Blomdahl’s OT goal lifts Hermantown past Warroad
The Hawks’ depth was the difference in the game between the top two Class A teams in Minnesota.
HERMANTOWN — Fifty-one minutes was not enough for Hermantown and Warroad to decide their matchup Saturday in Hermantown.
The two top-ranked Class A boys hockey teams in Minnesota ended the third period tied at one, but the Hawks’ Gavin Blomdahl brought the puck up the right wall with about 6 minutes gone in the extra period and fired a shot past Warriors’ goaltender Hampton Slukynsky to give Hermantown a 2-1 home victory.
Everything happened so fast, Blomdahl didn’t even know the game was over.
“It went in and I didn’t realize it for a second,” Blomdahl said. “I went behind the net and I just got jumped on by a bunch of my teammates.”
The Hawks took an early lead when Matt Kauppinen scored 5:45 into the first period, the first goal Slukynsky had allowed since Dec. 31.
Hermantown looked to extend the lead with a two-man advantage early in the second period, but instead the power play ended with Hawks defenseman Ty Hanson getting a 5-minute major penalty.
Hermantown killed off about half the penalty, but Carson Pilgrim eventually found the back of the net to tie the game.
Hawks’ coach Pat Andrews said allowing just one goal during the extended power play was a turning point for his team. In a similar situation in their loss at Cretin-Derham Hall Dec. 23, Hermantown failed to take advantage of a two-man advantage while allowing two goals during a two-man advantage for the Raiders.
“It was a missed opportunity for us and usually in these big games that comes back to get you, like it did against Cretin,” Andrews said. “But our penalty kill, they battened down the hatches and played great — blocking shots and getting sticks in lanes so in that 5 minutes, they only got one.”
It was a tough loss for Warroad (15-1), but coach Jay Hardwick liked what he saw out of his team.
“I can’t fault the effort, it was a great hockey game and it was one of those days where it doesn’t go your way,” Hardwick said. “But I said, we’ve got eight weeks of this season left, there’s a lot of hockey left, and if we go out and play like that and take care of business, hopefully we get another shot at them.”
Hardwick was particularly happy with the play of Slukynsky, who made 30 saves in the game.
“There’s a reason why I think he’s the best goaltender in the state,” Hardwick said. “He gives us a chance to win every hockey game and makes some great saves. They had some great opportunities — just him and the shooter — and he stands in there and makes it look easy.”
Hawks’ depth is the difference
In a game littered with Division I recruits — including Minnesota Duluth commits Zam Plante and Hanson for Hermantown and Jayson Shaugabay for Warroad — it was the Hawks’ depth that proved to be the difference.
“It was our depth, our third line played great tonight,” Andrews said. “Mattie got the goal but (Dom Thomas) and Chase Sam are two seniors that played outstanding. They just give us that depth and get that momentum to flip it back into their end, and then you get the next line in and it keeps that momentum going.”
Warroad played Friday, winning at Crookston 16-0, but the team spent more than 4 hours on a bus to and from the game and more than 4 hours on the bus to Hermantown today, but Hardwick said that wasn’t an excuse.
“We don’t mind it,” he said. “Living up here in God’s country, we get used to it.”
Hermantown (12-1) will play at Greenway at 7 p.m. Monday.
Warroad is next scheduled to host Duluth Denfeld at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
First period — 1. H, Matt Kauppinen (Chase Sams), 5:45.
Second period — 2. W, Carson Pilgrim (Eric Comstock, Garrett Hennum), 7:23 (pp).
Third period — No scoring.
Overtime — 3. H, Gavin Blomdahl (Beau Janzig, Ty Hanson), 6:32.
Saves — Hampton Slukynsky, W, 30; Dan Callaway, H, 25.
This story originally incorrectly identified a player mentioned by Hermantown boys hockey coach Pat Andrews. Andrews was referencing the play of Dom Thomas.
It was updated at 1:58 p.m. (Jan. 16). The News Tribune regrets the error.