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Published March 09 2012

Hermantown escapes with win against Thief River Falls at state hockey

ST. PAUL – Seeing and hearing are so different for a goaltender.

Thief River Falls’ Jon Narverud would know. He thought he saw a puck going wide, but the loud cheers told Narverud something else.

Hermantown’s Jared Thomas fired a shot that went off a skate, beating Narverud with 5 minutes, 15 seconds left in third period in a 3-2 win over Thief River Falls on Friday in the semifinal round of the Minnesota Class 1A state boys hockey tournament.

“There’s really not much you can do about it,” said Narverud, who made 20 saves in the loss. “You can’t sit there and think about it either.”

TRF (23-5-2) now advances to the third-place game for the second straight year. It will face Breck, which lost to TRF last season to open the tournament.

Hermantown (30-0) advances to today’s state title game, where it will face defending state champ St. Thomas Academy. Should Hermantown win, it will become the first undefeated state champion since Red Wing in 1997.

Thief River Falls hasn’t won a title since 1956.

The Prowlers came back from a 1-0 hole to start the third, taking a 2-1 lead just six minutes into the frame.

Logan Engelstad, who is related to the late casino magnate and University of North Dakota booster Ralph Engelstad, scored the go-ahead goal after a puck bounced off the crossbar and right into his clutches.

“It definitely felt like things were starting to turn,” Engelstad said about the goal. “The momentum was going our way, but they kept fighting back.”

Considering Hermantown has been the favorite all season to win state, it wasn’t going to be easy.

The Hawks tied the game less than a minute after Engelstad’s goal.

Hermantown continued to keep attacking, throwing shots on net that Narverud seemed to stop.

Thomas, a Mr. Hockey candidate, was off the right side of the boards when he threw the puck near the net.

It slid across the ice, appearing to go off target when it bounced off the skate of Prowlers defenseman Riley Olson and into the net.

“It’s disappointing or any adjective that describes that,” said Prowlers coach Tim Bergland. “We’ve had a great year and a great run.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1. H, Thomas (Kolquist, Mattson), 6:34

SECOND PERIOD: No scoring.

THIRD PERIOD: 2. TRF, Odberg (Soderstrom), 4:08 3. TRF, Engelstad (Nessen), 5:16 4. H, Kolquist (Lord, Amys), 6:15 5. H, Thomas (Mattson, Benson), 11:45

SAVES: TRF, Narverud 10-7-3 20 saves; H, Mensinger 5-4-2 11 saves

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.

Clark’s Force blog can be found at slightlychilled.areavoices.com