The Road to the State Tourney 2017 Section 7AA Style
Heading in to the Section 7AA finals at the Amsoil Arena in Duluth MN, after a whisky or three from the local Irish watering hole. I found myself back in time, reminiscing the glory days of high school puck, the smell of hotdogs, the beat of the band and the screams from student section. Walking into a sold out arena of students, peasants and press make this road to the state tourney all the more special.
Grand Rapids and Duluth East, a classic matchup in 7AA was all but guaranteed going into February. Grand Rapids upset the 4th ranked team in State, Elk River. As a 4 seed in the section, down one with little under 11 minuets left in the game, Rapids scored two goals in less than 15 seconds to tie it. Elk River then goes up 3-2 with less than four minuets in the game, normally deflating a team. “The Line” of senior captain Micah Miller, Gavin Hain (Jr.) and Blake McLaughlin (Jr.) took over once again, scoring two goals in less than a minute of being down, to take a 4-3 lead. “The line” had five of Rapids goals in the 3rd to upset Elk River 5-3.
Grand Rapids vs. Duluth East in the Section 7AA final went into double overtime. Both goalies stood on their heads, facing 95 shots combined. I cannot wait for those two tenders to cross paths in 10 years. I imagine the conversation starting off like “hey bud, remember when we stopped everything that night.”
GR and East exchanged goals all night long, every goal Rapids buried, East had the answer. East had to minimized the aforementioned “The Line”. These kids had to have played over 65-70% of the minutes against East. The biggest advantage Rapids had, besides the best overall line… TV timeouts. “The Line” could literally double shift because of the gap in play. All tied up 2-2 after regulation, the fans went to a whole different level. The Crowd buckled in, we all knew this might not end for awhile. The play began to get sloppy, passes and dump ins were soft. I was just waiting for some left wing parent to come down and demand to stop the game for some variation of Child Abuse. The second overtime coming to a close, Senior Captain Micah Miller had a one on one, along the left dot of East Tender, Kirk Meierhoff. Miller took his right handed white taped to the toe twiggy and fired across Meierhoff’s glove and went top cheds, back bar down. Straight to the Caution Orange Student Section jumping into the glass getting mobbed by teammates. It was all over…. Grand Rapids were section 7AA champs, heading down I-35 to St.Paul for a chance of immortality.