Memorable, But Tough Journey to the Section Title Game for Andover

Eyewitness Sports
Created: March 01, 2018 03:01 PM

Mother Nature threw a wrench into the Section 7AA schedule as the semifinals were postponed two days. For Andover, they adjusted. It has been a memorable season, but it hasn't been an easy one.

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They won just 10 games all of last season but they have have 22 wins this season and it isn't done yet.

"We've never been this good or won this much," says junior goalie Ben Fritsinger.

"We have played four lines and six defenseman all year and what ends up happening is that the other team gets tired and makes a mistake," says Head Coach Mark Manney.

Andover (22-5-0) has capitalized often. They're ranked 8th in Class AA and a win away from making their first journey to the state tourney.

"A lot of Andover teams have never been this far. We just said we need to do it for the boys and work as hard as we can," says junior forward Charlie Schoen.

They had to work a little extra in the semifinals to beat rival Elk River this past Monday. Andover had a 5-4 lead with 1:14 to go....but the elks tied it to force overtime.

"You can't help but think that one unlucky bounce and your high school career is over," says senior forward Brandon

"I just said 'settle down and play our game,'" said Manney.

In the first minute of overtime, sophomore Gunnar Thoreson ended it. It was a moment that Manney won't forget on a very tough day.

"Last night (Sunday), my father passed away unexpectedly and it was really tough to be here tonight, but I felt like I owed it to the kids," said Manney. "One more emotion to add to that stuff - lots of ups and downs this week."

John Manney died sunday night at the age of 81.

"he (Coach Manney) didn't mention it until after the game, but a couple of us already knew and had heard about it. Another kid on our team had another loss too," said Schoen.

The kid dealing with a loss was Thoreson, who's grandfather Kermit recently passed away at the age of 91. That's the father of Gunnar's dad, Assistant Coach Bill Thoreson. They attended the funeral before the game on Monday. Thoreson scored the game-winner later that night.

"We were just trying to do it for them because we've never done this before," said Schoen.

On the ice - a rematch with Duluth East (22-2-3) awaits. That is a team they faced and fell to in December.

"I think we were a little bit in awe of them and we may be for a little bit to begin the game on thursday and we are going to come back and battle and are not going to make it easy on them," said Manney.

"They'll play for loved ones, they'll play for their community and play for a each other - and with a tip of the mask to an Andover alum, Olympic Gold Medal Winning Goalie Maddie Rooney. The 2015 Andover graduate helped the girl's team reach state as a junior and played for the boy's team as a senior.

"Just coming in here and thinking like she did - she wanted to win and always had a smile on her face and that is what we gotta do," said Fritsinger.

"if we just show up and play our game, I think we will be up to the task," says McNamara.

This is the second time Andover has reached the section title game. They also did in 2012, falling to Duluth East at AMSOIL Arena.

Tonight's game will be televised in the Northland on WDIO/WIRT. It will also be live streamed at


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