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Saturday, March 9, 2013
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St. Thomas Academy

1A Final: St. Thomas 5, Hermantown 4

By Staff Report
St. Paul, Minn.

There is bad luck, and then there is the luck of the Hermantown Hawks. For the fourth-straight season, Bruce Plante's team fell one victory shy of a state title. And, for the third-straight season, the Hawks could only watch as St. Thomas Academy celebrated a Class A championship with a 5-4 come-from-behind classic Saturday afternoon.
"This is the most difficult loss I've ever had in my life," Plante said.
That's saying a lot as Plante knows heartbreak in state title games. The Hawks lost a 3-0 lead two years ago, eventually losing to the Cadets in overtime. Last year, Plante said his team wasn't ready for St. Thomas, a fact underscored by the Cadets' 5-1 blowout in 2012.
With this year's version of St. Thomas being hailed as the best team in the state, regardless of class, the Hawks would have to play the perfect game in order to win a title.
They were thisclose.
After the Cadets grabbed the early lead on a Matt Perry tally, Chris Benson, Scott Wasbotten and Ryan Kero scored consecutive goals for Hermantown.
And when Perry made it a two-goal game late in the second period, Lane LeGarde answered 37-seconds later.
But the third period got away from the Hawks as the Cadets scored three times in the final frame. Perry completed the hat trick less than 3 minutes into the period, followed by Henry Hart's game-tying tally six minutes later.
But the Hawks still clung to hope, getting the better chances as the clock wound down. But when the scoreboard showed two minutes, everything changed.
Hermantown was called for a hold, giving the mighty St. Thomas power play a chance to take the lead.
It would take nearly the entire time of the penalty, and a missed headlock that Plante said was "obvious," but Tommy Novak would seal the deal with a slapper from the slot.
"I'm so proud of our guys," STA coach Tom Vannelli said. "They had a target on their back all year."
St. Thomas is the fourth school to win three straight state titles. Eveleth won four straight from 1948-51, then International Falls won three in-a-row from 1964-1966. It would take a quarter century for another team to run off three consecutive championships when Bloomington Jefferson accomplished the feat with titles from 1992-94.
Should the Cadets manage to match Evelth's four-peat, it would come across two classes as St. Thomas makes the jump to Class AA next season.

1st period
STA-Matt Perry (Danny McManus, Gunnar Regan) 15:12
H-Chris Benson (Bo Gronseth, Neal Pionk) 15:54
2nd period
H-Scott Wasbotten (Zach Kramer, Joe Muehlbauer) pp 9:38
H-Ryan Kero (Pionk) 10:46
STA-Perry (Henry Hart) pp 15:07
H-Lane LeGarde (Kero) 15:44
3rd period
STA-Perry (Regan, Jack Stang) 2:53
STA-Hart (Austin Sattler, Stang) 9:05
STA-Tommy Novak (Schmidt) 16:53

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