State Hockey: Will this finally be Hermantown's year?

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Some people believe the Minnesota Boys' State Hockey Tournament is the best high school tournament in the country, and the action will be ongoing today through Saturday as 16 teams skate for a state title.

Class 1A quarterfinal games begin at 11 a.m. today with Class 2A first-round action beginning Thursday.

The Star Tribune reports that while ticket sales are slightly down, the state tournament will still see more than 100,000 fans pass through the ticket gates and more than $1 million in profit. Fans who can't go to the games, don't worry, legendary play-by-play man Gary Thorne will be calling the Class 2A action alongside Lou Nanne, who is providing color commentary for a 50th year.

Thorne, who has called NHL and MLB games for years, told John Millea of the High School League that NHL players from Minnesota rave about the tourney.

“They’ve said that next to winning the Stanley Cup, winning the Minnesota state high school hockey tournament is their biggest thrill,” Thorne said.

Will this finally be the year the Hermantown Hawks take home the 1A crown? They've lost four straight state championship games, all at the hands of private schools. Breck beat them in 2010 and St. Thomas Academy took care of them each of the last three years. The Cadets made the jump to 2A this season and failed to reach the tourney, losing in the section final to Eagan. Hermantown head coach Bruce Plante is glad the Cadets are gone.

“I think it was about time they moved up — I thought a little late in coming, actually,” Plante said Tuesday, according to the Duluth News Tribune. “They played a double-A schedule, so there was really no reason for them to not move up considering they get players from all over the state and the surrounding states.

“It was like an all-star team — and we all know that — so there’s no reason for them to play single A.”

Hermantown and Luverne, the only remaining team without a regulation loss, will start the tournament when the puck drops at 11 a.m.

The 1A field is also without Breck for the first time since 2007. The Mustangs were upset by Orono in the section final. Orono's reward will be a date with top-seed East Grand Forks, who lost to Breck 6-1 earlier this season, according to the Grand Forks Herald.

Here's the full quarterfinal schedule. Click here for tournament brackets.

CLASS 1A

#2 HERMANTOWN (22-4-2) vs. LUVERNE (27-0-1)
Wednesday, March 5, 11 a.m.

#3 NEW PRAGUE (21-4-3) vs. CHISAGO LAKES (20-8-0)
Wednesday, March 5, 1 p.m.

#1 EAST GRAND FORKS (25-2-1) vs. ORONO (19-8-1)
Wednesday, March 5, 6 p.m.

#4 ST. CLOUD CATHEDRAL (20-7-1) VS. TOTINO-GRACE (17-10-1)
Wednesday, March 5, 8 p.m.

CLASS 2A

#2 LAKEVILLE NORTH (23-4-1) vs. ROSEAU (20-7-1)
Thursday, March 6, 11 a.m.

#3EDEN PRAIRIE (17-8-3) vs. CENTENNIAL (16-10-2)
Thursday, March 6, 1 p.m.

#1 EDINA (22-4-1) vs. STILLWATER AREA (16-10-2)
Thursday, March 6, 6 p.m.

#4 DULUTH EAST (21-6-1) vs. #5 EAGAN (18-9-1)
Thursday, March 6, 8 p.m.

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