There was plenty of firepower to call on for both sides as the two heavyweights of Class A boys hockey this season, top-seeded Hermantown and No. 2 Warroad, met in the championship of the state tournament on Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.
But it was what can no longer be considered a secret weapon for Hermantown that ruled the day as the Hawks edged Warroad 3-2 to win their fourth state championship.
A day after Hermantown coach Patrick Andrews talked about how the Hawks’ team defense tends to get overlooked, the Hawks completely shut down Warroad’s top line, centered by Daimon Gardner, a finalist for the Mr. Hockey award. Gardner, Matt Hard and Jayson Shaugabay were held without a point after being one of the most prolific lines in Class A hockey this season.
“That won that game — our emphasis on team defense,” Andrews said.
The impressive effort was led by the Hawks’ top defensive pairing of Ty Hanson and Beau Janzig.
“They came off the ice one time in the third period,” Andrews said. “The work they did on their top line was phenomenal.”
Warroad coach Jay Hardwick agreed that the Hawks’ defensive efforts proved to be the difference in the game.
“They did a really good job of bottling us a bit and limiting our chances,” he said. “They were hard on our forwards and kept us to the outside. We like to get up and go and score a lot of goals, and they made it very difficult for us.”
Hardwick offered particular kudos to Hanson and Janzig.
“There’s a reason why Ty is committed to UMD,” he said. “He’s in your face, and he skates very well. Janzig is a solid defensive defenseman that makes it hard on people. He made it hard on our top line, our top guys.”
Hermantown junior foward Zam Plante led the offense, scoring two goals, including what proved to be the game-winner in the second period as the Hawks (29-2) won their first state championship since 2017.
“It’s a dream come true,” Plante said. “I’ve been watching (the tournament) since I can remember. To finally get to do it myself is the best feeling in the world.”
The game was tied 1-1 after the first period. Warroad took a 1-0 at 10:45 when Garrett Hennum picked up a loose puck in the right-wing corner and, standing along the goal line, beat Hermantown goaltender Dane Callaway on the short side.
Hermantown put the pressure on after surrendering the goal and tied the game a minute and half later when Dominic Thomas beat Warriors goaltender Hampton Slukynsky on a wrap-around.
A flurry of three goals in the first three minutes of the second period gave the Hawks a 3-2 lead heading into the third period. Hermantown took a 2-1 lead 55 seconds into the period when Plante fanned on a good scoring chance from the left circle, only to have the puck come back to him. He fired a wrist shot past Slukynsky high to the short side.
Warroad pulled even at 1:41 when a partially blocked shot hit Griffin Marvin and trickled into the net.
Plante scored his second of the game at 3:02 when he took a pass from Kade Kohanski and scored on a wrist shot from the slot.
The Hawks kept the defensive clamps on the rest of the way. Warroad had only three shots on goal in the third period and 21 for the game.
“I didn’t want to get into a racehorse game with them,” Andrews said. “I felt our greatest attribute would be playing great team D.”
Mahtomedi goaltender Ben Dardis and forward Charles Drage were among the 12 players named to the all-tournament team. Warroad’s Hard won the Herb Brooks Award.