Spring in Minnesota means one thing and one thing only, it’s tourney time! It’s a special time of year where Hermantown makes the 150 mile trip to the Xcel Energy Center to play hockey with 15 other high school teams. For the last decade, the Hawks have been a staple of the Class A tournament. As sure as the Vikings will miss important field goals, Hermantown will be at The X. Since 2010, Hermantown has missed just one year, raised the championship trophy twice, taken second place SEVEN times, and mixed in a third-place for good measure.
As Impressive As EverThis year, Hermantown has been every bit as good as their reputation dictates. Through a schedule made up of largely AA schools and conference opponents, they’ve amassed a 19-1 record. Their only loss? To the Class AA Grand Rapids Thunderhawks. In the Section 7A conference playoffs, the Hawks outscored their opponents 20-1 on their way to another #1 seed. In the revised playoff format for this year, they’re scheduled to take on an impressive team in Dodge County on Tuesday. A relatively unknown team making their first appearance at the tourney, but one with the state’s top scorer. Cue the dramatic music.
Late on Monday, news broke that the varsity team members would not be eligible for play due to contact tracing related to a March 23rd matchup with Virginia. Some would call that a gut-punch, but a swift kick to the dick is probably closer to how it feels for the kids. Unfortunately, this is not unusual for 2021. The Centennial Girls team had to forfeit before their tournament even started and the Lakeville North girl’s Basketball team had their playoff games forfeited for the same reason. Hermantown isn’t the only one who’s dealing with it this year either. Hill Murray, the number two seed in Class AA is trying to figure out their eligibility after a close contact scenario as well. Some conspiracy theorists online have taken note that it’s the widely-hated and high-seeded teams that have been in contact with teams or players who may have been exposed.
History Repeats Itself?In an eerily similar story, a high school team in Michigan known for being an annual powerhouse was hit with Covid restrictions for it’s varsity players. (Spoiler Alert) Their JV squad was able to come in and battle through their next two regional finals games to keep their playoff hopes and season alive. The article is certainly worth a read, and I won’t spoil how it went from there. If Hermantown wants to advance, they’ll have to do the same thing in an uphill battle on the biggest stage in the state.
The tourney will have already started by the time of this publication, and if you’re any sort of hockey fan you’ll be tuning in to watch it here. Best of luck to all of the high schools and players who are taking part in the tournament. I’m looking forward to seeing more insane flow, classic games, and kids pulling out the celly’s they’ve been practicing on the ODR all year long. I know you missed the Frandsen Bank & Trust ads (not a sponsor) and seeing Mike McGraw’s tiny glasses as much as I did. Welcome back.
UPDATE:The already wild story has taken a turn. Hill Murray has filed for a restraining order to allow their impacted varsity players to participate in the tournament. Can you imagine that…a team with Hill Murray’s reputation resorting to a lawsuit so quickly? I, for one, am absolutely shocked. According to state rules they wouldn’t be allowed to play until Thursday, 1 week after their exposure to the team that had been impacted. Their opponent (Wayzata) already agreed to play on Thursday if the state would be flexible. As much as I joke, you love to see that kind of tenacity and confidence out of the young hockey players and I hope all the players get the opportunity they’ve earned. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out!
I’ve been hit by cars three times, which is an indication of how stubborn I am.
I write about everything across the board, but focus on Hockey and the pain that is Minnesota sports.
Argue with me on Twitter: @venividiveech