The Hermantown Hawks continued to show their third period dominance by scoring two goals in the final frame to up end the Warroad Warriors 4-3 Friday afternoon here in St. Paul. Hawks winger Ryan Schmidt scored the game winner 7:05 into the third period. Joe Krause was credited with the only assist on the goal.
Hermantown (28-0-1) won their 16th game in a row. Their lone tie was to Duluth Marshall, who the Hawks will face in Saturday's final. The road to the final was more than a bit bumpy for Hermantown, however. Warroad senior forward Dane Shaugabay scored twice in the first period to lift the Warriors to a 2-0 lead at the first intermission. The only bounce that went the Hawks way in the first period was that of the replay booth. A goal that would have made it 3-0 was disallowed due to a skate-in-the-crease rule violation.
"I don't even know the rules...we play in these little dinky rinks in the Northland," said Hermantown coach Bruce Plante when asked about the replay factor that worked in his team's favor twice on Friday.
Drew LaBlanc got the Hawks on the board midway through the second period, but Warroad's Aaron Marvin answered 50 seconds later pushing the Warrior lead back to two. The next few minutes were wasted away as both teams played sloppy hockey. The poor play ceased when Matt Engelmeier stretched the net for Hermantown. The goal, at 13:13, made the score 3-2, and put the Hawks back in the game.
The third period promised good hockey when, just three minutes in, Joe Krause scored to tie the game 3-3. Schmidt's game winner came four minutes later on a pass from Krause that traveled directly in front of Warrior goalie Jake Vatnsdal. The pass hit Schmidt on the stick, but the angle seemed to steep to score. Nonetheless, Schmidt flung the puck at the net and found some room to get the rubber through.
What does Hermantown need to do to win the title? "We gotta play good 'D' and we gotta get goaltending for sure. They're (Duluth Marshall) a high octane offense," says Plante.