Red Knights charge the Cougars, move on to State championship

Matt Muenzberg, Sports Editor

At the conclusion of a season that contained high expectations, head-scratching losses, and a life-changing injury to sophomore Jack Jablonski, the boys’ hockey team is set play Hill-Murray for the state championship after beating Lakeville South 10-1 on Thursday, March 9, at the Xcel Energy Center.

Lakeville South had beaten top seed Duluth East in the quarterfinals just a night earlier, and the Red Knights expected a close game against the Cougars. It was quickly apparent that wouldn’t be the case, with BSM scoring five first period goals.

Junior forward Daniel Labosky scored the first goal just 61 seconds into the game, but he didn’t stop there. Labosky added goals in both the second and the third periods, giving him his first hat trick of his high school career. “No better place to do it than here,” said Labosky.

Sophomore forward Zach Hale and junior forward Grant Besse both had two goals, and senior forwards Jake Horton, Al Anderson, and Tyler Ellegard also scored.

The Red Knights will take on a Pioneers team that beat Moorhead 2-1 in overtime on Friday. The matchup on Saturday, March 10 at 7:00 will pit two highly talented teams against one another. “I think it’s going to be one of those matchups where you have skill on skill, and I guess we’ll see what happens,” said head coach Mr. Ken Pauly.

BSM and Hill-Murray met in the first week of the season, with BSM winning 3-2 on Dec. 1, but according to Mr. Pauly, that may not be the best measure of these two teams. “It seems like a year ago. Not a year ago, it was, what, three, four months ago? So much has happened between when we played the first week and now,” said Mr. Pauly.

Red Knight senior defenseman Jonah Johnson played three seasons for Hill-Murray before transferring to BSM. Johnson was one of several key players that the Pioneers lost over the off season for various reasons. With that, expectations weren’t as high as usual on the east side, but Johnson isn’t surprised to see his former team back in the championship game.

“[Hill-Murray head coach Bill] Lechner’s a great coach. He gets in the state tournament every year, so no, I’m not surprised at all,” said Johnson.

The Pioneers had several big hits in their semifinal game against Moorhead, a strategy that Mr. Pauly admits may be tough for the speedy Red Knights. “That’s always a challenge for our club. People physically think that they can get into us a little bit, and I think that will be their plan,” said Mr. Pauly.