Class AA Boys Hockey State Championship Andover 6, Maple Grove 5
Posted: Saturday, March 12, 2022 - 10:41 PM
Rogers won the Northwest Suburban Conference during the 2021-22 Boys Hockey Season. Behind the Royals in the standings were Andover and Maple Grove, respectively. That finish of looking up the standings won’t be what Andover and Maple Grove will remember years from now. Instead, the neighboring school districts will remember the final day of the season, playing one another for a more coveted prize, a Minnesota State High School League state championship.
The final meeting of three between the schools this season will be remembered as a classic, a game of back-and-forth that featured dazzling offense, timely defense and twists and turns that turned knuckles white and sent hearts racing.
“Classic” is often an overused word in athletics, but it truly fits here.
Senior forward Logan Gravnik put himself in Andover High School lore forever when he scored with 8:01 remaining in the second overtime to give the No. 5-seeded Huskies a stirring, heart-pounding 6-5 victory over No. 3 Maple Grove in the Class AA championship game late Saturday night, March 12, 2022, at the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul. Gravnik ended the marathon game when he finished of a scoring play by teammate Weston Knox, a senior defenseman. He fired a shot that was deflected in between the circles and caromed to Gravnik, who fired a one-timer that set off a frenzied celebration.
It is the first state championship for Andover (25-5-1), which was making its third tournament trip in a row. Maple Grove (23-7-1), like Andover, was also making its first appearance in a championship game. Two weeks ago, Andover’s girls hockey team captured the Class AA championship.
Before the awards ceremony began, many Andover players skated over to Maple Grove’s side of the ice and provided words and long embraces.
In two previous meetings this season, Andover and Maple Grove split two games. On Dec. 16, Andover recorded a 5-3 victory during conference play, and on Feb. 12, Maple Grove recorded a 4-1 win.
It was the second consecutive season that the Class AA championship needed extra time to determine a winner. In 2021, Eden Prairie defeated Lakeville South 2-1 in single overtime.
Andover climbed into a 5-all tie with 1:50 remaining in regulation on an even-strength goal by junior Gavyn Thoreson. With the Huskies applying offensive pressure in earnest, Thoreson flipped a shot from the right circle that bounced through traffic and made its ways past Maple Grove senior goalie Toby Hopp.
Maple Grove climbed on top for a 5-4 advantage with 6:06 remaining in regulation on a one-time slapper by senior forward Chayton Fischer following a back-angled feed from Giuliani.
Two goals in snappy fashion created another deadlock, this time at 4-all.
Andover broke the tie on a goal by junior forward Cayden Casey on an outstanding individual effort, 5:24 into the third period. But less than a minute later, Maple Grove forged another tie when Giuliani completed his hat trick.
Maple Grove appeared to take a 4-2 lead with 7:14 remaining in the second period on a goal by junior forward Finn Brink, which would have been his second of the game. Giuliani started the crazy play when he fired a short-range shot from just in front of the goal. The puck deflected upward over Andover senior goalie Austin Brauns and to Brink, who was converging from the other side. Brink used his glove to play the puck downward and then took a whack at it for a goal. The goal, however, was disallowed after review because the puck had already cleared the goal line when Brink made contact. Therefore, it was with his glove, not his stick when the last time the puck had been legally touched.
Instead of a two-goal deficit, the momentum swing allowed Andover to climb into a 3-all tie with 4:13 left in the second period. Andover senior defenseman Weston Knox created the deadlock after cruising down the slot and firing in a centering feed.
The championship game began with a rousing start and didn’t slow down until the horn sounded the end of the first 17 minutes of play. Five goals were scored in the first period with Maple Gove holding the 3-2 edge.
Andover had closed to that margin when senior forward Jacob Pierson scored on a shot from the lower left circle with 3.5 seconds left in the period. His whistling shot found an opening over the left shoulder of Maple Grove senior goalie Toby Hopp. The goal had to have been an inspirational one for the Huskies because just 14 seconds earlier, they were staring at a 3-1 deficit.
Maple Grove built its second two-goal lead when senior forward Joshua Giuliani scored the second of two first period goals. He was the beneficiary of a brilliant between-the-legs pass from teammate Landen Gunderson, a junior forward. Near the far wall and his back to the open ice, Gunderson slid a pass in front to Giuliani who was alone in the slot for a long, open look at the goal.
Midway through the first period, the Huskies had pulled to within 2-1 when junior forward Cayden Casey scored on a short-range one-timert. Junior forward Gavyn Thoreson started the play by streaking down the right side and sliding a pass to Casey, who backhanded the shot past Hopp. The play was reviewed for offside, but upheld.
The Crimson wasted little time in starting the eventful period when junior forward Finn Brink scored just 12 seconds into the game. About 4 ½ minutes later, the Crimson doubled their lead on Giuliani’s first goal.