Hockey has always been a part of my life since I first stepped out on a frozen sheet of ice. Whether it was day one trying to keep my balance, learning how to do a hockey stop, making my first stop in goal or winning a state championship. But most importantly, hockey has always been much more than ‘just a sport’, it builds one’s character and shape’s your life beyond the rink. And this weekend’s Minnesota State Boys Hockey Tournament was certainly no exception.
Before I go into more details, here’s some background on “the game”:
- The Hermantown Hawks were given the #1 seed and the East Grand Forks Green Wave the #3 seed in the Class A bracket. Each team made their own successful journeys to reach the State Championship game this past weekend;
- Both teams previously suited up in last year’s Class A State Championship showdown against one another, where the Green Wave claimed a 7-3 victory over the Hawks; and
- Hermantown has made the Class A State Championship game the last five years, since 2010, and has lost to each of its opponents’ since 2010.
Back to the game… In the Class A Title game, Hermantown found themselves down by two goals against East Grand Forks with only seconds left in the third period. After seeing the State Championship title slipping away with less than a minute to go I expected Hermantown to collapse; finding themselves short for the sixth straight year. But with 0:33 seconds left on the scoreboard, a Hermantown player shot a rocket past the East Grand Forks goalie and everything changed. Just seconds later, seventeen to be exact, another rocket from the blue line off a faceoff tied the game with only 16 seconds remaining the game. I had goose bumps, ‘could this be real?’
However in the extra session a fantastic shot from the slot won the game for the Green Wave to win their second straight State Championship and cap off an amazing season. But, despite the ending of this game for Hermantown is the all important lesson – it’s never over until it’s over.
I hope those watching took away what I did in that nothing is truly impossible. It’s hard to imagine fighting back to tie a game down two goals in one of the most important games of your life, especially when you are used to being the team with the lead. But the Hermantown Hawks, despite the frustration, never gave up. As one of the Hawk players, Nate Pionk summarized after the game, “You can’t just quit. You have to come back.”
It doesn’t matter who you are; whether you play hockey or don’t, if you’re a student or a professional. No matter what life throws at you; never, ever quit. Even if doesn’t work out, think of those Hermantown players, now on their sixth straight year as the “bridesmaids”. While it’s not ideal they have built a lot of character. And, most importantly they’ll always go 110% until the final whistle blows, whether it be today or twenty years from now.