After Blake dismantled Hutchinson 9-0 in Wednesday’s Class 1A quarterfinals, Red Wing coach Scott Haley paid the Bears high homage. “They might be the best team in girls’ hockey,’’ he said. “They could possibly have won the double-A championship.’’
The lopsided score reignited chatter about whether Blake, which has won the past two Class 1A titles and three of the past six, should be playing in Class 2A.
Haley’s Wingers lost to the Bears in the semifinals in the past two years, and the two teams will face off in the semis again Friday at Xcel Energy Center.
Haley made it clear he does not view Blake as an “evil empire,” though he gave a blunt answer — “No” — when asked if Blake remained a good fit for Class 1A.
“I love [Blake coach Shawn Reid] dearly,” Haley said. “They’re good kids over there. But it’s not really a fair fight. It’s still really cool that we get an opportunity to play them because, last year, it was a great game.”
Blake, which has five Class 1A titles, beat Red Wing 5-4 in double overtime in last year’s semifinals.
The teams also played Nov. 25 this season, with Blake winning 6-1.
Hutchinson coach Mitch Fabel said his team had to “take our lump and move on,’’ but he also noted the challenge of facing Blake. “For a small-town team, when we feel we have something good and run into that buzz saw, it’s tough,’’ he said.
Reid — who played high school hockey with Haley at Lakeville — said he is not concerned with debate about whether Blake should remain in Class 1A. “I’m not focusing on that at all,” he said. “There are plenty of awesome teams in Class A.”
A shooting gallery
Thief River Falls fired shots on goal Wednesday from every conceivable angle, all game long, producing a state record. The Prowlers’ 58 shots on goal in their 5-1 quarterfinal victory against New Ulm set a state tournament record for a non-overtime game.
The former mark of 56 was set in 2011 by Breck against … New Ulm.
“I had no idea,” Thief River Falls coach Whitney Restemayer said. “My first thought after the game was that I was happy to be a part of this program’s first trip to state.
“And we are also the first to win a game — not just any game but the first game that puts us in the winners’ bracket.”
Announced attendance Wednesday was 1,480 for the first session and 1,580 for the second.