Dakota United senior Grayson Nicolay, the all-time leading scorer in adapted floor hockey, is finally going out on top.
Nicolay led the Hawks to their first state title since 2006 on Saturday. They beat Anoka-Hennepin 3-2 in the state finals of the Physically Impaired Division at Bloomington Jefferson High School.
“It’s a Cinderella story,” said Nicolay, who first joined the team as a seventh-grader and finished his career with 251 goals, a state record for his sport. “It feels amazing. It feels like we found our glass slipper.”
Nicolay led the Hawks with two goals. The first one, coming unassisted halfway through the first period, gave Dakota United a 1-0 lead.
Dakota United added two goals in the second period, the first scored by eighth-grader Blake Jackson with an assist from junior Kyra Patterson. Nicolay’s second goal came minutes later with assists from Patterson and Jackson.
Anoka-Hennepin’s Tyler Ezell and Joey Manion each scored in the third to bring their team within one, but the comeback fell short. Kai France assisted both goals.
Manion’s goal came on a power play after the Hawks’ third penalty of the game. Coach Brett Sadek said Dakota United was prepared to kill the penalties.
“We had a bunch of penalties in [the semifinal game] before, too, so we got our practice,” Sadek said. “They’re a fast, quick team. We had to kind of be right on them.”
Mustangs junior goalie Ben Schmitz made 36 saves.
Winning the title in Nicolay’s last season “was in everybody’s minds. He’s had such a nice career,” said Sadek, whose team was the runner-up from 2012-2014 and lost in the first round last year. “It’s great for everybody else as well, but for him … it was nice to go out that way.”
CI: North Suburban wins
Led by a hat trick from sophomore Josh Hamann, North Suburban won the adapted floor hockey state championship in the Cognitively Impaired Division with a 6-5 victory over Anoka-Hennepin.
“It feels great,” Hamann said. “Everybody did their job, and we all did great. It was awesome.”
North Suburban struck quickly, scoring two goals in the first six minutes of the game to go up 2-0.
Anoka-Hennepin answered with two unassisted goals in the second, both by Cole Denny, but North Suburban added three goals in the period to extend their lead to 5-2.
Denny scored three times in the third and finished with five goals, but North Suburban notched one more goal of its own in the final period to clinch the victory.
North Suburban’s Anthony Bengtson added two goals, and Austin Motzko also scored for the Cougars.
The title is the Cougars’ second in program history; the other was in 2013. North Suburban finished as the runner-up in 2015.
“It was very intense, Anoka-Hennepin is a very good team,” Cougars coach Deb Kline said. “All in all, it was a good game. … We came out here to win, and we did it.”
Kaitlin Merkel is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.