Gentry Academy ended its dominant run through the Class A state tournament in the usual fashion on Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center.
The second-seeded Stars blitzed Dodge County 8-1 to capture its first state title in its first tournament.
This is the third season of the Vadnais Heights program participating in the Minnesota State High School League, but the Stars fell into sections in each of the previous two seasons. This year, Gentry Academy (19-0) left no doubt who the best team in Class A was. Gentry Academy surpassed Dodge County 54-9.
The Stars outperformed their opponents with a combined score of 166-20 this season.
Gentry Academy has been tested condition. East Grand Forks led Gentry Academy 3-1 in the second half of the state semi-finals on Friday at the X, before the Stars responded by scoring the last four goals of the game to storm into the final.
No such meeting was necessary on Saturday.
“It was such a good feeling for us coaches to see our boys play so well in this big game,” said Gentry Academy coach Joe Cullen. “We actually thought we hadn’t played our best hockey in this tournament, and we really hoped to show what we really have and show everything, and I think we really did that tonight. They were immediately ready to go. I hadn’t seen them this excited in a long time. ”
Many thought Saturday’s game would feature the two best seeds in Class A – Gentry Academy and Hermantown. But the Hawks – who were without most of their varsity players after allegedly close contact with a section opponent who took a positive COVID-19 test – were upset by Dodge County in the state quarter-finals.
The Wildcats (19-4-1) continued their unexpected run to the final. Dodge County was driven by junior forward Brody Lamb, a commitment from Gophers. Lamb finished the season with 52 goals and 35 assists, including Dodge County’s only goal in the third period.
Many of the Stars’ goals on Saturday were pleasing to the eye. Gentry Academy dominated the number of shots in the first period, but the only goal came on a power play attack from Damon Furuseth.
Cullen said it felt like it was changing in a situation where Gentry Academy could generate 100 opportunities and bury none, until Wes Berg lit his stick.
Berg who ultimately scored the second goal of the Stars in the second period just over a minute. When a shot came in from the point, Berg raised his stick and deflected the puck just below the crossbar. The stretch was rated for a high stick, but Berg lowered his body enough to keep his stick under the crossbar at the point of the deflection.
“Fortunately, Wes isn’t the tallest,” Cullen pointed out.
Gentry Academy went on to score a number of goals on a series of impressive snipes. Eight different players were responsible for the eight goals. Furuseth had three assists for the opening goal.
Cullen said everyone played so well that the Stars basically opened the door and just sent each team out on the ice for the next three. Everyone deserved a chance, and they took advantage of it.
When the last horn sounded, the stars threw their sticks and gloves into the air. Cullen also felt joy. He has played in this tournament. His father coached in it. And now he has won it.
“It’s something I didn’t think would be as great a feeling as it is. It’s hard to describe, ”Cullen said. “(The guys) have done a great job all year round. They were a great group. They were the most competitive group I’ve ever been in, and it showed up every day, so I’m so happy for them. With all the work they’ve put into it, they’ve earned it. ”
If Gentry Academy has to repeat, she will do that in a different class next season. The stars go to class 2A.
“We see some of these teams playing (in 2A), and it’s exciting. We are looking forward to. It will be a challenge, ”he said. “But it will be a good thing for us.”
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