Watkins delivers dramatic game-winner, sends Hermantown back to - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

Watkins delivers dramatic game-winner, sends Hermantown back to state tournament

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There were several times on Wednesday night when it seemed very plausible that Hermantown's run of eight straight trips to the MSHSL Class A boys' hockey tournament would finally be over.

Tyler Watkins made sure it wasn't.

 Watkins goal with 14 seconds left in the second overtime lifted Hermantown to a dramatic 5-4 win over Greenway in the Section 7A championship game, ensuring the Hawks will get a chance to defend their back-to-back state championships.

Greenway had opened a 3-1 lead midway through the third period, with two of those goals from Wes Johnson, but that's when Hermantown went to work.

Watkins started an onslaught that brought three goals in 3:31, with Blake Biondi and Brady Baker getting the next two that would give the Hawks a 4-3 lead with under 2:00 to play in regulation.

The Raiders, though, refused to go quietly.

On the power play in the closing minute, Greenway got one last chance at the equalizer. Cameron Lantz shot a puck from the blue line that pinballed around in front before finally going in with 0.1 seconds left on the clock.

It was an improbable goal, one that seem poised to catapult Greenway to an overtime win and its first state tournament since 2001. Leading scorer Donte Lawson had a couple point blank scoring chances, and goaltender Ville Hyttinen made at least three highlight reel saves to keep the score tied.

That's when Watkins, though, stepped to the plate. Jacob Herter fired a puck toward the goal from the half boards, and Watkins tipped it in for his second goal of the night, 25th of the season, and possibly biggest of his life.

Hermantown will likely be the No. 1 seed in next week's MSHSL Class A tournament, meaning it would play its quarterfinal at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday. Final seeding, though, won't be made official until this weekend.

Greenway, which was playing in its second straight Section 7A championship, finishes the year (20-8-0) overall.

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