Moorhead Bantam AA has had a lot to celebrate about the past three seasons, winning a title in 2021 and making it to the title game last season.

Moorhead scored three goals in the first and second periods as they claimed the state title after a 7-0 win over Hermantown

Championship Sunday is here for Bantam AA, the matchups are set and the lights are at their brightest inside Yanmar Arena in Grand Rapids. The 48-5-4 Moorhead Spuds took on the 40-21-4 Hermantown Hawks for the 2023-24 state title.

The Hawks are souring at the right time, especially in the net. Hermantown netminder Carter Nash hasn’t allowed a puck in the net this weekend, stopping all 59 shots he’s faced in two state tournament games. Nash started the weekend off with a 33-save shutout against last year’s champions, Edina, in their 4-0 quarterfinal round win. He followed that off with a 26-save shutout in the semifinal game against Prior Lake/Savage, in the Hawks’ 2-0 win.

As for the Spuds, they make their third straight state title game appearance after taking down Osseo-Maple Grove 4-3 in overtime. The Spuds look to replicate their 2021-22 title-winning game when they were last crowned state champions. Moorhead fell to Edina in last year’s state championship game, but this year they look to make it two titles in the last three years. Moorhead defeated Rosemount 3-0 in the quarterfinal round on Friday, then took down OMGHA in OT on Saturday. The Cullen duo was on fire in the Semifinal game, with Joseph and Max Cullen both scoring a goal and an assist. Pavel Goryachev leads the Spuds in tournament goals with three this weekend. He scored one against Rosemount in the first game then two against Osseo-Maple Grove on Saturday.

These two teams have faced off four times during the regular season. Moorhead has defeated Hermantown all four times, the closest game being 4-0 when Moorhead won in a tournament. The Spuds seem to have had the Hawks number all season, but when it comes to the state tournament, anything can happen.

Moorhead and Hermantown had to wait for an extended 40 minutes before the start time, because of the third-place game. Prior Lake/Savage and Osseo-Maple Grove took four overtime periods to crown a winner when OMGHA scored and took home the trophy.

Carter Nash allowed no goals in the first two games of the tournament.

The Spuds came out flying in the first period, opening up with a goal just over five minutes in. Beck Thoreson scored his first goal of the tournament on a laser from the point. For the first time all weekend, Carter Nash allowed a goal, and Moorhead held a 1-0 lead. The Spuds took just the next shift to get their second of the game. Evan Wanner took a feed from Wyatt Cullen and Pavel Goryachev to give the Spuds a quick 2-0 lead in the first period. Moorhead kept the foot on the pedal in the first period, scoring another goal. Easton Dozark fires the puck past Nash and gives the Spuds a 3-0 lead after one period. Thoreson and Finn Paulsen both had the helpers on the Dozark goal.

Easton Dozark scored the Spuds’ third goal of the first period.

The second period was more Spuds-dominant, scoring another goal right out of the gate. Wyatt Cullen scored his first goal of the tournament and extended the Spuds’ lead to 4-0. Wanner was credited with the assist on the goal. Just two minutes later, John Gramer worked his way past the Hawks’ defense and netted his first of the weekend, Moorhead led 5-0 with 9:36 remaining in the second period.

Hudson Ferrie completed the season with a shutout state title win.

With under two minutes to go in the middle frame, the Spuds added another goal. Wanner scored his second of the game on a short-side snipe from under the circle to extend the Spuds’ lead to 6-0 after two periods. Drew Kortan and Paulsen each had an assist on the period’s final goal.

With a 6-0 lead the third period was in running time, so it was a quick frame. The Spuds added a late goal in the final frame when Joseph Cullen scored assisted by Dozark and Thoreson. The Spuds held onto the 7-0 lead as time expired and the Moorhead Bantam AA squad was crowned State Champions again.

The Spuds celebrate a state title.

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