Jon Krawczynski / AP Sports Writer, Published March 13 2010
Minnesota stste boys hockey 1A championship: Morin, Breck claim 1A titleST. PAUL – Late in the third period of the Class 1A boys state hockey title game, Breck forward Mike Morin thought the Mustangs’ chance at history was slipping away.
Hermantown was dominating the action as the powerful Mustangs have rarely seen all season, and Morin wasn’t sure how things were going to turn around.
“I had that pit at the bottom of my stomach,” Morin said. “I was like, oh man, these guys are pressuring us.”
Then, with 1:40 to play and the game tied, the puck took a goofy bounce off Morin’s shin pad and past Hermantown goalie Tyler Ampe to lift the Mustangs to a 2-1 victory, making them the first team to repeat as state champions in 16 years.
Morin rushed into the zone and split defenders before Hawks defenseman Jeff Paczynski swiped the puck away, a textbook play in that situation. But the puck ricocheted off Morin’s shin pad and slipped through Ampe’s five-hole.
“We’ve scored so many goals this season,” Breck coach Les Larson said. “For it to come down to hitting a shin pad and going in, the irony of that is overwhelming in itself.”
The last team to repeat as state champions was Bloomington Jefferson in 1992, 1993 and 1994.
Riley Borer also scored for Breck (29-2-0) and John Russell made 30 saves.
Chad Bannor scored for Hermantown (27-4-0), which outplayed the Mustangs for most of the game before Morin’s goal.
“It makes you wonder how come they got the break,” Hermantown coach Bruce Plante said. “That’s the thing. What did they deserve the break for? Our kids worked their (tails) off to get here and then they get the break.”
The Hawks outshot powerful Breck 31-20 for the game and spent most of the final 17 minutes in the Mustangs’ zone, putting pressure on the top-seeded private school from the Minneapolis suburb of Golden Valley.
But Russell stood tall in goal, and Morin took advantage of the flukey bounce to allow the Mustangs to escape with the victory. It was their fourth state title in school history.
“When we got here everyone was saying repeat, could they do it?” Russell said. “We tried not to think about it much. Now that we did it, it’s amazing. Think of the best feeling in the world and multiply it by 10 and that’s maybe half of how good this feels.”
The Hawks needed a little luck of their own to get to this game.
Hermantown overcame two-goal deficits twice in the third period of its thrilling semifinal victory over Mahtomedi.
Mahtomedi’s Charlie Adams beat Ampe with a wrist shot at the buzzer of regulation, but the horn sounded a split-second before the puck hit the net, and Jared Thomas won it for the Hawks, 7-6, in overtime.
Try as they might, the Hawks couldn’t come up with the same magic on Saturday and capture their second state title.
Bannor put the Hawks on the board first after an interference penalty against Breck’s Michael Mooney. The puck trickled to him at the point and he zipped a wrist shot that sailed past Russell into the corner of the net for a 1-0 lead in the first period.
The Mustangs, who trailed Warroad 1-0 in the first period of the semifinals before rallying to a 4-2 victory, tied it up in the second period when Borer pounced on a rebound off the blocker of Ampe.
Hermantown’s Kevin Danielson hit the post with a wrist shot with 11:34 to play in the game. The Hawks had another chance with just under eight minutes to go when Jared Kolquist tapped in a rebound, but officials had blown a quick whistle a moment earlier that nullified it.
That set up a back-and-forth final half of the third period, with both goalies coming up with huge saves to keep the game tied.
Russell stopped Thomas right on the doorstep after a brilliant pass from Charlie Comnick and then a one-timer from Cody Christopherson a minute later.
“What a luxury to have a guy like him in net,” Larson said. “He saves us.”
Ampe responded by thwarting a breakaway by Wesley Iverson, but he was surprised by the bounce off Morin’s stick a few minutes later, and it slipped past him for the game-winner.
“I thought we deserved to win that game,” Plante said. “We played well enough to win.”
NOTES: Warroad beat Mahtomedi 5-4 in triple overtime for third place. ... The All-Tournament team consisted of Morin, Russell, Tyson Fulton and Ben Gislason of Breck; Paczynski, Kolquist and Comnick of Hermantown; Brock Nelson, Brett Hebel and Andy Foster of Warroad; and Ben Marshall and Brandon Zurn of Mahtomedi.