Grand Rapids, Hermantown Excited for State Berths

Thunderhawks in 1st Tourney Since 2007, Hermantown in 7th Straight

In Minnesota, March Madness starts with the Boys’ State High School Hockey Tournament.

This year, Section 7 is represented by one team With plenty of experience, and another re–establishing a tradition.

In Class AA, Grand Rapids ended Duluth East’s seven year run as section champs, to earn the school’s first state berth since 2007.

The Thunderhawks, were given the fifth seed and will face off against 4th seed Bemidji High School in Thursday’s fourth quarterfinal, set for an 8:00 p.m. puck drop.

The AA field is without perrenial powers Edina, Hill–Murray, and Duluth East.

Rapids senior Alex Adams’ winning goal kept the Greyhounds away from St. Paul.

“To finally pull off the big upset over Duluth East in the section championship, it’s unreal,” said Adams.  “It feels great.”

“You can’t walk through a section tournament by accident and get in,” said Thunderhawks coach Trent Klatt.  “Whether they’re a favorite that should get in, or someone who upends somebody, everybody is going to be good.  It’s going to be a great tournament.”

Meanwhile, the Class A field has a very familiar face at the top.

Hermantown is in the school’s seventh straight State Tournament, the last six ended with 2nd place finishes.

The Hawks are the top seed and face off with Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato, Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.

Bruce Plante and his Hawks have another chance to skate away with the big prize.  Senior Cole Keopke says he’s glad the run didn’t stop with his class.

“That was something that was never talked about, but it’s in the back of your mind,” said Keopke.  “To keep the streak alive is great.”

“What’s really special to me is to see these kids go,” said Plante.  “Some of them went last year, but there’s a whole group of kids that get to do it for the first time.  That really thrills me a lot.”

The 2016 MSHSL Boys State Hockey Tournament starts Wednesday in St. Paul with the Class A quarterfinals, the Class AA quartefinals are Thursday.

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