Minn. state Class A boys hockey: East Grand Forks wins state title
ST. PAUL — The Green Wave are the Title Wave for the first time in program history.
East Grand Forks Senior High won its first state boys hockey championship as seven different skaters scored — highlighted by a five-goal second period — to beat Hermantown 7-3 on Saturday in the title game of the Minnesota state Class A tournament at Xcel Energy Center.
It’s the school’s first state team title since 2004, when the Green Wave won the state football championship.
The first state hockey title came in Senior High’s ninth trip to the state tournament and second time in the championship game (1999).
“This was not a goal that was just set today,” said Senior High coach Tyler Palmiscno, a former standout player for the Green Wave. “This senior class set this goal five, six years ago. It’s pretty special. No one can take this away from us.”
No. 1 seed Senior High finished the year with a 28-2-1 record, winning 20 games in a row. The Wave, who took fourth at state in 2013, didn’t lose during January, February or March.
“It’s special to be the first,” Senior High senior defenseman Eddie Eades said. “We did it for all the times (East Grand Forks) came up a little short.”
Senior High pulled it off in shocking fashion behind a flurry of goals in the second period.
Senior High’s offensive explosion was a bit of a surprise for a team lauded for its defensive prowess. For most of the season, EGF’s sturdy defensive corps of Colton Poolman, Eddie Eades, Tye Ausmus and Taylor Brierley attracted the attention and praise.
“Our offense was doubted for a long part of this season,” Palmiscno said. “But we knew what we had in that locker room. Today, we went out and made plays.”
The box score against Hermantown portrays the incredible depth of East Grand Forks, which received goals from Dixon Bowen, Eades, Jace Pesch, Grant Loven, Reed Corbid, Cale Mack and Tanner Tweten.
A scary thought for Green Wave opponents, Palmiscno and the team didn’t feel like they had played their best hockey at state coming into the championship. Senior High beat Orono and St. Cloud Cathedral in the opening rounds.
“We felt all year that when we played our best, it was going to be tough for anyone in the state to beat us,” Palmiscno said. “That was our attitude coming here. The feeling in our locker room was that through two games, we had yet to be our best. Today, we came out with our best.”
Palmiscno said he liked his team’s start, although it was tough to grade a bizarre first period that saw Senior High take four penalties. Senior High trailed 1-0 at the first intermission.
“Looking back, I thought we won it in the first,” Palmiscno said. “To kill those penalties and come out only down 1-0 — by giving up a fluky goal — I thought that was a win for us.”
Hermantown’s Scott Wasbotten scored with 43 seconds left in the first period on a seemingly harmless shot that caromed off the stick of a Senior High forward and into the net.
“It was a tough period,” Ausmus said. “It’s a state championship game and nothing is given. But everything was going our way in that second period. That’s why we’re sitting here as champions.”
The Wave tied the score at 1-1 early in the second period when Bowen finished off a strong rush play on perfect puck movement from both Loven and Tweten.
Seventy seconds later, Eades buried a shot through a screen in the slot. The play was set up by Reed Corbid’s massive hit at neutral ice that created a numbers mismatch for the Wave.
“Eddie’s goal really told us we could win this game,” Palmiscno said.
The Wave pushed the lead to 5-1 by the end of the second period. Hermantown was never closer than three goals the rest of the way as Senior High goalie Josh Weber was named to the all-tournament team and finished with 22 saves.
For Hermantown, it was a fifth straight loss in the state championship game.
“It gets to be a big sack of rocks on your back after a while,” Hermantown coach Bruce Plante said of the runner-up finishes. “It gets to be heavy. It’s brutal man, I tell you.
“(East Grand Forks) was nasty physical. They played great and took it to us. Our kids played so hard. I’m proud of the team. I love them to death. They played as hard as they could, but they ran into a better team.”
Palmiscno said his team reached that status by a year-round dedication.
“Whether it was on the ice or off the ice, this team worked for it the other seven, eight months of the year,” he said. “This corps group was really committed to becoming hockey players. They don’t want to just play hockey; they want to be hockey players. The reason we’re sitting here right now is because these guys committed so much to become hockey players.”
r High won its first state boys hockey championship as seven different skaters scored — highlighted by a five-goal second period — to beat Hermantown 7-3 on Saturday in the title game of the Minnesota state Class A tournament at Xcel Energy Center.