East Grand Forks coach Tyler Palmiscno is well-versed in the rhythms of the Class 1A tournament, having led his Green Wave to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul in each of the past three seasons.
Yet even Palmiscno was taken aback by the sheer number of boisterous, yellow-clad Mahtomedi fans in attendance for Friday’s semifinal.
“I asked Mahtomedi’s coach [Jeff Poeschl] how big their community was and he said, ‘7,500’ and I said, ‘Well, I think they’re all here,’ ” Palmiscno said. “Their student section was huge for a Class 1A game.”
A crowd of 12,487 was in attendance, the largest for a Friday afternoon session dating to 1995 when the tournament was split into two classes. The previous record for the Class 1A semifinals was 11,320 in 2012.
“In my 10 years with the tournament, I have not see the A semis with that size of a crowd,” tournament director Craig Perry of the Minnesota State High School League said.
Typically the upper section of the Xcel Center is closed for Class 1A games. But that portion of the arena was opened early in the day by officials monitoring fans flooding through the gates.
The league also announced revised attendance numbers for both Thursday sessions because of what it termed a system error. The Thursday afternoon session was revised from 15,005 to 18,749. Thursday evening’s attendance went from 14,993 to 19,005.
What is believed to be an arm injury had knocked star junior defenseman Trevor Selk out of East Grand Forks’ lineup for the past six weeks. He watched Wednesday’s quarterfinal victory over New Prague in street clothes, and didn’t figure to play in Friday’s semifinals against Mahtomedi.
That prognosis changed Thursday when a Twin Cities doctor cleared him to play.
“It was awesome,” Selk said with a smile about hearing the news he could play. “I was with my mom, and she was pumped and I was pumped.”
Selk not only played a regular shift, he scored 3:16 into the third period to put East Grand Forks ahead 4-2.
“It’s great to have him back,” Green Wave senior Grant Loven said.
On goes Cadets’ Tufto
Through two state tournament games, St. Thomas Academy senior forward Peter Tufto has been involved in all nine Cadets goals. Tufto had two goals and three assists in St. Thomas Academy’s 6-5 overtime loss to Duluth East on Thursday. On Friday he had two goals and two assists in the Cadets’ 4-2 victory consolation semifinal victory over Bemidji.
Tufto’s nine points in the tournament bumps his school single-season record to 81. Tom Novak held the previous record with 75.