PREVIEW: Moose, Hermantown clash for Class A State Championship

What: The Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake boys hockey team is set to take on the Hermantown Hawks in the Class A State Championship game.

When: Noon, Saturday, March 11.

Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN.

Headed to the X: Tickets cost $17 adults, $11 students for games held at Xcel Energy Center;

If you can’t make it: The first round, semifinal round and championship games will all be carried live on 45TV. Webcasts will also be available at Prep45.com with a paid subscription. KRWC1360 out of Buffalo will be on-hand broadcasting radio coverage of the game. Radio broadcast is also available through Minnesota Sports Broadcast Network, at http://www.msbnsports.net/

At stake: A state championship. A place in history. A lot.

Getting to this point: MAML finds itself in the championship after pulling off the biggest upset in Class A since the tournament started being seeded 10 years ago. For the first time in those ten years, a team knocked off a Top-2 seed in the opening round. The Moose did it by beating the high-powered No. 2 Delano Tigers 3-2 on Wednesday morning. Following that, MAML won a 3-2 thriller against Northfield in the semifinal round. MAML trailed 2-0 before rallying for a 3-2 win when Nick Zwack scored the game-winner with just three seconds left in regulation. Prior to that the Moose rolled through Section 5A, dominating Moose Lake and Princeton before winning a more closely contested game against Chisago Lakes last Thursday night, 3-1.
Hermantown arrives off two equally thrilling victories. The top-seeded Hawks escaped Luverne 3-2 in overtime on Wednesday, before rallying from a three-goal deficit to knock off St. Cloud Cathedral, 6-5, in overtime Friday. Hermantown earned its spot at state by winning Section 7A. Hermantown won the opening two games by a total margin of 18-1, before beating Greenway 5-1 in the section final.

Common opponents: Hermantown will be the third straight opponent for MAML that they have no prior experience with this year. However, they’ve played a number of the same teams. Hermantown registered wins over St. Cloud Cathedral (twice), St. Michael-Albertville, and Delano this year. MAML lost to Cathedral and STMA, and beat Delano.

About the Hawks: Hermantown enters the Class A State Championship game as the No. 1 team in the class with a bullet. The Hawks have been to eight straight state tournaments, and made the championship game in most. Hermantown is the reigning state champions in Class A. This year the Hawks carry a record of 28-1-1 into the state championship game. They have won 28 consecutive games since starting the season with a loss to Wayzata and a tie against Lakeville South. During the regular season, Hermantown outscored opponents by a 143-33 margin. The Hawks allowed just seven first-period goals all season, while scoring 36. Hermantown scored on 31.2 percent of power plays while killing 89.4 percent of opponent’s man-advantage opportunities during the regular season.
Four players recorded 40 or more points for the Hawks during the regular season, led by Ryan Sandelin with 63 points on 27 goals and 36 assists. Jesse Jaques finished second on the team with 23 goals and 51 assists, while Matt Valure and Tyler Watkins posted 42 and 40 points respectively.
Cade McEwen played all but two games in net for Hermantown and stopped a brick-wall like .939 percent of shots on goal. McEwen allowed just 1.29 goals per game during the regular season.
Sandelin has continued to star for Hermantown at state, recording five goals through two games, including four against Cathedral Friday.

About the Moose: Following the first two state tournament wins in program history, MAML holds a record of 22-6-1, the best mark in program history. The Moose finished tied for third in the Mississippi 8 this season with marquee wins against Buffalo and Rogers in the conference and against Orono out of conference. MAML finished the season as the 14th-ranked team in Class A, their highest showing of the season.
The Moose outscored opponents by a wide margin this season, totaling 112 goals for to just 64 goals against. The second period was MAML’s strongest, as they outscored opponents 48-28. The Moose scored 15 power play goals, connecting on 25 percent of opportunities this season. They allowed the exact same percentage to opponents. In postseason play, MAML has outscored opponents by a 19-2 margin.
MAML has been paced all season by the top line, and the story remained the same through section play. During the regular season, junior centerman Ben Ward led the Moose with 57 points, leading MAML in both goals (23) and assists (34). His senior winger Nick Zwack finished second with 46 points and 20 goals, while sophomore winger Troy Dahlheimer was third on the team with 35 points. Second line winger Casey Chiodo was third on the team with 18 goals during the regular season, leading the team in power play goals. Zwack, Chiodo, and Dahlheimer have all recorded hat tricks already this postseason, while Ward leads the team with 19 postseason points, including 15 assists. The junior has had a hand in 19 of MAML’s 25 postseason goals. Tyler Klatt has been MAML’s primary goaltender all season. The junior had a very solid season in net, allowing just 2.72 goals per game to go with a save percentage of .880. Klatt backed that up with a save percentage of .960 in the section tournament, stopping 48 of 50 shots, then stopped 33 of 35 shots to help carry MAML past Delano Wednesday. The Moose, who put a focus on the forecheck and limiting opponents opportunities, outshot opponents by an impressive 760-548 margin this season.

The Bracket

Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]