Warroad blazes into semis on a day of blowouts in Class A

Warroad Warriors star forward Grant Slukynsky tied a state tournament record that had stood for 69 years on Wednesday, notching five points in the first period of his team's state tournament opening round blowout -- one of three lopsided games in the Class A bracket.

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Warroad forward Grant Slukynsky (27) center facing, celebrates his hat trick against Hutchinson in the first period of a Minnesota State Boys Hockey quarterfinal game at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on March 4, 2020. John Autey / The Rink Live

ST. PAUL -- Like many underdogs at the Minnesota State Hockey Tournament, the Hutchinson Tigers had dreams of an upset of the top-ranked Warroad Warriors on Wednesday. Grant Slukynsky needed a little less than seven minutes to bring those dreams to an end.

Slukynsky, the Warriors’ senior Mr. Hockey finalist, had three goals in the opening 6:26 as Warroad cruised into Friday’s semifinals, blasting past the Tigers by a 9-3 count. Freshman Jayson Shaugabay also had a hat trick as Warroad improved to 27-2, and moved a game closer to playing for a state championship.

“Coming down to the state tournament and taking in the whole experience is great, but also I’ve been trying to tell all of our players that if they thought it felt good winning a section title, they can’t imagine how good it feels winning a state title,” said Warroad coach Jay Hardwick, who played on the Warriors’ 1996 state title team.

Slukynsky added two first period assists to tie a state tournament record set by Eveleth’s John Mayasich in 1951 for most points in a period.


“I couldn’t dream of a better start than that,” said Slukynsky, who is committed to play college at Northern Michigan. “It was a lot of fun seeing all the people here. And that was a great start.”

It was a day of blowouts in the first three Class A games, as St. Cloud Cathedral blasted past Mankato East 11-2, and Hermantown took out Monticello by a 7-1 count, setting up a much-anticipated semifinal matchup between the defending champion Crusaders, seeded second in the tournament, and the third-seeded Hawks, who won the 2017 title.

Cathedral, now 24-3-1, entered the tournament ranked atop the state polls, but lost to Warroad in the regular season, and was thus seeded behind the Warriors. The Crusaders got 11 goals from 10 different goal scorers -- only senior forward Jack Smith scored twice. Hermantown improved to 22-3-4 via a Blake Biondi hat trick. Bound for UMD next season, Biondi added two assists as the Hawks stayed on a roll. They closed the regular season with back-to-back losses, then sprinted past their three Section 7A playoff foes by a combined score of 27-1.

Warroad will face Mahtomedi (21-8) in the other semifinal on Friday, after the Zephyrs overcame a two-goal deficit in the first period and scored four times in the game's final five minutes to beat Delano 5-2 and advance.


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Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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