Saturday, February 17, 2018

2014 Class A State Girls Hockey Tournament Preview

                             2018 STATE CLASS A GIRLS QUARTERFINAL SCHEDULE

11:00:  Marshall vs. Breck (Seed 2)
1:00:  Proctor/Hermantown vs. Red Wing (Seed 3)
6:00:  New Ulm vs. Warroad (Seed 1)
8:00:  St. Paul United (Seed 5) vs. Alexandria (Seed 4)

Examining the Field:  The 2018 edition of the State Girls Hockey Tournament gets underway with Class A quarterfinal play and opening up the festivities is the Marshall Tigers in their third trip to St. Paul and the second seeded Breck Mustangs.  The Tigers took home the Section 3 title trophy with a 2-1 overtime win over the Mankato West Scarlets.  As for the Mustangs, who are back in the tournament for the first time since they beat South St. Paul for the Class A championship in 2012, they also won via way of overtime with a 3-2 victory over the Orono Spartans.  The Mustangs have played a brutal nonconference schedule that included 10 games against state tournament teams and have gone 6-4.  They have overcome a 1-5 start to go 15-5-1.  They have the talent that could put them in their first Class A final in six years.

Wrapping up the afternoon session is the Proctor/Hermantown Mirage in their fourth tournament appearance and the Red Wing Wingers who make their seventh trip up Highway 61 to the X.  The Mirage have been on a three game winning streak since ending their regular season with a loss to the South St. Paul Packers and beat Hibbing/Chisholm to win the Section 7 trophy.  It will be a rematch of a December 9 game against the Wingers that Red Wing won 5-2.  The Wingers have not lost a game since they fell to the Hutchinson Tigers in the Farmington tournament December 29.  This is a team that can bunch goals together.  In their last four games, Red Wing has outscored their opponents 32-4.  Keep an eye on Red Wing they could go for the gold after four third place finishes.

Now to the evening session as the New Ulm Tigers battle the top seeded Warroad Warriors.  Poor New Ulm.  They are in their eighth state tournament and they have not advanced to the semifinals.  Their record in tournament play is 2-14 and it doesn't get easier against a Warroad team that has won 10 straight games and looking for its first Class A title since 2011.  They have not lost a game since Roseau beat them 3-1 on January 4.  They have also played two games against North Dakota teams and have outscored them 26-0, including a 20-0 rout in their own tournament December 27.  Warroad is one of the favorites to win the Class A title.

Concluding the Wednesday quarterfinals is fifth seeded St. Paul United and the fourth seeded Alexandria Cardinals.  St. Paul United, comprised of students from St. Paul Academy and Visitation is in their third straight trip to state.  The last two seasons, they finished second, losing to the Blake Bears who moved up to Class AA.  They beat the South St. Paul Packers 2-1 in overtime to return to the X. They will face the Cardinals who are making their 13th trip down I-94 and in the hunt for their first Class A title since 2008.  The Cardinals have been on a 12-3 run since they lost to Brainerd/Little Falls on December 21 They are 3-2 against teams from the Twin Cities, losing to Maple Grove and Breck.  Can SPU return to the semifinals or will Alexandria end a possible return to a third consecutive Class A final?

Next up, the Class AA preview.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Breck Mustangs Win Section 5A Championship

Quality was better than quantity for Allie Qualley as she scored the game winning goal 1:50 in overtime to lead the Breck Mustangs to a 3-2 win over the Orono Spartans in the Section 5A Girls Hockey Championship game at the Parade Ice Garden in Minneapolis.

It was the first section title for the Golden Valley based school since 2012 when they won the Class A title 3-2 in double overtime over the South St. Paul Packers.

Neither team would score in the first period though the puck entered the net after the buzzer sounded so the goal didn't count.

The Mustangs broke the scoreless deadlock in the second period when Beniek rebounded Katherine Solohub's shot and sent it to the net.

Breck wound go up by two in the second period as Solohub's shot was saved by Orono goalie Anna Lisle. But Sadie Lindsay found an opening on the right side of Lisle and she placed it in the net.  Was a two goal lead safe for the top seeded Mustangs?  Not for a trip to St. Paul on this windy Thursday night.  The Spartans would cut the lead in half on a flurry of shots that resulted in a goal for Sydney DeCubellis.  Following a time out, Orono co-head coaches Keith Radloff and Steve Perisian pulled Lisle for a sixth attacker and it would pay off for Iyla Ryskamp as she scored on a rebound with :37.5 in regulation time.

It was on to overtime and ended rather quickly for the Mustangs on Allie Qualley's shot from the left side of Lisle that headed into the net and clinched a trip to the X for Breck.

The Mustangs out shot the Spartans 32-22.

Breck improves their record to 16-11-1 and will play in the state Class A quarterfinals on Wednesday, February 21 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.  Orono concluded their season with a record of 9-15-3.

Sophomore Olivia Mobley, formerly of Hopkins/Park, committed to Quinnipiac University.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Former Wayzata and Carleton Coach Thurnblad Passes Away

Athlete.  Coach. Administrator.  Three words that best describe Jack Thurnblad and the contributions he made to the Carleton College athletic program.

On. February 12, Thurnblad passed away at the age of 96.

A 1949 Carleton graduate, Thurnblad was a two sport athlete, excelling in basketball and basketball.  He was invited to spring training by the Philadelphia Phillies but he didn't get a chance to play in Shibe Park.  Instead, Thurnblad played shortstop for Litchfield in the Southern Minnie League that won the state Class AA title in 1952.  He also started his coaching career in Hastings before moving to Wayzata in 1954.  Five years later in 1959, Thurnblad led the Trojans to the state boys basketball championship as they beat Carlton 55-41 at Williams Arena.

In 1960, Thurnblad returned to his alma mater and became the head men's basketball coach.  He also headed the men's golf program and in 1970, he became the men's athletic director.  Under his leadership, he guided Carleton to the 1965-66 Midwest Conference title.  He also led the golf team to seven conference championships, the first came in 1961.  Thurnblad was also instrumental in changing Carleton's nickname from the Carls to the Knights and leaving the Midwest Conference in 1983 after a 58 year run to rejoin the MIAC, where they were a member from 1920 to 1925.

In 1984, Thurnblad stepped down as head men's basketball coach, turning over the coaching reins to Guy Kalland, who is still heading the Maize & Blue 34 years later.  He would also stay on as golf coach and athletic director until he retired in 1989.

Thurnblad's legacy lives on at the Northfield liberal arts college.  The West Gym's basketball court was named for Thurnblad and a sign under the scoreboard reads "In honor of Coach Jack and Jinny Thurnblad."  Jinny was Thurnblad's wife of 61 years who passed away in 2009.

A fitting tribute to a man who served Carleton, first as a student-athlete then a coach and athletic director.  Thurnblad was a key to the development and success of the school's athletic program.

HSGN NOTE:  A number of sources were used to research this entry, including the Carleton athletic website.  

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Groves Academy Griffins Ground Calvin Christian Cougars

Tuesday night was Teacher Appreciation Night for the Groves Academy Griffins and the teachers who stayed for the game after the pregame ceremony would be impressed with Malik Bodden's game high 26 pints that led the Griffins to a 72-57 win over the Calvin Christian Cougars in St. Louis Park.

It looked like the Cougars were going to dominate the game as they would score the first 14 points that started with Joey Ritzema scoring :57 into the game.  There would also be three pointers from Ritzema and Josiah Schaap.  But lo and behold, the Griffins, playing without Nick Maiers and Max Greseth who missed the game due to illness, would finally get on the board with Larry Mohamed ending the early shutout with 12:18 left in the first half.  Bodden would be the engine who put the Groves Academy offense into overdrive, scoring 15 straight points, including a 9-0 Griffin run.  Calvin Christian would widen the lead with a 10-0 run.  Groves Academy would slice Calvin Christian's lead to one late in the first half as Max Bilcik hit a pair of three pointers and Robert Hall scored on a jumper that wrapped up the first half with the Cougars ahead 32-31.

The second half would begin just like the first with Ritzema scoring the first basket :31 seconds into the half.  The Griffins would forge ahead as Mohamed and Bodden would score as well as Donovan Bradshaw, inserted into the starting lineup due to Maiers' absence.  It would be an 8-0 Groves Academy run.  But Calvin Christian was not done yet as Even Olstad hit a three pointer and a pair of free throws from Josaih Schaap cut the lead to two.  Josh Koreze would score to tie the game at 50 and Bradshaw would counter to put the Griffins back in front.  They would begin to pull away from the Cougars as they went on a 7-0 run.  The one bright spot for Calvin Christian would be Olstad heading to the free throw line for three shots since he was fouled on a three pointer attempt.  He would hit his free throws, thought wouldn't be enough as Bodden would convert a three point play and Hall would wrap up the game to help a 5-0 Groves Academy run.

Other players in double figures for the Griffins were Bilcik with 15 points and Mohamed with 15.  The Cougars were led by Jace Shields and Hans Dykstra with 10 points apiece.

The Griffins improved their record to 8-11 and head to northeast Minneapolis on Thursday, February 15 for a rematch with the Learning for Leadership Mustangs at 7 PM.  The Cougars fell to 11-8 and host the Shattuck-St. Mary's Sabers on Friday, February 16 at 7 PM.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Nova Classical Academy and Cristo Rey Jesuit to Leave TCAC

When Nova Classical Academy traveled to Groves Academy Thursday night, it was probably one of the last times the two Twin Cities Athletic Conference rivals will face each other.

That's because in the 2019-20 season, Nova Classical Academy, along with Cristo Rey Jesuit will leave the TCAC for the newly formed Skyline Conference.

Also joining the new conference will be St. Croix Prep, St. Agnes and Concordia Academy.  Three schools from the Minnesota Christian Athletic Association will also be part of the Skyline.  They are Trinity School at River Ridge, Maranatha Christian Academy and New Life Academy.

It will be the second incarnation of the Skyline Conference.  The first incarnation ran from 1957 to 1976 and featured schools such as Fridley, Brooklyn Center, Osseo and Columbia Heights.

Prior to the start of Thursday's game, Nova Classical Academy head coach Duane Heidemann gave his thoughts on the newly formed Skyline Conference.

"I think it's going to be a challenge.  It's tough leaving the conference.  It's a change."

Could there be a further shakeup in the TCAC following the departure of Nova Classical Academy and Cristo Rey Jesuit?

Nova Classical Academy Knights Cruise Past Groves Academy Griffins

It would be a night to remember for Noah Olson as he scored a game high 23 points to lead the Nova Classical Academy Knights to an 83-49 win over the Groves Academy Griffins Thursday night in St. Louis Park.

Max Bilcik began the scoring for the Griffins with a free throw :15 into the game and the lead changed hands four times in the early going until the Knights went on a 7-0 run.  Olson would be a bright spot in the Nova Classical Academy offense as he helped widen the lead with 10 straight points.  Groves Academy's field goal shooting was like the weather outside-chilly.  It also helped the Knights pull away in the first half on a 10-0 run.  The Griffins would go on a late 6-0 run and the Knights led 43-25 at halftime.

Robert Hall would begin the second half scoring for the Griffins on a free throw but it would be the Knights who would put further distance into the margin as they would start on a 8-0 run.  Thing would get even worse for Groves Academy in the second half with the game pretty much decided, head coach Peter Shutte started to give the reserves some playing time but one of them, Josh Lightowler wss not listed in the official scorebook so the Griffins were assessed with an administrative technical foul that sent Nova's Abdullahi Abdullahi to the free throw line for two shots.  He missed both of them.  Nova classic Academy head coach Duane Heidemann also gave his reserves a chance to get some action, including three junior varsity additions, Mustafa El Chamee, Finn Miller and Jack Monroe.

Other player in double figures for Nova Classical Academy were Isaiah Boudreaux with 19 points and Shae Nelson added 15.  Groves Academy was led by Malik Biodden with 15 points.  Bilcik was the only other Griffin in double figures, scoring 11 points.

The Knights improved their record to 11-7 and return to action on Tuesday, February 13 when they host the St. Croix Prep Lions at 7:30 PM.  The Griffins fell to 7-11 and will also be in action on the 13th, hosting the Calvin Christian Cougars at 7 PM.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Kugler Signs Wtih UW-Milwaukee

Wednesday was Signing Day for high school seniors throughout the nation and one senior who signed a letter of intent was a St. Louis Park girls soccer player.  

Rafferty Kugler, one of four captains for the St. Louis Park Orioles will be headed to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee next season.  She was a starter on last season's team that went 10-5-2 before losing to the Minneapolis Washburn Millers in the Section 6AA semifinals.  

Kugler is one of five girls soccer players from the Metro West Conference to sign with Division I or II schools.  Two players from Chanhassen will be staying in Minnesota.  Alex Harmdiercks will be playing next season at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.  Claire Shea won't have to travel so far.  Shea will be heading up I-94 next season to play at St. Cloud State.  

Also, a couple of Benilde -St. Margaret's Red Knights have sign Division I tenders.  Claire Grazzini will be headed to Fargo next fall to play for the North Dakota State Bison and Maddie Stokes will be headed further away from the Twin Cities since she will be playing next season at the University of Memphis.