By John Lauritsen

LUVERNE, Minn. (WCCO) — The state hockey tournament is what every high school hockey player dreams about; a glorious tradition in the state of hockey.

And it’s a tradition that the town of Luverne has never been a part of, until Wednesday.

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The town of 4,700 turned out in full, including Mayor Patrick Baustian, who led cheers instead of leading the government.

“I got a mayor pro-tem,” Baustian said. “She’s taking care of business down there (in Luverne).”

Principal Ryan Johnson came along, too. It was an easy decision since school was closed.

“We knew that there’s a lot of kids that are going to be coming up here anyway, so we thought let’s call it off and let’s enjoy the time here and be able to support our team,” Johnson said.

That meant Dalton Vickery was in charge on Wednesday. He’s the leader of the student cheer section, which didn’t have much to cheer about in the early going, when Luverne gave up a goal in the opening minute.

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“They came out here, knowing that we’re going against a good team,” he said. “But they’re going to play hard.”

Sophomore Gunnar Olson scored twice to give the student section some life. But in the end, Hermantown had too much talent and experience.

Luverne’s unbeaten season was over, but nothing will erase their memories.

“It’s a big deal for a little town, a small rural town in southwest Minnesota,” Baustian said.

Luverne lost 6-3, but will play at least one more game in the consolation bracket. And the future’s bright for the team because one of their top players is only an eighth grader.

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He’s being heavily recruited by the Gophers and all the other top college teams.

John Lauritsen