North Branch boys' hockey coach Matt Cottingham didn't blink last weekend when shelling out the cash that allowed him to connect with the world while on a cruise to the Bahamas with his family. The sixth-year Vikings coach did, after all, have the media obligations that go with leading a team to the state tournament for the first time.
"I did about six or seven interviews on the cruise," he said with a laugh. "I even did a few when I was on the bus on the way to the ship in Miami."
Cottingham learned in December that his wife, Theresa, had earned the free cruise for her family (the Cottinghams have two kids) through her work. The date of the trip just happened to coincide with the Vikings' run-up to the state tournament, which Cottingham figured might be a conflict.
"At the time I found out about the trip we were 11-2-1," he said. "I knew what we had."
Cottingham, who said he hadn't been on a family vacation since taking over the North Branch program, left Friday after the team's section final victory Thursday night. He missed the team's Saturday practice but returned home for Monday afternoon's session.
"I would do it again, for sure," he said after the Vikings lost 7-0 to St. Cloud Cathedral in Wednesday's Class 1A quarterfinals. "It didn't change how we played today or how we practiced or prepared."
Sunshine State star
Chants of "Mr. Hockey" or "He's a freshman" are common student- section serenades for a goal scorer.
So what was up with the St. Cloud Cathedral faithful shouting, "He's from Florida," following Jackson Savoie's first-period goal?
Born in St. Cloud, Savoie moved to and from Jacksonville, Fla., because of family dynamics. He returned north as a sophomore and has scored 19 goals as a senior this season. Some of his former Sunshine State hockey teammates "know how big of a deal" the tournament is, Savoie said.
Avalanche of rubber
New Ulm senior goaltender Jack Raymond stopped 49 of 55 shots, including a whopping 23 in the first period, against Mahtomedi, a high volume that didn't faze him.
Raymond's busiest night came as a sophomore, when he posted a 64-save shutout, the first of his career, at Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl.
Eagles coach Ryan Neuman wondered Wednesday whether that past performance ranks as a state record. That's unlikely. However, the Minnesota State High School League's records for most stops in a regulation game (76) doesn't specify whether that effort came in a victory or loss.
Wednesday afternoon's attendance was an announced 6,093. The evening session drew 7,502.