Boys’ hockey state championship game preview

Matt Muenzberg, Sports Editor

The boys’ hockey team has won two Class A championships, but the Red Knights will get their first shot at winning on the big stage when they take on the Hill-Murray Pioneers for the Class AA championship tonight at 7 p.m. at the Xcel Energy Center.

Tickets went on sale at 9 a.m. this morning at BSM, with students and parents lined up before 6 a.m. Tickets were sold out just a little over an hour after they started selling them.

To get to this point, the Red Knights upset Minnetonka in the section finals on Wednesday, Feb. 29 at Mariucci. They then went on to beat Edina 3-2 on senior forward Christian Horn’s late game winning goal, and then rolled past Lakeville South 10-1 to get to the championship game.

This year’s tournament field is one of the strongest in recent memory, with Minnetonka the only number one seed to lose in sections. The parity lead to all seeded teams at state losing in their quarterfinal games.

The strong field led to big crowds at the Xcel Energy Center. The Red Knights played in front of an announced crowd of 18,001 in the quarterfinals against Edina. Last year, the Thursday night session only had about 15,000 people at it.

BSM beat tonight’s opponent, Hill-Murray, 3-2 on Dec. 1, their second game of the season, but these teams are just shadows of the teams that played that night. “So much has happened between when we played the first week and now,” said head coach Mr. Ken Pauly.

The Pioneers have a potent top line of Zach Lavelle, Charlie Sampair, and Jake Guentzel. Sampair is a Mr. Hockey finalist and Guentzel is one of the top forwards in the state.

Hill-Murray isn’t all flash though. They play a very physical game, and it showed in their semifinal win over Moorhead. Several big hits drew reactions from the crowd and also helped slow down the Spuds. Expect the Pioneers to come out physical again against a speedy Red Knight team.