Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Section 8A Title Tilt At The Ralph Engelstad Arena

By: Timothy Oshie

History will be made tonight as the 64th Section 8 (A) Champion will be crowned at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls, Minnesota.

The first Section 8 champion was the Thief River Falls Thieves in 1945, and the inaugural Minnesota State High Hockey School Tournament held in the old St. Paul Auditorium. TRF lost a heartbreaker to the Eveleth Golden Bears, 4-3, in the championship tilt which jump started Eveleth's dynasty as we now know it.

Next came the Roseau who captured the 1946 and 1947 Section 8 titles and won it all in 1946 with a decisive, 6-0 victory over Rochester. In 1947, the Roseau lost in the championship game, 2-1, to St. Paul Johnson. In 1946, Roseau was known as the Green Wave and were led by Rube Bjorkman notching a hat trick in a 6-0 shutout win over Rochester. Bjorkman later went on to represent the United States in the 1948 and 1952 Winter Olympics games.

Warroad was the next to capture Section 8 as they marched to St. Paul in 1948 with their tandum of Chippewa Indian players Max Oshie, Buster Oshie, Albert Angus and Sam Gibbons. The Warriors would lose to Eveleth, 8-2, in the '48 championship game. The following year in 1949, Warroad once again captured the hearts of the Twin Cities but could only garner a Consolation Championship without the services of Max "Chief" Oshie to graduation.

The history of Section 8 hockey is deep and rich with legendary names who've planted the footsteps. Now, these kids tonight will try to put their names in the history books and march to the drum of Section 8A championship game participants.

The Legends of Section 8 are staples of every town and village in northern Minnesota. Player profile displays hanging in the lobbies of each arena and banners displayed from the rafters.

Tonight, the communities of East Grand Forks and Warroad will proudly display and wear those beautiful jerseys, hats, sweatshirts, jackets and other garments as face-paint (or perhaps body paint) will cover their skin. This coveted event called the Section 8A championship game is held in late-February of every hockey season since 1945. Tonight, each of these two communities will cheer on their beloved (Green Wave and Warriors) to the final horn.

In the end, one team will emerge and one team will not. It has been said that the greatest feats climbed always followed adversity. Tonight, Section 8A will showcase it's top teams in a vicous battle to earn the title. In the end, each athlete will leave with the memories, the comradery and the desire to be the best.

I'd like to extend my personal congratulations to the East Grand Forks Green Wave and Coach Cory Chupka's fantastic staff. The Green Wave, most recently, represented Section 8A in the 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2002 Minnesota State H.S. Championships. Also to Jim Scanlan, Athletic Director of East Grand Forks who was the mastermind behind those four Section 8A titles and state appearances.

On the other side, my personal congratulations to the Warroad Warriors, who've captured Section 8A titles in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007. Congrat's to co-Head Coaches Albert Hasbargen and Bruce Olson for another great season. Also, to a very good friend, Assistant Coach Dennis Fermoyle, who stepped back into the program after retiring in 2006. Warriors hockey is complete again with Coach Fermoyle behind the bench.

The history books will be re-written this evening at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls.

Enjoy the game, and like the famous "Badger" Bob Johnson once said, "It's A Great Day For (Section 8A) Hockey."

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