An unusual call
The Moose were the beneficiaries of one of the more unlikely penalty calls seen in a hockey game. Northfield was penalized in the first minute of play during the semifinal round for a skater playing with the goaltender’s stick. The goalie lost his stick with the puck in the zone, and a defensive player handed his stick over. The defenseman then went to get the goalie’s stick and bring it back to the netminder. But with play still in the zone, the netminder wasn’t ready to switch and the defenseman turned and started playing with the large piece of lumber, resulting in an automatic penalty.
Fans come out in full force
MAML fans packed the stands all postseason, and especially so at the state tournament. For Friday and Saturday’s games, Moose fans took up at least four full sections at the Xcel Energy Center on their own.
The student section itself filled nearly an entire section, and those that wanted the best seats had to get there early. Monti fans posted videos on social media Friday morning that showed them sitting in the Xcel lobby more than three hours before puck drop. A video taken by Monticello teacher Jared Hines showed fans sprinting through the aisles of the X to their seats when the doors finally opened.
Several channel 45 commentators brought it up during the course of the weekend, and Moose players were asked about it after each game.
“To wake up and see pictures on whatever social media of people lined up to get those front row spots, it’s incredible,” said Nick Zwack after the semifinal win against Northfield. “We had those lines packed. It’s fun to be able to have that pride. It’s something special.”
Nelson credited the players for bringing so many fans together this season.
“They’ve done such an unbelievable job of sucking in their peers, and bringing the fan base to Moose Sherritt Ice Arena and now down to the state tournament,” he said. “I can’t thank them enough. It broadens the horizon. Little brothers and sisters see it and they might wanna play hockey because look at the atmosphere that’s going on here.”
“The support today was unbelievable,” Nelson went on to say following the championship game. “It sucks to be on the losing end of it but when you look up in the fans and know that win, lose or draw you got a fan base that supports you – it gives you maybe a little bit of comfort.”
Monticello teacher and football coach Jason Telecky struck a chord among the Moose fan base with his tweet following MAML’s 3-2 upset of a Delano High School team with three Division I hockey players.
“What a great game Moose! Lots of hype about DHS w/3 D1 players. MAML have 3 too. Zwack (Baseball), Voller (Track), Chiodo (LAX). Multi sport!!!”
The tweet, clearly encouraging athletes to focus on more than one sport, drew 32 retweets and 132 likes on Twitter.
An “iconic” new cheer
MHS student Keenan Macki led a new cheer at Moose games this week that became incredibly popular, not just with Moose fans but with a number of others as well. The cheer involved Macki thumping on a drum, while Moose fans clapped in unison above their heads. It made for quite the scene at the X.
“That Moose chant – that’s become iconic this week,” said Charlie Voller. “You get off the ice, you hear chants that are going, and you really realize how big this is.”
The Moose were certainly one of the most popular subjects of the state tournament, starting from the conclusion of their first game. MAML Coach Eric Nelson drew plenty of chatter for his lucky cat shirt that he started wearing this January and revealed to the press on Wednesday afternoon. He also made an appearance on WCCO Radio Thursday morning, and the Moose were the lone team to have highlights shown on the CBS Morning Show Thursday.
Players and coaches noticed plenty of fanfare throughout the weekend as well, and not just from those who traveled to the X from Monticello, Annandale, or Maple Lake.
“It’s a fun experience to walk around, around the X or even outside the X,” said Nelson. “They look at your jacket … nobody ever looks at your face around here it’s all where you from, what jacket are you wearing? When they see it’s the Moose, and we were battling and we were inspiring some teams to play a little bit harder … it’s pretty awesome to walk around and see that.”
“It’s crazy. We’re basically royalty down here,” said Voller, after the tournament. “Down here we’re treated great on the streets. After what we’ve put up over the week, people know the Moose – they know Monticello, they know Annandale, they know Maple Lake – they know where we’re from. It’s pretty cool.”
Fans follow from everywhere
Based solely off Twitter replies, Moose fans were following Saturday’s state championship game from at least this many places, and probably many more: Alexandria, MN; Loveland, CO; Cancun, Mexico; Rogers, MN; Toronto, Canada; Michigan; Waverly, MN; Victoria, MN; Reno, NV; Colorado; Duluth, MN; and Roseville, MN.
Call it “The Voller”
Moose senior Charlie Voller hit the state hockey trifecta this weekend. Voller won the Class A Herb Brooks Award, made it on the Class A All Tournament Team, and made an appearance in the famed All-Hockey Hair video.
While no Moose player made it into the hockey hair Top-10, several got love during the montage portions of the video including Voller, Jaden Jarmuzek, Nick Zwack, Jack Saunders, and Ben Ward.
Perks of fame
MAML took advantage of playing on television all weekend, and the extra breaks that come with it. There were a few television timeouts each period for commercial breaks, which allowed players to get considerably more rest than they would in a regular game. That gave Nelson the option of using his top-two lines a lot more than he may have been able to otherwise.
“TV timeouts are obviously huge for us, to get them a little more rest,” he said after the Northfield game.
During the broadcast of that same contest, Mark Parrish, a former NHLer and a 45TV analyst this weekend, commended Nelson for taking advantage of the breaks.
“No coach in the tournament has used the TV timeouts better than Eric Nelson,” he said.
Penalty kill comes up clutch
The Moose were picture-perfect on the penalty kill all postseason. Dating back to the final game of the regular season, the Moose killed 20 consecutive opposing power play opportunities. And not only did MAML hold opponents off the scoresheet with a man-advantage, they scored three short-handed goals in the postseason as well.
Saturday’s game brought not just an end to the season but the end to a whole lot of great MAML careers. In total, the Moose will say goodbye to 11 seniors on the varsity roster. Those seniors are Jaden Jarmuzek, Mason Kapphahn, Casey Chiodo, Tanner Mros, Honza Stibingr, Nick Zwack, Charlie Voller, Dylan Fyle, Noah Lanka, Wyatt Willenbring, and Ben Ingersoll.
An emotional Chiodo reflected on his hockey career Saturday afternoon, from the concrete halls of the Xcel Energy Center.
“I’m just having memories of like when I was five playing,” he said. “After the game I wasn’t really as sad about not winning, I was more sad that I’m done playing forever. It’s kind of sad to me that I’ll never throw the jersey on again.”
Shocking for a reason
Coming into this year’s tournament, higher-seeded teams were 38-2 in first-round matchups, including 20-0 for Top-2 seeds. And it has rarely been close. Last year, unseeded teams lost their three games by a combined 25-4 in the opening round. Even the semifinal round was 11-1 in favor of the top seeds last year. Two years ago unseeded teams were outscored 18-3, and 16-6 the year before that.
This year, aided by MAML and Northfield’s first-round upsets, unseeded teams outscored the top-three seeds by an 8-6 margin in the first round.
Best Class A Tourney ever
Along those same lines, there was little doubt by Saturday afternoon that fans had just witnessed and players had just partaken in the best Class A Tournament of all time.
Out of the seven games played in the championship bracket, three went to overtime. Two more were decided by one goal, including one that was won with just three seconds left. And in the semifinal round and championship game the winner had to battle back from a third-period deficit.
And it concluded with a game that KSTP’s Joe Schmit deemed on-air an “instant classic.”
“The Single A title game was phenomenal,” he told viewers during the Class AA Championship broadcast. “It was one of the best games ever played here in St. Paul at the state tournament.”
Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]