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State Hockey: 1A wide open, Hermantown the favorite

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The puck will drop at 11 a.m. Wednesday and when it does the 2014-15 Class 1A boy's state hockey tournament will be underway. The favorite is Hermantown, who earned the No. 1 seed after finishing the regular season with a 25-2-1 record – and the Hawks haven't lost to a 1A team all season.

Here's a preview of what to expect at this year's tournament.

Hermantown (25-2-1) vs. Spring Lake Park (16-11-1)

Will this finally be the year for the Hawks? Hermantown has lost an unprecedented five consecutive state championship games; falling to East Grand Forks last year, St. Thomas Academy in three straight seasons before that and to Breck in 2010.

“It’s almost laughable now,” Hawks coach Bruce Plante said in an interview with WCCO. “I mean, it’s like, who the hell ever does this? I mean, nobody’s ever done this. It’s almost like, I don’t even know what to even say about it. It’s just the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen.”

Spring Lake Park is making its tournament debut.

Breck (21-7-0) vs. St. Cloud Apollo (22-4-2)

The Mustangs are back in the tournament thanks to a goal from William Blake late in the second overtime of their section final against Delano. The last time Apollo reached the tourney was 2013, when they were quickly dismissed by a 12-0 margin against St. Thomas Academy. But the St. Cloud Times notes that 16 players from that 2013 team are still on the team.

Mahtomedi (24-2-2) vs. New Ulm (18-8-2)

The Zephyrs are back in the tournament for the first time in five years. In fact, the last time Mahtomedi played a state tournament game they were being led by now senior Gophers defenseman Ben Marshall. New Ulm is typically overmatched in the tournament, but Minnesota Cornerstone notes that if the tournament were seeded by corn harvest, New Ulm would be the favorite to win it all. One more note: According to MN Hockey Hub, New Ulm's players are all sporting mullet haircuts.

East Grand Forks (23-4-0) vs. New Prague (20-8)

The Green Wave are back to defend their title, but they aren't the favorites. That title belongs to Hermantown, which might not be the case if East Grand Forks didn't lose four would-be-seniors to the USHL or NAHL, the Grand Forks Herald notes. New Ulm took third in last year's state tournament. This year they had to pull upsets over Hutchinson and a high scoring Luverne team to reach State.

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