2:32 CST --- It's been fun talking hockey with you this afternoon. Tune in to the KBJR6 and Range11 News at Six for some highlights and reaction from today's game! Take care, everyone!
2:31 CST --- It's official. St. Thomas Academy is your 2012 Class A state champion. Hermantown finishes the season as runners-up for the third straight year. The Hawks drop to (30-1) this season with the loss.
2:24 CST --- Hawks go on the penalty kill with about four minutes left. Great season for the boys, unfortunately they will fall one game short again.
2:18 CST --- With less than eight minutes left now, the Hawks need a spark and quick. They look flat and defeated already, though.
2:16 CST --- Matt Mensinger takes out some anger on a Cadey crashing the net. This has to be frustrating for Hermantown after the season they've had.
2:13 CST --- First TV timeout and there is no change in the score. The uphill climb continues for the Hawks.
2:06 CST --- STA is playing the first part of this period very smart. Get pucks deep, maintain offensive pressure, and get three guys back on defense. If they don't make a couple mistakes, the Hawks may have trouble.
2:04 CST --- You have to figure Hermantown needs one, maybe two, before the 10 minute mark of this period to have a shot at a comeback. The clock is not their friend.
2:03 CST --- Third period underway. 17 minutes from glory for one of these two teams.
1:56 CST --- There is a reason only eight teams since 1954 have finished with perfect seasons. If Hermantown wants to be number nine, they need to play a perfect, and I mean perfect, third period.
1:50 CST --- The state tournament is a battle of attrition with three games in four days, and Hermantown seems to be losing that battle right now.
1:50 CST --- It seems that STA has been a step faster all game long, and that has led to better scoring chances in open spots.
1:49 CST --- 5-1 Cadets leading after two periods. Honestly, I don't see the Hawks scoring four or more in the third, but stranger things have happened in the hockey world.
1:44 CST --- Hermantown kills off a two-minute penalty. That is the first time all tournament STA has not scored on the power play. Great success all season for the Cadets with the man-advantage.
1:39 CST --- That is the first goal STA has allowed all tournament, a span of more than 120 minutes of gameplay.
1:38 CST --- This team is (30-0) for a reason, but they have not been down by five goals this season. Uncharted territory right now for the Hawks.
1:37 CST --- And it pays off for Hermantown! Jared Kolquist the goal for the Hawks, and it's 5-1! They still have about 1:30 left of 5-on-4 hockey, and I think they need to score to make this a game.
1:36 CST --- Here's the break Hermantown needed. Two quick penaties give the Hawks an extended 5-on-3 power play. They don't score here, and it's all but over.
1:34 CST --- It's worth noting that last year Hermantown had a 3-0 lead before losing 5-4 in overtime. Still, 5-0 is more than 3-0.
1:33 CST --- 5-0 St. Thomas Academy! Another goal in this second period, and the Cadets appear as if nothing can stop them at this point!
1:30 CST --- Finally back to my computer and it's 4-0 STA. Wow, two goals in a matter of less than 20 seconds, and this game has changed dramatically.
12:55 CST --- 2-0 at the end of the first in favor of the Cadets. I'm going to step away here for the intermission, but I'll be back for the second period!
12:52 CST --- Good kill for the Cadets. They never really allowed Hermantown to set up on that power play.
12:50 CST --- Penalty to STA, and a great chance for Hermantown to cut this lead in half and gain some confidence going into the second.
12:47 CST --- STA is very well-coached and may not allow the kind of goals Hermantown is used to scoring. Time to get some ugly goals.
12:46 CST --- If I am on the Hermantown bench, I say we need to start throwing pucks at the net and creating traffic in front of the STA goaltender. Make him uncomfortable and good things will happen.
12:43 CST --- Thomas again creates another scoring chance for Hermantown, but no one could get to the rebound just laying in front of the crease.
12:41 CST --- To be honest, I didn't see this game going like this. STA up 2-0 at the second TV timeout, and Hermantown really showing no signs of life. Weird sequence.
12:40 CST --- STA has allowed zero goals in this state tournament. The Hawks have a big mountain to climb right now, and they can't fall further behind.
12:38 CST --- 2-0 Cadets on a wide open chance in front of goal. Mensinger would like that one back. He got beat five-hole when he absolutely should not have.
12:37 CST --- If forced to classify them, I would label both these teams as finesse/skill teams. We have already seen today, though, that they can be physical as well.
12:35 CST --- Jared Thomas with a chance for the Hawks, and he almost caught the STA goaltender napping. The old addage holds true, a shot on goal is never a bad play.
12:32 CST --- Important couple shifts now for Hermantown. They don't necessarily need to score, but they do need to establish some control in the game.
12:30 CST --- STA strikes first! That was kind of an unlucky boune for Hawks goaltender Matt Mensinger, who looked to control the rebound the way he wanted, but righ to the stick of the Cadets' Matt Perry.
12:28 CST --- Great crowd at the Xcel Energy Center for this game. I am really excited to see the draw for tonight's Class AA title game.
12:26 CST --- Puck has been dropped. Let's play hockey, fellas.
12:18 CST --- STA keeps their helmets on for introductions. Sign they are ready to play? Well, kind of takes away some fun for us on the monitors.
12:17 CST --- Seriously, pay attention while these guys are introduced. It'll provide a chuckle or two.
12:16 CST --- One of the fun things about the state tournament is the hairstyles from all the teams. Neither one of these teams went crazy, but I'll give the edge in pure flow to Hermantown.
12:15 CST --- That said, the last team to go undefeated was Hermantown in 2007 with a (29-0-2) record. The last team to win a state title with no losses and no ties was Red Wing in 1997.
12:12 CST --- Alright, let's talk about records. Hermantown is (30-0) this season. STA is (25-5). Logic tells you to pick the Hawks in this one, right?
12:06 CST --- I was really impressed with the resolve of the Hawks on semifinal Friday. They went down 2-1 in the third period, and I wasn't sure they had the mental toughness to get back on top. They did. Very impressive last 10 minutes from Hermantown.
12:03 CST --- Thomas came up HUGE in the semifinals for Hermantown, scoring two goals, inlcuding the game-winner midway through the third period.
12:00 CST --- The obvious, yet key, matchup to watch is Hermantown forward Jared Thomas versus STA defenseman Eric Schurhamer. Both are Mr. Hockey finalists in the state of Minnesota.
11:59 CST --- The Cadets have never won back-to-back titles, so that would be a first for their school after having won the championship last season.
11:58 CST --- For Hermantown, this would their second state championship. For STA, it would be their fourth.
11:54 CST --- To clarify, this is the Hawks' third straight appearance in the Class A state championship and second straight against STA.
11:50 CST --- Hermantown head coach Bruce Plante said the Hawks played their best game of the season last year against the Cadets in the title game...and lost. They will certainly need their best effort today to bring home the school's second title.
11:48 CST --- Both played strong defensive games to earn a one-goal win in the semifinals. I would expect another tight game in the final, but it certainly has the potential to open up in terms of scoring.
11:46 CST --- These two teams have confirmed the overwhelming belief that they are the best two Class A teams in the tourney. Their semifinal games brought out the best in their play.
11:40 CST --- This, as you may know, is a rematch of last year's state title game between Hermantown and St. Thomas Academy. The Cadets won that one in thrilling fashion, 5-4 in overtime.
11:39 CST --- We are still about 20 minutes away from hearing the starting lineups at the X, but there is already a lot of anticipation in the arena for this title matchup.
11:37 CST --- Welcome hockey fans! If you are like me, you have been up for a couple hours already on this championship Saturday. Sleep just isn't possible on a morning like this in Minnesota!