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Grand Rapids Hockey vs Moorhead-MN State Finals 2017

Grand Rapids wins its first Minnesota State Hockey Title in 37 years. The Thunderhawks beat the Spuds 6 to 3 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. March 11,2017. In search of its first state title in 37 years, the Grand Rapids boys hockey team delivered on the state’s biggest stage, defeating Moorhead, 6-3, in the Class AA state championship game Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Gavin Hain’s hat trick fueled the Thunderhawk offense, while Blake McLaughlin scored a pair of goals, including an empty net score that sealed the win with 1:04 remaining. The Thunderhawks opened the state tournament with a 6-4 win over Maple Grove in the state quarterfinals Thursday, then held off No. 1 Eden Prairie, 3-2, in the semifinals Saturday. After guiding the team to a third place finish in his first season last year, Grand Rapids coach Trent Klatt said this time around the team found a way to win when it counted most. “I saw my players do things in the last two days that, quite frankly, I haven’t seen them do all year; stuff that we’ve been trying to teach them and reminding them of,” he said. “ “Any time you goone of our kinda funks when Moorhead came through. “We took that time, to figure out exactly what each and every one of them had to do to change to get to where we are today.” The Thunderhawks came out strong Saturday, taking a 2-0 lead after the first period behind a pair of goals from Hain and McLaughlin. In the second period, Hain scored two more goals in a span of three minutes midway through the period to extend the lead to 4-0. Hain said although he was unable to contribute to the scoring in Friday night’s win over Eden Prairie, he knew he would have to step up in the title game. “There is a such thing as puck luck,” he said. “Sometimes the puck’s going in for you and sometimes it’s not, you just have to keep battling and being persistent.” A late penalty on Grand Rapids put the Spuds on a power play inside of two minutes of the second. Moorhead took advantage and cut the lead to 4-1 on a goal from Carter Randklev. Then with 16 seconds left in the period, Jake Stetz scored to make it a 4-2 game heading into the final frame. Grand Rapids picked up an insurance goal in the third from Micah Miller at 5:55 before Jacob Holtgrewe brought it back to a two-goal Thunderhawks’ lead with 7:45 remaining. Moorhead pulled goalie Lance Leonard inside of two minutes, then Grand Rapids put the game away with McLaughlin’s empty net goal. Zach Stejskal had 24 saves for the Thunderhawks and Leonard had 24. It was the fourth overall state title for Grand Rapids which finished the season 23-7-1. Previous championships came in 1980, 1976 and 1975. By Kyle Nelson-Grand Rapids Herald Review

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