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Alexandria strikes first but Hermantown feeds off defense in Class A semifinal win

The Hawks allowed an early goal, but locked down defensively and allowed just six shots the rest of the game.

Hermantown scores three in first period against Alexandria in Class A state hockey semifinal
Hermantown forward Max Plante (26) scores a goal against Alexandria defenseman Henry Ramstorf (16) and Alexandria defenseman Jack Lamski (2) on Friday, March 11, 2022, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

ST. PAUL — Hermantown is only one win away from accomplishing its season-long goal of winning a state championship after blowing past Alexandria 7-1 in the Class A semifinal Friday at the Xcel Energy center in St. Paul.

Two minutes into the game, however, things weren’t going as planned for the Hawks.

The Cardinals’ Tyler Kludt put their first shot past Hermantown’s Dane Callaway, giving Alexandria an early 1-0 lead.

“We felt good coming into the game, we felt that we still had a chance against the No. 1 team in the state,” Kludt said. “I was talking to Joe Gronholz right off the face-off and I just told him to win it back. He felt confident in that and I just saw an opening on the top right.”

Instead of giving Alexandria some momentum, the goal woke up Hermantown and the rest of the game belonged to the Hawks.

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“It was kind of an eye-opener for us,” Hawks forward Gavin Blomdahl said. “It felt like we got punched in the mouth and the other guys rallied around each other. We started playing more as a team, picking each other up and doing what a team should do.”

Hermantown vs Alexandria_0525.jpg
Hermantown players celebrate a goal against Alexandria during the second period Friday, March 11, 2022, in the State Boys Hockey Tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

After the early slip-up, the Hawks defense clamped down and scored seven straight goals to clinch a spot in the state title game Saturday.

After the early goal, the Hermantown defense allowed just two shots between the 15 minute mark of the first period and when the game went to running time 2 minutes into the third period.

“They were phenomenal,” Hermantown coach Pat Andrews said. “We’ve talked about this many times, but our D is the strength of our team — team D and our defensemen. Not giving away zones, tight gaps, tight gaps, we preach that. Then turn it over in transition and go, that’s what drives our offense.”

Josh Kauppinen scored the first Hermantown goal at the 9:44 mark of the first period and Ty Hanson gave the Hawks the lead 2 minutes later.

With just 56 seconds left in the first period, Hermantown took full control of the game when Zam Plante faked a shot and made a 360-degree turn and found Kade Kohanski on the other side of the net for the score.

Hermantown scores three in first period against Alexandria in Class A state hockey semifinal
Hermantown students wave goodbye to Alexandria players and fans during the Class A state hockey semifinal game on Friday, March 11, 2022, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

The Hawks were 3-for-4 on opportunities with a man advantage, with Hanson, Kohanski and Max Plante all scoring power play goals.

Alexandria coach Josh Meyers knew Alexandria would have to play its best hockey to stay with the Hawks, but they were unable to limit mistakes and Hermantown capitalized.

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“It was not a good day not not bring your A-game,” Meyers said. “We did not execute things very well and took some bad penalties early on that gave them a lot of momentum. We were able to strike first, which was one of our keys to the game…We needed to execute, really minimize our mistakes and if I look through all the goals that were scored, I guarantee that I can find mistakes we made before the goal was score and that’s the difference.”

Callaway made six saves for Hermantown and Teagen Pfeffer had 35 saves for Alexandria.

Hermantown will play Warroad in the Class A final at noon Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Warriors got an overtime goal from Matt Hard to advance past Mahtomedi with a 5-4 win in the other semifinal.

Alexandria 1-0-0—1

Hermantown 3-3-1—7

First period — 1. A, Tyler Kludt (Josiah Gronholz), 2:09; 2. H, Josh Kauppinen (Dominic Thomas, Matt Kauppinen), 9:44; 3. H, Ty Hanson (Kade Kohanski, Max Plante), 11:47 (pp); 4. H, Kohanski (Zam Plante, Hanson), 15:04 (pp).

Second period — 5. H, Gavin Blomdahl (J. Kauppinen, Thomas), 5:56; 6. H, M. Plante (Dallas View, Z. Plante), 13:12 (pp); 7. H, Vieau, 16:24.

Third period — 8. H, Thomas (Hanson, J. Kauppinen), 2:04.

Saves — A, Teagan Pfeffer 35; H, Dane Callaway 6.

PHOTO GALLERY (swipe/click arrows to view)

Follow the Minnesota boys hockey postseason with state tournament information and brackets from every section.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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