It's nearly time to drop the puck on the 2020 boys' state hockey tournament in St. Paul. With it comes the best Minnesota high school teams competing in front of sold-out crowds at Xcel Energy Center, in addition to hockey hair and some of the best storylines and facts that are unknown or untold to most of the public.
That last part, that's the juicy stuff. Fortunately, we were supplied with some pretty great storylines and stats from half the teams in the tourney. We'll add to this if more teams respond to our requests for information. Enjoy!
Hermantown Hawks - Mr. Hockey connection
Hawks head coach Patrick Andrews said Blake Biondi is on a "historic run" this season with 43 goals and 45 assists in 28 games, but the really cool part of the story is that Biondi is one of ten Mr. Hockey finalists, with one of the others being his second cousin: Warroad forward Grant Slukynsky.
Hermantown is the No. 3 seed and Warroad is No. 1, meaning these Mr. Hockey relatives could meet in the state championship game.
Warroad Warriors - special teams aces
The cousin angle with Biondi and Slukynsky is awesome, but so is this amazing stat told to BMTN by head coach Jay Hardwick.
"I think an incredible stat is that we led Class A this year in both PP & PK percentage," Hardwick said in an email.
According to MN Hockey Hub, the Warriors scored on 38.5% of their power plays while their penalty kill was successful 93.3% of the time (4 goals allowed in 60 penalty kills).
Hutchinson Tigers - hey bro, nice coaching job
Head coach Matt Telecky says their defining moment was a 5-3 loss to Orono, which was tight until the third period and proved to the team that they had a "good shot at winning the section." Hutch outscored their opponents 24-2 in the section playoffs, so yeah, we'd agree that it was a defining moment.
Telecky's brother, Marc, is the head coach of the Hutch girls' hockey team, which also made it to the state tourney. Other Hutch sports to go to state this school year: football, swimming (boys and girls), dance and wrestling, not to mention individuals representing the school in cross country.
But wait, there's more: the boys and girls hockey teams have two sets of twins between them with Britta Johnson and Miranda Piehl on the girls team and Nic Johnson and Mitchell Piehl on the boys team.
Delano Tigers - all in the family .... or neighborhood
If you think Hutch brought the family ties, check out what's happening about 35 miles to the northeast in Delano. Introducing, the Halonen family.
On the current team, brothers Mark and Craig Halonen, and Bruce Halonen represent Delano in a long list of Halonens to play. There are nine alumni, in fact: Keith, Dean, Brett, Chet, Brian, Karl, Lars, Gabe and Chase. Oh, and there are EIGHT more coming up through Delano's youth levels: Aaron, Daniel, Wesley, Lance, Adam, Bennett, Jack and Jesse.
That's 20 boys in three families.
"All of these boys have skated for Delano and play countless hours on the backyard rinks all winter long," said Carol Halonen.
Did we mention that EIGHT other players on the current team all grew up in the Woods Creek neighborhood of Delano? It's true. Laurie Brown says the group includes two sets of brothers, and all of the families moved into the neighborhood before the boys were born or when they were babies.
"The Woods Creek boys quickly bonded in hockey, playing organized hockey together all the way from Termites to today, but more importantly, playing pickup hockey at the Woods Creek neighborhood rink, in the Browns' backyard rink or in the centrally located cul-de-sac virtually all months of the year," said Brown.
The eight Woods Creek boys: Kory Dunnigan, Will Brown, Adam Brown, Jake Marciniak, Cade Lommel, Colin Lommel, Gunnar Paulson and Michael Weber.
Monticello Magic - weight off their shoulders
Searching for some magic? Look no further than Monticello's last game, the section final against Pine City.
"Not sure there was one defining moment this year until the end of the section final!!" said head coach Eric Nelson in an email.
Pine City tied the game 4-4 on a goal with 1:15 left in regulation, only to have Monticello retake the lead 14 seconds later on Huntley Hinz's goal that sent the Magic to the tourney.
"It's been a year of kids battling to get back to X after not making it last year and when the buzzer sounded I think a lot of weight was lifted off the shoulders of the seniors on this team as their quest to make back was complete! Now the fun starts as underdogs!!!" Nelson added.
Blake Bears - brotherly love
Goalie Aksel Reid might already own the best story of the hockey season as he went viral last week by showing class and sportsmanship by waiting to celebrate a state tourney berth to instead console the Benilde-St. Margaret's goalie after Blake won on a penalty shot in overtime.
Meanwhile, no surprise here that the State of Hockey produces a lot of brothers on the same team. Blake has 3 sets of brothers:
- Will & Jake Svenddal
- Lachen & Aksel Reid
- Nate & Rowan Heithoff
Moorhead Spuds - brawn and brains
Not only do the Spuds boast a Mr. Hockey finalist in defenseman Luke Gramer, but they also have two valedictorians on the team with Carter Johnson and Kai Holm, who is going to West Point after high school.
It's also a roster full of multi-sport athletes, as 19 of 20 players are involved in sports outside of hockey. Caden Triggs, a forward on the hockey team, was the goalie on Moorhead's soccer team that reached the state tournament and the kicker on the football team that reached the state tourney.
Eden Prairie Eagles - NHL bloodlines
If you're looking for elite hockey bloodlines then Eden Prairie should be your destination. The Eagles have two players whose fathres were big-time NHL stars.
Mason Langenbrunner's father is Jamie Langenbrunner, who had a 20-year NHL career with Dallas, New Jersey and St. Louis. Jackson Blake's father is Jason Blake, the Moorhead native who scored more than 200 goals in his NHL career, including 40 during his All-Star season with the Islanders in 2006-07.
Throw in assistant coach Paul Ranheim, who played more than 1,000 games in his 15-year career, and the Eagles have three connections to the NHL.
Maple Grove Crimson - overcoming adversity
"We think what really defines the Maple Grove Crimson Hockey Team is how we had to adjust and fight through adversity when we lost our top guy and team captain," said assistant coach Tom Miller.
Kyle Kukkonen was injured early in the season, and the loss of their "go-to-guy" resulted in other players stepping up to replace their leader.
"With all the coaching and encouragement to try to speed this up the players really needed to figure this out for themselves," Miller said. "They needed to figure this out as a player and how to come together as a team and believe in one another."
They did it, and now they enter the state tourney with confidence against Blake School, whom they defeated 5-4 in the regular-season finale.