Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Warroad 3 Albert Lea 1

Only in the world of Minnesota high school hockey could a team from a town of approximately 1700 people be considered a hockey giant, while a town with more than 10 times the population be considered an underdog. But such was the case in the state tournament’s most geographically diverse match-up between hockey powerhouse Warroad, hailing from the northernmost reaches of western Minnesota and underdog Albert Lea, who was representing southern Minnesota.

It looked as though Albert Lea had a chance to pull off the day’s only upset until a third period powerplay goal was Bryce Ravndalen, followed by an empty-netter from Ravndalen dashed the Tigers’ hopes.

The game was scoreless through the first two periods, due in part, to some nerves on both sides of the ice.

“We had a lot of young kids that haven’t been here before, and they were as white as my sheets at the hotel, so it took them a while to get into the game and get some rhythm going,” said Warroad coach Bruce Olson.

“I think we came out in the first period and we were very tentative,” said Albert Lea coach Roy Nystrom.

The scoreless tie did not last long into the third period, however. Just 27 seconds into the period, Warroad’s Aaron Marvin won a face-off to teammate Jeremy Hahn who fired a shot into the net, just 5 seconds into a Warroad powerplay. After Albert Lea tied the game on a scramble in front of the net, Ravndalen scored the game-winner, this time, just 4 seconds into a Warroad powerplay.

“I’ve coached 41 years, and I think I’ve seen just about everything happen. I’ve seen that happen, but not twice in a row like that,” said Nystrom, referring to Warroad’s 2 powerplay goals in a combine 9 seconds of powerplay time.

The Warriors will move on to face undefeated Hermantown in the semifinals on Friday, where this time, Warroad will be the team playing the underdog role..

“We watched Hermantown play, and they don’t have any weaknesses. Obviously we’re going to have to play a lot better,” said Olson.