ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - After a player on the opposing team in Hermantown’s last game tested positive for COVID-19, the Hawks were hit in the gut on Tuesday.
Under Minnesota State High School League rules, the team’s coaches were allowed to continue, but any player who had stepped foot on the ice in the team’s last game had to sit out of Tuesday’s state tournament matchup against Dodge County.
Hermantown has made a home of Xcel Energy Center year after year during the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament.
"We expect to win, and that’s what we come down here to do," said Hermantown Hockey Head Coach Patrick Andrews. "These boys have a great winning tradition."
However, in 2021 everything is different.
"It was a devastating day yesterday to make those conversations, especially with the seniors," Coach Andrews explained. "We found out at 11 [a.m.] yesterday afternoon that this was going to happen, so we just got on the phone and started calling kids back."
In place of the varsity roster, now 18 junior varsity players stepped in for the biggest game of the year, against the state’s leading goal scorer.
"It was a really, really hard day and then when we found out we could do this, it gave everybody hope," Coach Andrews said. "We just need some of our guys that we didn’t expect to come through and step up for us."
They even called back a player who was supposed to be spring breaking in Florida until next Monday.
"We found a plane that was leaving Florida that night and booked four tickets for my family," sophomore Zach Pruse told FOX 9.
The effort was all for one game in the hopes of extending the high school careers of seven seniors.
"It’s the state tournament, anything can happen," Coach Andrews said. "We can’t control this. Are we happy about it? No."
One positive for the team is sophomore Zam Plante, Hermantown’s top player and one of the best in the state was eligible to play as he returned after being out with an injury.
"I know that the boys are ready to go to war for our town, so I think that we can try to pull off a win tonight," Plante said. "They’ve worked hard since they could begin to skate for this game, so it would be nice if we could win for them."
"They are ecstatic, I haven’t felt this much inertia and momentum behind a team in a long long time," said Andrews of the team before the game. "There’s so much momentum behind this team right now, the way the town’s rallied, people rallied, I had way more phone calls and emails than normal."
The JV team was not able to pull off the win, however, losing 7-3 to Dodge County Tuesday night.