ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Taylor Fleming’s shot clanked against the post and deflected into the net to give St. Thomas Academy a 5-4 win over Hermantown on Saturday for the state high school Class A hockey title.
The Cadets (25-6-0) trailed 3-0 in the first period before rallying to tie and force overtime. It was their third state championship in six seasons, with titles in 2006 and 2008. They wore suits and ties to the rink all week, saying they were on a business trip, and would not relax until it was done. After the game they were more casual, wearing their jerseys in the post-game press conference.
“We closed the deal,” said Cadets forward A.J. Reid, who scored once in the title game. “Right now I’m so excited I don’t want to ever take my jersey off. It’s my last year, and the last shot got it done, so the business trip is over.”
Andrew Mattson and Jared Thomas each scored twice for the Hawks (25-4-2), who finished as runners-up for the second year in a row.
“That’s a pretty big task for us to take this team on, and this team battled right through it and worked as hard as they could. What can you do?” said Hawks coach Bruce Plante. “We were hoping for some puck luck there. A little bounce of the puck would’ve been nice for us. But it didn’t happen.”
After rallying from deficits of 3-0 and 4-2 to tie the game, the Cadets survived an overtime penalty, then won when Fleming’s shot from the blue line found its way through a crowd, off the right post, and past Hawks goalie Connor Lucas. Lucas had 41 saves in the loss, while Cadets goalie David Zevnik had 29 saves.
The Hawks looked like they wouldn’t need much luck early on.
Hermantown took an early lead, scoring on a controversial play where Zevnik was knocked down in the crease. Thomas chased his own rebound and snapped it past the goalie. Mattson scored just 39 seconds later, with an assist from Thomas. And with 10 minutes still to play in the first, Thomas scored again, giving the Hawks an unexpected 3-0 lead.
“From the beginning they had a good game plan,” said Cadets co-head coach Tom Vannelli. “They knew if they got on the board first, it’s a different hockey game. And when they go up two, three, wow, it was game on. The good news is we had a lot of time to do it.”
The Cadets climbed back into the game with 25.9 seconds left in the opening period when Andrew Commers scored a short-handed goal.
Trailing 4-2 later, the Cadets got goals from Reid and Commers to force overtime.
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