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Class AA Boys Hockey State Quarterfinal: Grand Rapids 2, White Bear Lake 1

Posted: Thursday, March 7, 2024 - 11:12 PM

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Grand Rapids, making its 17th state tournament appearance since 1972, atoned for a regular season loss against White Bear Lake during the Class AA quarterfinals of the Minnesota State High School League’s Boys Hockey State Tournament on Thursday, March 7 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The win also puts the Thunderhawks in a position to reverse another setback.

And they did so in stunning, dramatic fashion.

Sophomore forward Nathan Garski scored with 1.6 seconds remaining in regulation time to lift the Thunderhawks to a 2-1 victory over White Bear Lake in the final Class AA quarterfinal. His goal came just more than a minute after White Bear Lake had found the goal it was searching for, one that tied the score and made overtime eminent. But the No. 5-seeded Thunderhawks (18-11-0) used virtually every ounce of clock to squelch the overtime hopes of No. 4 White Bear Lake.

Sophomore defenseman William Shermoen, who had scored early in the first period to give the Thunderhawks a goal that just might be enough to win, raced along the near boards and spotted Garski surging toward the goal. Shermoen feathered a pass through a defender to Garski, who patiently tapped it to his forehand and tucked the puck inside the near post just a few heartbeats before time was to expire.

White Bear Lake (20-8-1) had similar dramatics when they scored on a goal by junior wing Jack Stanius while playing 4-on-4 hockey. He whistled a shot from between the circles with 1:34 left.

The victory washes away any remaining sting from a 2-0 loss to White Bear Lake on Jan. 19 during a trip to the east metro of the Twin Cities. The next night, Grand Rapids suffered a 6-2 loss to Hill-Murray, which would eventually lose to White Bear Lake 3-0 in the Section 4AA championship game to earn a berth in the state tournament.

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Class A Boys Hockey State Semifinal: St. Cloud Cathedral 4, Warroad 3. OT