Section finals week in boys high school hockey is always exciting, and Wednesday night's thriller in Duluth lived up to the hype created by the same matchup a year ago, while also bringing an end to a run of dominance by the Hermantown Hawks.
Pulling the upset was Greenway, a small school in Coleraine, Minnesota, that stunned the perennial powerhouse with a 3-2 double-overtime thriller at Amsoil Arena.
The hero: Donte Lawson, who buried a rebound past Hermantown's goalie 13 minutes and 49 seconds into the second overtime.
As wild as this section final was, last year's was even more of a thriller as Greenway scored with fractions of a second left on the clock to force overtime, only to fall to Hermantown in a second overtime period.
The upset ends Hermantown's streak of nine straight trips to the state tournament, which included a surreal six consecutive losses in the state title game (2010-2015) followed by back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017. They finished third at state a year ago.
For Greenway, it's the school's first trip to the state tournament since 2001.
According to the Duluth News Tribune, Lawson had a 5-point game in Greenway's win over Duluth Denfeld on Saturday, doing so after arriving to the game following a trip from Minneapolis where he was with his brother who underwent a third kidney transplant.
Other teams to punch tickets to the state tournament on Wednesday night:
- Eden Prairie: defeated Holy Family Catholic 3-1
- Moorhead: topped Brainerd 3-2
- Edina: defeated Benilde-St. Margaret's 5-1
- New Ulm: outlasted Hutchinson 6-4
More section finals Thursday night:
- Lakeville North vs. Lakeville South (Section 1AA)
- St. Thomas Academy vs. Eagan (Section 3AA)
- Blaine vs. Maple Grove (Section 5AA)
- Andover vs. Duluth East (Section 7AA)
- Minnesota River vs. Rochester Lourdes/Dover-Eyota (Section 1A)
- Orono vs. Delano (Section 2A)
- North Branch vs. Chisago Lakes (Section 5A)
- St. Cloud Cathedral vs. Alexandria (Section 6A)
- Warroad vs. East Grand Forks (Section 8A)
There are a pair of section finals on Friday, Totino-Grace against Mahtomedi and Hill-Murray versus White Bear Lake, and those will be followed with the unveiling of the state tournament brackets on Saturday morning.
Coleraine, by the way, is a town of just under 2,000 people northeast of Grand Rapids.