COURTESY OF FORUM COMMUNICATIONS
By: Ryan S. Clark, Forum Communications, Grand Forks Herald
ST. PAUL — So what if it’s third place? It is still a banner, and at Thief River Falls, that’s a pretty big deal.
A program that touts tradition got a little bit more to brag about Saturday when the Thief River Falls boys hockey team beat Hibbing-Chisholm 3-0 in the third-place game of the Minnesota state Class A state tournament at the Xcel Energy Arena.
The Prowlers (21-9-1) finished third for the second time in school history, with the last time coming in 1945.
Hibbing-Chisholm (18-11-2) places for the first time at state since 2004 when it finished third.
“It means everything,” said senior goaltender Josh Koop, who made 18 saves in the win. “We have a guy on our team whose grandfather was on one of those teams back in the ‘50s so tradition runs all the way through here and it’s something special to be a part of.”
Adding to the tradition was the focal point following the Prowlers’ 5-0 loss to St. Thomas Academy on Friday in the semifinal round.
TRF coach Tim Bergland said the goal, of course, was to win three games and though it didn’t happen, there was no reason why his team couldn’t come home with something.
Junior forward Riley Soderstrom, who scored two goals, said the 9 a.m. start wasn’t an issue once the team got into its pre-game routine.
“Our seniors were pretty active and they got us going,” Soderstrom said.
Soderstrom broke a scoreless tie in the second period when he scored on a point blank shot with 6:52 left in the frame. He struck again five minutes later when he flew down the left wing and snapped a wrister past Hibbing-Chisholm goalie Nathan Tromp’s blocker for a 2-0 lead.
TRF added one more in the third when Austin Odberg scored with about two minutes left.