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John’s Journal: State Champ Zephyrs ‘Like Being The Underdog’

Third-seeded Mahtomedi Edges Warroad in Two Overtimes

Posted: Saturday, March 11, 2023 - 5:43 PM





Mahtomedi's Charlie Drage chipped his front teeth during the postgame celebration.

When the team that’s seeded third in the boys state hockey tournament looks at the bracket, the path seems pretty clear: Beat an unseeded opponent in the quarterfinals, get past the No. 2 seed in the semifinals and knock off the top seed for the championship.

That was Mahtomedi’s plan in this week’s Class A tournament at Xcel Energy Center and they executed it to perfection. The Zephyrs beat Alexandria 6-3 on Wednesday, Hermantown 2-1 on Friday and topped things off with a 6-5, double-overtime win over previously unbeaten Warroad on Saturday.

Mahtomedi (23-8) also won the title in 2020. Warroad, the state runner-up for the second year in a row, last won the championship in 2005. The Warriors had defeated Mahtomedi 7-4 in early December.

“Our team personally, we like being the underdogs,” said Mahtomedi’s Charlie Drage, who had a hat trick Saturday and finished the season with 35 goals. “We knew that everyone picked Warroad and Hermantown and they thought that was going to be the game. We came into it remembering last year and remembering that feeling and just wanting to beat both these teams and knock both of them out.”

Warroad held a 3-1 lead in the second period and was in front 5-3 four minutes into the third period. Mahtomedi surged at that point, with Peyton Sunderland scoring his second goal of the season at 7:08 and Drage scoring at 11:00 and 15:40 to send it into overtime at 6-6.

After a scoreless eight-minute extra session, the ice was resurfaced and play resumed. The outcome was settled when Jonathan Grove scored at 4:56 of the second overtime.

Carson Pilgrim had a hat trick for Warroad, giving him 52 goals on the season.

Drage – who chipped his front teeth during the postgame celebration but never stopped smiling -- said his tying goal seemed to put a charge into the Zephyrs.

“When we scored, I felt like the game was ours,” he said. “We had all the momentum and we were all like, ‘Let's do it. We're going to win this.’ ”

Twenty-five-year Mahtomedi coach Jeff Poeschl said the depth of Class A hockey has grown stronger in the last several years, which was evident during the tournament. 

“The top five, six, seven Class A teams in the state are all very, very good hockey teams,” he said. “And you need a lot of things to go right to win a championship. Part of that is grit and skill but you need things to go right and there are a lot of teams that have all those components. We're just real thankful that we were able to pull all those components together this year.”

Class 2A: Minnetonka Edges Edina For Title

In a defensive-themed state championship game, Minnetonka outlasted Edina 2-1 to win the Class 2A state title.

Edina played in its 31st state tournament while Minnetonka came to state for the seventh time. Edina previously won championships in 2019, 2014, 2013, 2010, 1997, 1988, 1984, 1982, 1971 and 1969 (Edina East won it all in 1979, 1978 and 1974). The Skipper’ only prior title came in 2018.

Minnetonka took a 1-0 lead at 11:01 of the opening period when Hagen Burrows scored on the game’s first power play. Other than that, the game remained dominated by the defenses through two periods. At that point, Minnetonka had 10 shots on goal to 14 for Edina.

The Hornets finally cracked the scoring column early in the third period. Bobby Cowan scored from close range 27 seconds into the period to make it a 1-1 game. The Skippers took the lead once more on a goal by Ashton Schultz at 8:25 of the third. That stood up to the final horn.

The final shots on goal were 15 for Minnetonka and 23 for Edina. The Skippers finished the season with a record of 29-2 and the Hornets closed at 22-7-1.

The championship game was the third meeting of the season for the two Lake Conference teams. Minnetonka won both regular-season matchups by scores of 4-0 and 1-0.

--MSHSL media specialist John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at [email protected] 

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