Today, our story comes from Evan Friedlieb, who was a part of history when he and his Virginia - Mountain Iron Buhl teammates ended a State Tournament drought for their community.
I am and 18 year old freshman in college now, but my perfect hockey day happened during my junior year of high school.
It was a typical day in the small town of Virginia, Minnesota on February 23rd of 2005. The sun rose,
people got ready for school and work and went on with there day as usual. But, for our hockey team of Virginia High School, it was a special day, a big day; one I and the rest of my team will never forget.
That night we would play in the section championship for our school’s first ever trip to the prestigious State Tournament. It was something our team had dreamed of playing in ever since we put on our skates. It was also only the third time our school had played in this championship and had never won it. We knew
our team had the talent and depth to get it done and we knew history could be made.
We went about our day as usual, with a full day of school. We all went home after school, grabbed a little something to eat and all headed to the rink. For some reason, everyone was at the rink a little earlier than usual for this game. We went about getting our bags packed, listening to music, focusing for the game etc.
We boarded the bus and made the hour long trip down highway 53 to the DECC in Duluth. We were getting ready to play the biggest game of our life so far, against Hibbing, who was no stranger to
this game. In fact they were playing for their 13th trip to the tournament.
In front of a packed arena of about 4,500 people we took to the ice. We were trailing 3-2 going into the third period. Our captian and superstar player Matt Niskanen made it clear that we were not going to lose this game. He told us there is nothing to worry about, we will win this game.
After that, with everyone in the audience on the edge of their seat we took to the ice for the third period. We ended up scoring three goals that period. We shut them down and won the game 5-3. It was the greatest feeling in the world.
In 51 seasons, that Virginia High School has played hockey they had never made it to the state tournament. We changed that. To this day, it still gives me chills to know that we made history for our school, our town, our community. Our town embraced us. And if there was ever a team more
deserving to win a championship like this, i’d be hard pressed to find it.
Our coach’s passion for the game was amazing. He pours his heart and soul into the program. He was a big reason we won this game and we all have the highest respect for him. This was a day that will live in our hearts for the rest of our lives.