For the first time in state tournament history, a player from each team scored a hat trick in a state championship game Saturday.
In Saturday's Class 1A final, Warroad top-line junior center Carson Pilgrim scored the first goal of the first, second and third periods, completing his hat trick at 3:58 of the third. Mahtomedi senior Charlie Drage scored all three of his goals in the third period — at 4:36, 11:00 and 15:40 — for his own hat trick that helped the Zephyrs tie the game 5-5 and eventually send it to overtime.
Hats were picked up from the Xcel Energy Center ice for each trick, a couple of celebrations ahead of Mahtomedi's eventual 6-5 two-overtime victory.
Warroad was also involved, and on the losing end, the only other time two hat tricks were recorded in a boys hockey state championship game, but the two who did it then played for the same team. That was in 1948, in the fourth state tournament, when Eveleth defeated Warroad 8-2.
John Matchefts scored in the second period and then twice in a 25-second span in the third period, posting the first hat trick of the game by 7:10 of the third. His Eveleth teammate Tony Tassoni scored the first goal of the game before adding two in the third for his hat trick, completing the feat 22 seconds after Matchefts.
Drage scored five of his team-leading 35 goals this season in the state tournament. After all his hard work to win a championship, he'll now need a bit of dental work. During the on-ice celebration, Drage said teammate Carson Marshall "bodied me into the boards," chipping his teeth.
"I tasted something weird in my mouth," said Drage, who resembled the Lloyd Christmas character played by Jim Carrey in "Dumb and Dumber." "I said, 'That's not normal,' and then I felt it.
"You can replace teeth. You can't replace this moment."
Hardwick gets heated
The weight of an unfulfilled goal to end a previously unbeaten season got to Warroad coach Jay Hardwick on Saturday afternoon, when his Warriors fell in double overtime to Mahtomedi. Unprompted, Hardwick aired his grievances with the officials.
"I think it was on their second goal," Hardwick said to the assembled media. "Our defenseman's coming around the net and they got him in an arm bar. I asked the officials, and their explanation is, 'Well, we don't want to influence the game.' Well, by not calling stuff like that, they are influencing the game. Our guys are skilled players. And [Mahtomedi was] allowed to clutch and grab and hack and whack. That's not our game.
"I told them after the game, they should be embarrassed. The state high school league should be embarrassed. Call penalties if they're penalties."
Mahtomedi was called for one penalty in the game, Warroad for two.
Bill Kronschnabel, coordinator of hockey officials for the Minnesota State High School League, said, "I'm not going to comment on derogatory comments made by the losing coach of a highly emotional state tournament championship game."
DAVID LA VAQUE
Edina misses with double-post hit
Down a goal, Edina pulled its goaltender for the extra attacker late in Saturday's championship game. As the Hornets pressured, they had one of the best chances of the night and came oh-so-close to tying the game in the final minute of regulation.
Off a rebound, the puck squirted free to Edina senior Matt Vander Vort near the side of the goal. With Minnetonka goaltender Kaizer Nelson almost fully on his back, leaving a wide-open cage, Vander Vort took his shot. The puck glanced off the near post, skidded across in midair, hitting the far post before exiting toward the other side of the ice.
It was the game-tying opportunity Edina was looking for, and a double bounce that likely had Skippers fans breathing a sigh of relief.
"Honestly, I just thank the gods for that one," Nelson said, adding that he touched the post afterward, "saying thanks."
Minnetonka ends season on 20-game run
Minnetonka finished its championship season with what coach Sean Goldsworthy said was a school-record 29 wins.
"I think this is our 20th in a row," Goldsworthy said. "Which is ridiculous. I usually go into the year thinking if you could just win 20 games total, you're having an elite season. And we just rattled off 20 in a row."
Their last loss came Jan. 7 at home, a 3-1 decision against another of the best teams in the state this season, Wayzata. The Skippers also lost to Chanhassen, 4-1, on Dec. 10. They got redemption for that one with a double-overtime, 2-1 victory over Chanhassen in the Section 2 title game.
In 21 of the Skippers' 29 victories this season, the team allowed one or zero goals, finishing the year with 10 shutouts.
New line sparks Edina in postseason
In the regular-season finale, Edina got "thumped," as coach Curt Giles put it, 7-0 by Wayzata. The Hornets were a bit flat as they headed into the section tournament, something longtime coach Giles was concerned about with his team.
So he made a line change to "shake things up a little bit."
He moved up Bobby Cowan to the line with forwards Jackson Nevers and Ryan Flaherty, forming an all-junior line, ahead of the team's three Section 6 games.
"We had to do something to get their attention," Giles said. "Because if we stayed the same, you're going to get the same result, to a certain extent."
The move paid off, propelling the Hornets to the Class 2A state championship game. In the section tournament, the line combined for six goals and 16 assists in three games, including a 2-1 Edina win over Wayzata in the section final.
Cowan came into his own in the state tournament, scoring a hat trick and two assists in the quarterfinal against Moorhead, then adding a goal in the semifinals before tying the game 28 seconds into the third period against Minnetonka on Saturday.
"Bobby's a finisher, he's a goal scorer," Giles said. "So, throw those guys together, hoping for good things to happen."
Flaherty added three goals and three assists at state, and Nevers added a goal and assist at state.
Class 1A: Junior defenseman Drew Nelson scored twice as Hermantown blanked Orono 2-0 on Saturday morning at Xcel Energy Center. Nelson doubled his regular-season total. Senior goaltender Garron Opsahl worked the shutout, his fifth of the season.
Class 2A: Andover's Brooks Cogswell, Cayden Casey and Landon Stringfellow each scored in the final 2:02 to defeat Cretin-Derham Hall 5-3 on Saturday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center. The Raiders held a 40-26 advantage in shots on goal.
Class 2A: Hill-Murray built a pair of three-goals leads en route to a 5-3 victory against Maple Grove on Saturday at 3M Arena at Mariucci.
Junior forward Simon Siedl led the Pioneers with two goals and an assist.
Class 1A: Alexandria scored first but St. Cloud Cathedral took over the game in a 4-1 victory. Sophomore forward Joey Gillespie scored twice as the Crusaders prevailed Saturday at 3M Arena at Mariucci.
Herb Brooks Award winners
Mahtomedi senior forward David Wolsfeld was chosen the Herb Brooks Award recipient for Class 1A. The Class 2A Herb Brooks winner was Jack Erickson, Hill-Murray senior goaltender.