlds: They could recruit top players and play 2A teams during the regular season and then collect trophies against weaker competition in the tournament. They outscored their opponents 28-4 in this tournament.

School officials finally made the right call in December by announcing a move next season to Class 2A, which is where they belong based on their stature and built-in advantages. They should test themselves against the big boys. Plus, this move gives their players a chance to receive proper credit for success without having to apologize for it. State championships should be celebrated, not mocked.

“There’s a lot of pressure, more from the outside,” co-coach Greg Vannelli said. “You’re not human if you don’t recognize that it’s going on.”

Plante hasn’t masked his thoughts on the matter. The veteran coach has railed against private schools before and he spoke his mind again after his team lost to a private school in the championship game for a fourth consecutive season.

“I have nothing against the Vannellis,” Plante said of Greg and his brother/co-coach Tom. “They’re great coaches. I don’t buy into this private school philosophy, that’s all. I don’t think you should be able to get kids from Wisconsin and Missouri and all over Minnesota and make a team. I just don’t agree with that. I don’t think it’s right, and I certainly don’t think they should be in single-A hockey.

“This year, I had nine parents of kids that wanted to move to Hermantown and play for us. You know what I told them? Stay there and play with your kids and do your best there and make everyone in your community proud. That’s just my philosophy. It’s not personal. I don’t believe they should be able to get all the kids from wherever and then come here. And we have to compete against that? Come on. Plus, it kills other programs. You finally get a couple of good players and off they go to a private school. It doesn’t feel good to me, it doesn’t feel right.”

Greg Vannelli declined to get into a verbal sparring match.

“We have a different philosophy than he does,” he said. “If I lose, I just say, ‘Congratulations to the other team and I have to get better.’ He likes to go at St. Thomas and say [that] because we win, we’re supposed to move up and there’s no way they could beat us. I just disagree with that philosophy.”

Hermantown had its chances. The Hawks played hard and tough and led 4-2 entering the final period. But they lost their lead and left themselves vulnerable to a controversial finish, which started when Scott Wasbotten received a holding penalty with 1:57 remaining. In the final flurry, the Cadets’ Alex Johnson grabbed Jake Zeleznikar in what the Hermantown player called a “headlock” as he went to retrieve the puck, but the officials did not call a penalty. Novak buried the winner on a slapshot a few seconds later.

An irate Plante confronted the officials on the ice after the game. His face was still red 30 minutes later as he addressed reporters.

“I will never forget this one,” he said.

Neither will anyone else.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
San Francisco 17 FINAL
Denver 42
Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Boston 95 FINAL
Brooklyn 90
Minnesota 112 FINAL
Oklahoma City 94
Golden State 83 FINAL
Houston 90
Charlotte 96 FINAL
Chicago 101
Utah 91 FINAL
LA Lakers 98
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
San Jose 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Calgary 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
St. Louis 0 FINAL
Anaheim 3
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Columbus 3 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Seattle 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close