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Another Trek to the 'X' for Boys Hockey

posted Mar 22, 2019, 8:44 AM by Andrew Tichy
The MHS Boys Hockey Team celebrates after defeating Brainerd in the 8AA Section Championship on Wednesday, Feb. 17. The Spuds fell to eventual state champion Edina in the MSHSL State Quarterfinals. 
Photo: Rogan Isbell | The Spud

By: Rogan Isbell

The clock struck triple zeros in Bemidji on February 27th. This was supposed to be the year the streak got snapped. The Spuds were not even supposed to be here today. But a dream became reality when Moorhead defeated Brainerd 3-2 in the boys’ hockey section 8AA championship game to advance to state once again. A wave of euphoria rushed through the entire team, as the players stormed onto the ice in celebration. But that was not the end of their journey.

Unfortunately for the Spuds, state did not quite go how they wanted it to. A 4-2 loss against #1 Edina on Thursday followed by a 3-2 loss against #5 Duluth East on Friday ended their season. But the Spuds still made a great run, which cannot be taken away from them. As cliche as it may sound, junior defenseman Luke Gramer says the amount of work they put in during the off months will determine their success for the upcoming season.

“We just got to continue to work harder than everybody else… we got a lot of guys coming back, so if we can just work hard and play together, I like our chances [of going back to state]”, Gramer said.

For a program as historic as Moorhead hockey, it was certainly abnormal for them to be in the role as the underdog. They weren’t even predicted to make it to the championship game, let alone win it. Also, a lot of players on this year’s team had to work hard to bounce back from various types of adversity of their own. Senior Tommy Horan broke his jaw in the first shift of the section championship last year against STMA. Senior Nick Searls missed a majority of his junior season with a concussion. And senior Nolan Westra’s mother passed away in October after a seven-year battle with breast cancer. This didn’t affect the mojo of the team; if anything, it made them stronger.

“We just embraced that role [of being an underdog]. A lot of people didn’t believe in us, but we believed in ourselves, and proving people wrong is one of the sweetest things”, Gramer said. They certainly embraced that role, as they won the last nine games of the regular season and won their three section games by a score of 13-2.

The Spuds will lose six seniors after this season. Each one brings something a little bit different to the team, but there are two in particular Gramer says he will miss the most.

“[The senior I’ll miss the most is] probably Kyler Kleven or Tommy Horan… Tommy’s a big leader, a big energy guy, so he’ll be missed. And Kleven is just a really good hockey player, so we’ll miss him too”, Gramer said.

The last time the Spuds missed the section championship game was in 1999. Here are some things that took place in 1999:

South Park was at its peak popularity and released a theatrical movie in June. Bill Clinton was acquitted of perjury and obstruction of justice. Pokemon fever was wild, as Pokemon cards were the highest selling toy of the year. Google was founded. People still made trips to BlockBuster.

The Spuds are the Patriots of hockey, finding ways to adjust their roster and keep getting results. Their destination may not have been ideal, but the journey cannot be overlooked. They’re like a cup of hot chocolate; they’re just better in February. Now pass me the marshmallows.


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