Saturday, July 2, 2022

Class 2A boys hockey final: Andover 6, Maple Grove 5, 2OT

Logan Gravink was in the perfect place at the perfect time to make the perfect play.

In the second overtime of a thrilling Class 2A title bout, Andover’s Hudson Zinda skated into the Maple Grove zone and fired a seemingly benign puck toward the net. His shot hit a Maple Grove defender in the body and ricocheted right to the stick of Gravink, who was left to bury the puck into the unoccupied half of the net for the game, and championship, winner.

“Hudson got the puck, and everything went black after that,” Gravink said. “All of a sudden we’re celebrating. … Lucky bounce.”

For the first time in program history, Andover is the Class 2A boys state hockey champion via a 6-5, double-overtime win over third-seeded Maple Grove.

The extra sessions were scintillating from start to finish, with each team generating chances that looked destined for glory but didn’t find the net whether it be because of an ill-timed fan or Maple Grove’s Toby Hopp sliding across the crease to somehow turn away a golden rebound opportunity or Austin Brauns literally jumping in front of a Maple Grove potential goal scorer.

With each passing “how did that not go in?” moment, the game continued to ascend the charts of all-time best state title games.

“I can’t think of one better,” Andover coach Mark Manney said.

Saturday’s classic — and the competitors who created it — earned its place in tournament lore.

“A lot of people got to see one helluva hockey game, and it’s a good way to bring it back out of COVID and give the fans something amazing. It was fun to have this back again, and for the state of Minnesota, this is such an incredible thing,” Maple Grove coach Todd Bergland said. “Twenty thousand fans got a wonderful hockey game, and it’s unfortunate someone has to lose a hockey game like this.”

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In the opening minutes Saturday, it looked as though Maple Grove was going to do to Andover what it’d done to its previous two state tournament opponents — rout ’em.

The Crimson scored just 18 seconds into the game on a goal from Finn Brink. Four minutes later, Joshua Giuliani put in his first score of the night. Maple Grove isnt a team you want to fall two goals behind to.

But Andover responded time and time again. Down 2-0, Cayden Casey put and over put within striking distance with a goal. When Giuliani’s second goal of the game with just 17 seconds to play in the first period appeared to be a back breaker for the Huskies, Jacob Pierson responded with a score of his own 13 seconds later — with just four seconds left in the frame — to cut the Crimson’s lead to 3-2.

Maple Grove looked to have extended its lead to 4-2 in the second period when Brink gloved a loose puck down and appeared to have batted it in with his stick just before the puck cracked the crease. But the goal was disallowed after replay determined the puck crossed before Brink’s stick touched it.

Shortly thereafter, Andover knotted the game on a goal from Weston Knox, who put away a tap-in goal on the rush thanks to a beautiful leave from Gavyn Thoreson.

The game remained dead locked until Andover junior forward Cayden Casey skated into the Maple Grove zone, went circle to circle, dragged the puck past a Crimson defender and sniped the near corner to put Andover in front for the first time all night.

That lead lasted less than a minute, as Giuliani — who else? — drove home a one-timer from the left circle to cap off his second hat trick in as many evenings.

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Five minutes later, Giuliani found the puck on his stick again, this time behind the net. Then he saw teammate Chayton Fischer coming down the slot and found his stick with an on-the-money pass.

Fischer did the rest, burying home the goal to put Maple Grove up 5-4. As he skated down the ice post-goal, Fischer broke into a Griddy celebration that would’ve made Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson proud.

Andover applied major pressure over the final few minutes, and just when it appeared it might not be enough, the Huskies’ star of the tournament delivered. Thoreson made a number of stunning plays this week in St. Paul, yet he scored a grimy goal with the season on the line, shoving the puck on net, which somehow found its way across the crease to tie the game with two minutes left — no style points required.

Saturday marked the championship game debut for both of the Northwest Suburban Conference rivals, who split their two regular season matchups. Andover’s title comes just two weeks after the school’s girls team claimed another state crown.

This Class 2A tournament was thought to be wide open — with a true belief that any of the eight teams in it could win it. Andover proved that true, in thrilling fashion. The fifth-seeded Huskies pulled off three upsets in three nights, starting with a double-overtime victory over fourth-seeded Moorhead that didn’t wrap until 11:30 pm Thursday, to stunning top-seeded Hill-Murray less than 24 hours later , to finally take down the tournament’s third seed Saturday for the program’s first title and cap a state tournament run to remember.


Hill-Murray beat Prior Lake 3-2 in overtime of the third-place game on a goal from Brendan Bonin.

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