Moorhead Celebrates their way into title Sunday.

By Jackson Boline

The High School stars of tomorrow shine bright today in the Bantam AA State Tournament. First and second-year players showcase what they’ve got under the bright lights of the newly renovated Yanmar Arena in Grand Rapids. 

Moorhead 4, Osseo-Maple Grove 3

The 2022-23 Bantam AA Runner-up Moorhead had their eyes on a return to the title game when they faced Osseo-Maple Grove on the semifinal Saturday. The Spuds shut out Rosemount on Friday 3-0 in the quarterfinal round. Osseo-Maple Grove routed Elk River 8-1 on Friday before their Semifinal game. 

Both Max and Joseph Cullen scored big goals for the Spuds as Moorhead advanced to their second consecutive state title game. Moorhead faces Hermantown on Sunday inside Yanmar Arena. 

The opening period was good back-and-forth action, with both teams exchanging some chances. It was the Spuds who found a break when Max Cullen took a feed from Finn Paulsen and sniped the opening goal top right. Cullen scored his second goal of the tournament and gave the Spuds a 1-0 lead after the first period, Moorhead led in shots after one 7-5. 

Moorhead cheers after Max Cullen scored the games first goal.

Osseo-Maple Grove came out in the second period flying. Scoring just over a minute into the period, tying the game at 1-1.  Grady Kranz scored his third tournament goal assisted by Samuel Nelson and Luke Smith tying the game at one. Just four minutes later Osseo-MG got a 2-1 lead with 10:33 to play in the middle frame. Wyatt Kuznik scored his tournament-leading fourth goal for OMGHA, Matthew Johnson added the assist. With 5:08 left in the second period, OMGHA was called for a roughing minor, putting Moorhead on the power play. The high-flying Spuds took advantage of the extra man and netted the tying goal. Pavel Goryachev scored his fourth of the tournament and sent the Spuds into the locker room tied 2-2 after two. Drew Simonich had the lone helper on the goal.

OMGHA chance on Moorheads’ Hudson Ferrie.

The tie lasted just 19 seconds as Kuznik scored again making his weekend total five goals. Carson Mielke was credited with the assist, and O-M-G led 3-2 with a lot of game left. Harrison Betker came up big for OMGHA in the dying minutes of the third period, but Moorheads’ constant pressure came through. With 33 seconds remaining in the third frame, Goryachev scored his second of the game and fifth of the weekend, tying the game at 3-3. Joseph Cullen had the helper on the goal. The game was deadlocked at 3-3 after three periods.

Moorhead took their momentum and skated with it, not giving OMGHA much offensive pressure. The Cullen connection struck big for the Spuds with over eight minutes left in the OT period. Wyatt Cullen found Joseph Cullen open in the high slot, and Joseph rifled it past Betker. This Cullen duo could be something special at the High School level. The goal sent Moorhead leaping into Championship Sunday with a chance to hoist a title taking down Osseo-Maple Grove 4-3. 

 

 

Hermantown 2, Prior Lake/Savage 0

A year after failing to reach the state tournament Hermantown Bantam AA looks to write a different story in 2024. The Hawks faced Prior Lake/Savage on Saturday in the Semifinal round. The Hawks shut out the 2022-23 state champion Edina Hornets 4-0 on Friday. While the Lakers narrowly downed Wayzata 5-4 in the quarterfinal round. 

Carter Nash was a stone wall in the net for the Hawks, stopping all 26 shots he faced and leading Hermantown to a 2-0 win over Prior Lake/Savage. 

Hermantown celebrates into the title game.

It took just over six minutes for the Hawks to find the back of the net. Mick Martalock scored with 8:14 left in the frame to get the scoring started. The goal was also the eventual game-winning goal, assisted by Alexander Nicklin. The first period ended with a 1-0 lead for Hermantown, thanks to Nash, who stopped all six shots he faced, including a couple of big saves with the glove. Shots were in favor of Prior Lake/Savage 6-3. 

Mick Martalock scored the opening goal, which was the game-winning-goal.

The second period was scoreless but it didn’t lack action. There was a total of 20 shots in the period between both teams. Lakers Preston Kulics was forced to make some great saves in net, keeping the Lakers’ deficit at one. On the other end of the ice, Nash was sharp again, stopping all 12 shots that came his way. Nash and the Hawks held onto their 1-0 lead after two periods. 

The third period started the same way the middle frame played out. Both teams exchanged chances, but the Hawks started to gel more and more, showing on the scoreboard. Ethan Wise scored the insurance goal they needed with just six minutes remaining. Wise’s goal was assisted by Ethan Aysta. The Hawks took a 2-0 lead late in the game. 

Ethan Wise after scoring the games second goal.

The Lakers created some heavy pressure late in the game, but Nash, again, was up to the task. Nash’s performance helped the Hawks secure the shutout victory. Lakers goalie was also excellent in between the pipes, stopping 22 of 24. The Lakers will face Osseo-Maple Grove for the third-place trophy at noon. Hermantown will face Moorhead on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. inside Yanmar Arena. 

Photo Gallery

Rosemount & Elk River Consolation bracket game gallery

Edina & Wayzata Consolation Game Gallery