The boys’ hockey state tournament is in the rear-view mirror, but it won’t be one easily forgotten. Greenway’s run to the Class 1A title game warmed many hearts, and St. Cloud Cathedral won the first title for the Granite City. Meanwhile, Lake Conference powers Edina and Eden Prairie played a tense, fast-paced Class 2A final, with the Hornets prevailing in overtime. David La Vaque and Randy Johnson discuss what they liked, and what could be improved, in the state tournament.
David: A great tournament needs a better contingency plan for long overtime games. Eden Prairie and Lakeville South were 53 seconds from having their Thursday afternoon quarterfinal suspended until 8 a.m. Friday. Bust your rump for three overtime periods to play twice the next day? The better move is delaying the evening session. Fans don’t come to the Xcel Energy Center unaware of what’s happening, not in the era of smartphones and free, live web streams (nice addition this year, by the way). Order another round or get dessert at the restaurant, then come down. For those fans who do arrive a little early – put the game on a large screen and create a little rooting interest in the lobby. And know this: Friday’s Greenway/Mahtomedi semifinal would have been stopped after three overtimes and finished at 8 a.m. Saturday. The Class 1A title game starts at noon.
Randy: The high school league sure dodged a bullet there, didn’t it? Thanks to Eden Prairie’s Jack Jensen beating the clock with his triple-overtime winner, the oncoming howls of protest became only a what-if scenario. Clearly, the high school league is willing to take the gamble with that policy, which was last used in 1985. This weekend was my first time covering the tournament, and overall I came away impressed. The celebration of 75 years of the tournament struck the right tone, and the revealing of the 75th All-Tournament team was a joy to watch. It sparked debate, and I was having fun just trying to put together a second team in my head. Some people always will quibble about the tournament seedings, but it certainly appeared that the best two teams in each class ended up playing for the championship.
David: The 75th state tournament offered elements of what makes this event a grand tradition. Edina needed overtime to escape a courageous Eden Prairie team and capture state title No. 13 exactly 50 years since its first one. You had tiny Greenway, a proud Iron Range program, packing the lower bowl with fans throughout its three-game run. And St. Cloud Cathedral brought something new, a championship for a great hockey town and an underappreciated hockey region. Stick taps for all.
Randy: Yeah, there’s not much about which to drop the gloves regarding this edition of the state tournament. The event really is one of Minnesota’s treasures, and it played out that way. Already looking forward to the next one.