Freeman scores in OT to lift Hermantown past Mahtomedi and into the Class A state title game

Freeman scores in OT to lift Hermantown past Mahtomedi and into the Class A state title game

Freeman scores in OT to lift Hermantown past Mahtomedi and into the Class A state title game

On Friday, the top-seeded Hermantown boys hockey team held off fourth seeded Mahtomedi 7-6 in overtime in the Class A state semifinals at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. It was a rematch of the 2023 state semifinals where the Zephyrs beat the Hawks 2-1.

“I have so much respect for Coach Poeschl and that program, and they’ve ripped my heart out down in this exact situation the last two times we played in this tournament. So, yeah, there’s doubts in the back of your mind that can creep in and you just got to push them down and trust the boys,” Hermantown head coach Patrick Andrews said.

Six minutes into the first period River Freeman scored to give the Hawks an early 1-0 lead. Five minutes later Jack Slattengren would score on a wrap around to make it 2-0 Hermantown. In the next 24 seconds it would become 3-0 Hermantown thanks to AJ Francisco. Weston Bohlman made it 4-0 scoring with under a minute left in the first period. After the first frame the Hawks lead in shots on goal 16-5.

“For me it was personal for the boys last year. I mean, those guys were my best friends and seeing them after that loss hit me hard. We had the date March 9th on our whiteboard all year,” senior Weston Bohlman said.

Mahtomedi would break through halfway through the second period with a goal by Sam Harris. Then Jake Hodd-Chlebeck added another for the Zephyrs scoring on the power play to come within two. Seconds later Hermantown got a power play and Francisco immediately found the back of the net for his second of the game to lead 5-2. Patrick Egan later scored for Mahtomedi with under a minute left in the second period to trail 5-3 at the break. The Zephyrs outshot the Hawks 15-9, who still led the over shots on goal count 25-20.

Three minutes into the third period Mahtomedi made it a one goal game with Wyatt Tarnowski scoring to trail 5-4. Francisco put Hermantown back up by two recording his third goal of the day for the hat-trick to lead 6-4. The Zephyrs scored with under two minutes left from Sam Harris to trail 6-5. Then, with under a minute to go, Max Strecker tied the game for Mahtomedi 6-6 to force overtime.

“You got to give them credit there. There’s a reason they’re here every year. They’re defending state champs. We went off to a nice lead, but you got to expect a push back from them, and that’s exactly what we got,” said Francisco, a sophomore forward.

River Freeman would score the game winner in overtime for Hermantown to earn the 7-6 semifinal victory. In net, Hermantown’s Dane Callaway made 33 saves while Mahtomedi’s Wes Strub made 12 saves and Charlie Brandt made 14 saves.

“My foot cut myself on-sides, by barely anything, so that was nice. And then I think it was Henry Martinsen who hit the guy and made the turnover, and AJ picked it up and I saw AJ with it and I called for it, and I just did my job and he did his,” Freeman explained.

Hermantown advances to the Class A state championship against No. 3 St. Cloud Cathedral, who defeated No. 2 Warroad 4-3 in overtime. The title game Saturday is set for 12 p.m. at the Xcel Energy Center. For the full Class A bracket, Click Here.

The Class AA semifinals Friday night are Cretin-Derham Hall vs. No. 2 Chanhassen set for 6 p.m., and No. 5 Grand Rapids vs. No. 1 Edina set for 8 p.m. For that full bracket, Click Here.

The tournament is being televised on WDIO. For additional ways to watch or stream the games, Click Here.