Pressure is something that the Hermantown boys' hockey team is accustomed to facing. After all, you don't win back-to-back MSHSL Class A state championships without having a target on your back.
"Since I've been here, we've known that we are going to get every team's best when you're at Hermantown," said Hawks senior Tyler Watkins.
For 28 years, that pressure was handled by Bruce Plante. He coached the Hawks to 14 state tournaments and three state titles. After winning his third championship at the helm of Hermantown last season, Plante decided to retire.
In May, Pat Andrews was named Hermantown's next head coach. Andrews played for Plante in the late 1990's and served as an assistant coach in 2016-17.
"He has over 500 wins," said Andrews. "He's just an unbelievable person and a great coach."
So on top of being the coach of the two-time defending state champs, Andrews is responsible for replacing Plante, who racked up 547 career wins. It's safe to say only certain guys can handle that type of pressure.
"Yeah, I feel the pressure," said Andrews laughingly. "There's no doubt. The expectations are high here and we want to continue that the right way."
Through his first seven games as the head coach, Andrews has earned two wins, but understands winning is a process.
"The pressure is probably more put on myself," he said. "I think people are pretty awesome in the hockey community. It's a learning process. We are trying to do some different things with new ideas. That stuff takes time."
Hermantown is (2-3-2) and is currently ranked No. 2 in Class A. The Hawks return to action tomorrow when they face Roseville in the first round of the Hilltopper Classic in Duluth.