Like many of you, I grew up dreaming about playing in the state high school tournament. My dream came true during my senior year at Edina-East High School as we beat our crosstown rivals from Edina-West to advance to the state tournament. I remember the awesome experience like it was yesterday.
We had a very good team that include several seniors who would go on to play Division I hockey at schools like Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan Tech, and Notre Dame. I went on to play at Mankato State, while another senior classmate continued his hockey career at Gustavus. I was the fortunate to get the staring nod in the three tournament games.
The tournament was played at the St. Paul Civic Center, which featured the glass dasher boards. It was also an eight-team tournament back then — no AA and A.
Our opening night game was a classic match-up as we faced off against Roseau and a guy named Neal Broten. We came into the game with a 23-1 record, (only loss was to Burnsville) while the Rams entered the contest with a perfect 23-0 mark!
It was number 1 against number 2 and from what I remember it was a barnburner. The Hornets skated with a hard-fought 2-0 win. Turns out, it was one of the few times during his legendary high school hockey career that Broten was held without a point.
In the semifinals, we squared off against the “Big Orange Machine” from Grand Rapids, which was the two-time defending state champions. The Indians as they were known back then, featured a number of future Division one hockey players including guy by the name of Don Lucia. This too, was an exciting back and forth high-scoring game. When the final buzzer sounded, we escaped with a thrilling 6-5 win.
That put us into the championship game against Rochester John Marshall. The Rockets featured a goalie by the name of Paul Butters who stopped just about everything they threw at him and the high-scoring Lecy brothers. The squad from southern Minnesota was just too much for us that night as they captured the title with a 4-2.
Even though we lost in the championship game, having the opportunity to play in the state tourney is something I will never forget. It was quite a weekend!