The state tournament’s pregame introductions are the most anticipated moment in high school hockey. Do it up right, and maybe you become an internet sensation. Do it wrong, and you’re famous, too.
St. Cloud Cathedral sophomore Jon Bell skidded into that latter category on Friday during the Class 1A semifinals. Bell, described as one of the Crusaders’ best skaters by coach Derrick Brown, lost an edge and tumbled to the ice just as he reached the blue line during the starting lineup introductions.
“All I can say about that is it is a high school meme of the year,” Bell said with a grin.
Bell’s stumble didn’t bring the rest of the Crusaders down.
“Honestly, I thought it would affect us a little bit,” junior forward Jack Smith said. “But it didn’t. We came out strong in the first period.”
Mahtomedi has appeared in 11 state tournaments and reached the semifinals five times.
Clearing that last hurdle to the championship game has proved vexing for the Zephyrs, as they’ve lost all five of those semifinals — three of them in overtime. Friday’s 3-2 overtime loss to Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin comes on the heels of last year’s 5-4 overtime loss to Orono in the semifinals.
“I thought that this was the group that would push us over the top,” Mahtomedi coach Jeff Poeschl said of his team, seeded No. 1 for the first time in the program’s history. “We certainly have the talent. Obviously, it is disappointing for all of us.”
St. Cloud Cathedral has been carrying a briefcase around all season, a nod to its “Unfinished Business” theme. The Crusaders’ resolve to win the program’s first championship was hardened last season after losing to Alexandria in a double-overtime section final.
“Jack Smith, when he decided last summer not to go and play for Team USA (National Team Development Program), he said we have unfinished business,” Cathedral coach Brown said. “That’s why we have a little briefcase that we carry with us that we give to the player of the game.”
Announcer McLeod apologizes for remark
Play-by-play announcer Doug McLeod apologized Friday afternoon, a day after referring to “lynching ropes” while calling a quarterfinal game on Thursday in the boys’ hockey state tournament.
McLeod issued a statement to the Star Tribune, saying he was “mortified.”
“As I have occasionally done, I went for a movie reference but, out of context, it sounded totally inappropriate,” he wrote, without clarifying which movie he was referring to. “I said it. I own it. I was wrong.”
McLeod was ultimately pulled off the air.
Star Tribune staff writer Liz Sawyer contributed to this report.