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The Ely Echo
Ely, Minnesota
February 23, 2019     The Ely Echo
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February 23, 2019

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t THE" ELY Section 2, Page 1 SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2019 DISTRICT CHAMPIONS - Ely won the District 12 Pee Wee B title on its home rink, defeating Grand Rapids 6-4 in Sunday's championship game at the Ely Arena. The team earned a berth in the upcoming regional playoffs to be held next weekend at Coleraine. Ely had the number-one seed in the seven-team tournament and defeated International Falls in its first game on Saturday. Ely hosted teams from Grand Rapids, International Falls, Hibbing, Eveleth-Giilbert/Mesabi East, Virginia and Greenway in the event. Pictured are: Front Row: Anya Moger, Alex Merriman, Drew Marolt, Ty Walker, Bennett Leeson, Brecken Sandberg Jace Huntbatch, Deegan Richards, Tommy Homer, Peyton Gregory. Back Row: Garrett Rohr, Eli Hall, Coach Andrew Saarla, Eli Olsen, Kaiden Zupancich, Wesley Sandy Coach John Payne, Owen Brecke, Blake Schaller. Photo by Eric Sherman. Front, I-r: Ben Cavalier, Chase Sandberg Coach Jake Myers, Nick Mattila, Coach Ben Johnson, Luke Olson, Coach Adam Matthews, Tyler Housey. Row 2: Jakson Hegman, Isaac Gawboy, Jeremiah Kaercher, Dalton Schreffler, Austin Meskill, Sean Prigge, Jason Skube, Justin Nyman. Row 3: Logan Loe, Jimmy Zupancich, Sawyer Klingsporn, Jakson Flom, Dean Boese, Alexis Halberg, Kole Macho, Sam Leeson, Chase Anderson. Dramatic hockey playoff win was Ely,s first ever against I-Falls by Tom Coombe game and it sorts of cracks that egg," back and Nemec turned away potential The clock finally struck midnight for said Johnson. "It gives us energy that's game-winners from Mattila and Olson i the Ely Timberwolves, but only after for sure." in the last three minutes one of the biggest wins in program International Falls trailed 2-0 after Johnson put his two big guns out history, one period despite outshooting the there after a timeout and the move In what was dubbed the "Miracle Wolves 14-8. paid off with the puck in the Broncos at the Border," the high school hockey In the middle frame, the Broncos end and the teams seemingly headed team shocked International Falls 4-3 stepped up their game and dominated, toward overtime. Saturday night - beating the Broncos peppering Ely's Chase Sandberg with for the first time in school history and 20 more shots. "For them to skate the last two scoring the program's first playoff win Only one, a power-play goal by John minutes is a kick in the bucket," said in 11 seasons. Boerger, went in. Johnson. "They're in shape and we Second-seeded Duluth Denfeld The tally cut Ely's lead in half but wanted to give them a chance to win it ended the Wolves' season three nights momentum had clearly shifted, in regulation. Nick Mattila came in and later in Duluth's magnificent Heri- Sandberg, who finished with a put pressure on that guy and it kind of tage Center, but even the 9-0 Section whopping 52 saves, was keeping Ely popped and Luke was right there and 7A quarterfinal defeat couldn't put a in the game. he came around the net and buried it damper on what was arguably the best "Chase played phenomenal," said five-hole. That was quite a feeling." week in two decades for the high school Johnson. "He made some great saves, The Broncos took a timeout and hockey team. some breakwaway saves. He obviously pulled their goalie, but Ely won the en- Ely finished 5-16-2, but its fifth kept us in there." suing faceoffand the hosts wouldn't get and final win of the season caught the International Falls continued to take a shot in the final 19 seconds, securing attention of the high school hockey the game to the Wolves as the final the Wolves' improbable, history-mak- world and ended a losing streak to the period began, but even Sandberg was ing win. Broncos that extended back decades - being worn down. Olson and Mattila had two goals and 62 games. A deflection tied the game at two each, while Olson and Dalton Schreffler Luke Olson turned a Bronco turn- while Boerger's shot from the left circle each had an assist. over into the game-winning goal with put International Falls ahead 3-2. Tuesday's game was controlled by 19 seconds left and the Wolves hung By the time 10 minutes elapsed in the Hunters, who scored 44 seconds on, stunning the hosts and perhaps even the third period, International Falls into the opening period and never themselves, had a 51-14 advantage in shots on goal looked back. "I think that's a win they're going and the Wolves were badly in need of Griffin Lehet scored twice for Den- to remember for a long time," said a spark, feld (14-8-2), including a shorthanded Ely Head Coach Ben Johnson. "After "We could kind of feel the wheels goal midway through the first frame the game, our guys were singing and coming off," said Johnson. "The mo- that made it 3-0. hooting and hollering. You get a win mentum had shifted and we had to get It was 4-0 after one with Denfeld like this and it puts a positive spin on it back somehow." holding a 20-3 shots on goal advantage. the entire season." Enter Mattila. The Hunters added a pair of sec- Ely's last playoff win came in 2008 The senior's 25th and final goal of ond-period goals and sored three times and the Wolves hadn't defeated a sec- the season was no doubt his biggest, in the third period, which was played tion opponent since Jan. 8, 2013. After a faceoff, Mattila had a burst of in running time. The Wolves went into the playoffs speed, split two defenders and fired the Junior goalie Shawn Easty notched seeded last among 10 teams in 7A and puck past the Broncos' Mitchell Nemec. 15 saves en route to the shutout while lost 8-0 to International Falls in a Jan- All of a sudden the game was tied Sandberg and senior backup Tyler uary contest at the Ely Arena.and the Wolves looked to have fresh Housey combined for 39 saves. Those numbers all went by the way- legs. The game ended the prep careers side as Ely jumped out to a fast start. "That energized us," said Johnson. of five Ely seniors: Mattila, Housey, Senior captain Nick Mattila scored "Ofall the years ofEly hockey, wecan defenseman Dean Boese and forwards five minutes into the game, and Olson play well but sometime if we get be- Austin Meskill and Jeremiah Kaercher. beat the Bronco goaltender later in the hind we don't have the depth to climb Denfeld advanced to meet Virginia period for a 2-0 Wolves lead. out of it." in tonight's semifinals, at Duluth's "If we can score first, we're in the This time, the Wolves knotted it AMSOIL Arena. McDonald retires after 29 seasons, more than 500 wins by Tom Coombe In 29 seasons as head men's basketball coach at Vermilion Community Col- lege, Paul McDonald has experienced his share of harrowing road trips and brutal Minnesota weather. Fittingly, his last trip included a journey home on snow-covered roads from Hibbing to Ely on Wednes- day night. "We were blazing trail to say the least," McDonald said the next day. But it was a happy yet bittersweet drive home for McDonald, whose Ironmen close out the 2018-19 sea- victory over Hibbing.the icing on the cake. Every- The game was in some thing was perfect except for ways anticlimactic, coming the fact we didn't win." on the heels of an emotional The Ironmen lost 93-85 pregame ceremony Satur- to Rainy River in the home day, when college provost finale, a rare home court Shawn Bina saluted Mc- defeat for McDonald in a Donald and friends, family decorated career. members and a few former Bina ran through the players returned to campus numbers which include 536 for the event, wins, more than 20 state The memories and evenand regional tournament some tears flowed for Mc- appearances, 16 years with Donald, who announced20 wins or more and trips last August that the 2018-19 to the national tournament campaign wouldbe his last. in New York in 1999, 2001 "Saturday was a lot more and 2002. emotional for me," said Mc- McDonald's 1999 VCC Donald. "To see all the peo- team was the national run- pie that supported me there ner-up and in 2001 the Iron- was pretty special to me, and men took fourth. Overall, of course the social after was (Continued on Page 2) son,and the longtime coach's McDonald and Bina storied career, with a 113.65