COVID-Shortened 2021 Season Fuels Latest Run to the State Tournament for Hermantown Hockey Team

Puck drop Wednesday night against New Prague is set for 6 p.m. at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

HERMANTOWN, Minn. – If you show up to a Hermantown hockey practice, you’ll hear one phrase said a lot: control what you can control. That mantra became even more prevalent after how last season ended for the Hawks, which has added fuel to the fire for their latest run to the Class A state tournament.

Last season, just two days after their section title win, Hermantown head coach Patrick Andrews was notified during practice that due to a positive COVID exposure during their section semi-final game against Virginia/MIB, the entire varsity squad was ineligible to compete at the state tournament.

“My stomach was upside down. And then I had to go run another 45 minutes of practice and pretend like everything was fine. You know in life or something bad happens and your mind’s going 100 miles an hour and you’re just like going through the motions and you have like all these thoughts in your mind and you’re not really present? That’s how it was like. I was not present. It was a bad experience,” Andrews said.

Andrews would confirm the news and then contact his players to tell them what he learned.

“I feel like the day before and the practice of, we heard rumors floating around about the whole COVID deal. You can see in Coach’s face that something changed. Then at the end of practice, he pulled us aside told us the bad news. It was just silence for a good half hour and it sucked,” team captain Beau Janzig said.

“I was at physical therapy because I had a bad shoulder. And Joey Pierce, our captain, called me 38 times. So when I got out, I checked my phone I was like, ‘oh no. what’s going on?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah you got to get to the rink right now. We got to practice with the JV boys’. And I was like, ‘this is really bad’,” junior forward Zam Plante said.

“You felt horrible for those guys. They’d sacrificed so much and a lot of them had given up a lot to come back and chase the dream and win in that championship and it was torn away,” Andrews said.

The JV squad would end up playing in the quarterfinals but fall to Dodge County. The whole experience would stick in the minds of the Hawks who would return the following season.

“For me coming in to the season, I really wanted to make it a goal of mine to win this state tournament for the seniors that we had last year just because they didn’t get the opportunity to go all the way,” said assistant captain Dominic Thomas.

“That’s been a huge motivator for us. And it’s taken very few reminders with this group to get them back on track,” Andrews said.

Puck drop Wednesday night against New Prague is set for 6 p.m. at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Categories: High School, Sports