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Minnesota state boys hockey: St. Thomas Acedemy shuts out Thief River Falls

ST. PAUL - A state title might be out of reach, but there's still a chance of taking a trophy back to Thief River Falls. St. Thomas Academy broke out in the third period with three goals, beating the Thief River Falls boys hockey team 5-0 on Frid...

St. Thomas Academy's Alex Johnson
St. Thomas Academy's Alex Johnson shoots wide on Thief River Falls goalie Jon Narverud during the Minnesota Class 1A state boys hockey tournament Friday in St. Paul. David Samson / The Forum

ST. PAUL - A state title might be out of reach, but there's still a chance of taking a trophy back to Thief River Falls.

St. Thomas Academy broke out in the third period with three goals, beating the Thief River Falls boys hockey team 5-0 on Friday in the semifinal round of the Minnesota Class 1A state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center.

"I thought we came out and played pretty decent in the third," said TRF coach Tim Bergland. "But once they scored, we played back on our heels and we played not to lose. They're good and they come at you."

The Prowlers (20-9-1) will face Hibbing-Chisholm (18-10-2) in the third-place game, which will be played at 9 a.m. today. St. Thomas Academy (25-6) will face Hermantown (25-3-2) for the state title.

St. Thomas' big third period was the product of wearing down a bigger, physical Thief River Falls team.

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Cadets coach Tom Vannelli said beating a team like the Prowlers meant quick puck movement.

St. Thomas was quick when Zach Schroeder scored with 18 seconds left in the first for a 1-0 lead.

"Coming into a state tournament, you always have to be ready for a big game," said Schroeder, who finished with two goals and an assist. "You know they did get here for a reason."

Schroeder's goal gave the Cadets a bit of breathing room, but it wasn't much because of Prowlers goalie Jon Narverud.

The Cadets continually created chances and rushes that Narverud was able to stop until Andrew Commers increased the lead to 2-0 with 9:47 left in the second.

Yet it wasn't like the Cadets were safe given the Prowlers came back from a two-goal hole in a 7-5 upset against two-time defending state champion Breck in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

"Our thing was we didn't want to give them life," Vannelli said. "They were going through the motions and we wanted to keep it that way."

Then came the three-goal third that put the game out of reach. But the Prowlers have a chance to come home with something.

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It might not be a state title, something Thief River Falls hasn't won since 1956. But getting a third-place trophy will account for something since the Prowlers haven't placed at state since a sixth-place finish in 2006.

Winning, however, won't be easy. Hibbing-Chisholm features sophomore forward Adam Johnson, who scored a hat trick in a 6-4 loss to Hermantown.

Johnson scored 70 points (36 goals, 34 assists) in 25 regular-season games.

"It was something we've talked about, that there is a lot of history and banners with Thief River hockey," Bergland said. "There are plaques on the wall in the state tournament they are playing for third. They have to deal with what they just went through and try to bring third place home."

FIRST PERIOD: 1. STA, Schroeder (Reed), 16:42.

SECOND PERIOD: 2. STA, Commers (unassisted), 8:13

THIRD PERIOD: 3. STA, Johnson (unassisted), sh, 1:41. 4. STA, Schroeder (Reid, Schurhamer), 7:17. 5. STA, Schurhamer (Schroeder), pp, 14:04

SAVES: TRF, Narverud 9-12-3 24 saves. STA, Zevnik 5-5-2 12 saves

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Hermantown 6, Hibbing-Chisholm 4

After Hermantown lost the state championship due to an unlucky deflection last season, the few returning Hawks wanted their chance at redemption.

Despite losing 14 players from last year's state runner-up squad, Hermantown has another shot at glory thanks to a couple of fortunate bounces of their own.

Hawks junior Andrew Mattson snapped a 4-4 tie with just more than six minutes remaining and Hermantown held on to beat Hibbing-Chisholm 6-4 in the first semifinal of the Minnesota Class 1A state boys hockey tournament on Friday at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Hawks will face St. Thomas Academy in today's state title game.

"We didn't have many returners, but our goal at the beginning was to be right back in this game," junior defenseman Jared Kolquist said. "There was a lot of passion to get here."

A few bounces going Hermantown's way certainly helped.

Kolquist finished the scoring on a long empty-net goal with 49 seconds left.

After deflecting a shot in his defensive zone, Kolquist flipped the puck down the length of the ice into the waiting net, negating a late Hibbing-Chisholm power play.

Mattson's game-winner wasn't a picture-perfect goal either, just the result of some hard work.

Mattson sneaked a rebound shot past Bluejackets goaltender Nathan Tromp and just inside the far post to put Hermantown (25-3-2) into its second consecutive state title game.

"(Coach) has taught us, 'Just crash the net with everything you've got,'" Mattson said. "Sure enough the rebound just came to my stick and I batted away at it and it went in."

Mattson added two assists and Garrett Skrbich scored twice for the Hawks, who lost 2-1 to Breck in the final last season after a puck deflected off of a Breck player's shin pad and past Hermantown's goaltender for the winning score with 1:40 left.

"We want to make the most of it this time and we want to come up on the winning side," Kolquist said.

Travis Koepke and Jesse Dyson also scored for Hermantown. Dyson's goal was shot from behind the goal and deflected off a Hibbing-Chisholm player into the net, part of a four-goal spurt in the second period for the Hawks.

Bluejackets sophomore Adam Johnson scored three straight goals to erase the 4-1 deficit.

"If you let him loose he'll beat you up every time," Hermantown coach Bruce Plante said. "He's unbelievable. He's as good a player as we've seen this year. He's got the great hands, good vision and he's tough inside."

Johnson's effort was just what the Bluejackets needed to restore their faith.

"That's what we needed," Hibbing-Chisholm coach Mark DeCenzo said. "We finally got it. We made a couple of nice plays. We got a spark and it gave us a belief. After that, we were much better hockey team."

Nick DeCenzo added a goal and two assists for Hibbing-Chisholm (18-10-2).

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.

Clark's Force blog can be found at slightlychilled.areavoices.com

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