The Luverne Cardinals boys hockey team has qualified for state for the first time in school history. Wednesday, the Cardinals will hit the ice at the Xcel Energy Center with an entire community by their side.
"I've never seen the town more excited than they are right now. It's crazy all the support we're getting from the alumni, from the little kids, and from the parents," Luverne Senior Forward Logan Norman said.
"The community is proud. The Hockey program is proud, and we're all thrilled for them," Luverne Head Coach Derrick Brown said.
Luverne stands as the state's only undefeated team, sporting a record of 27-0-1. That 'one' was a shootout win over St. Michael-Albertville. The Cardinals managed to run the table, while wearing a bullseye on their back.
"Every game these guys showed up. Every time we stepped onto the ice, we knew we had a target on our back. As the season went along, we knew our opponent wanted to be the guy that was the first to knock us off. So, to be able to do that...to show up for 28 games so far, and not have a loss...we're pretty proud of that," Brown said.
The Cardinals will play second-ranked Hermantown in the state quarterfinals. The Hawks won the state "A" title in 2007, are making their fifth straight state appearance, and have finished second four consecutive seasons.
"We're going up there to compete. Obviously, we're playing one of the favorites in the tournament. Hermantown is a big-time team. They're up north and play that kind of hockey. They've been to four straight state title games. So, we know, we've got our hands full," Brown said.
"We still aren't respected like we think we should be, and we're going to go in there trying to prove people wrong, and show them that we do know how to play hockey in southwest Minnesota," Norman said.
"We're just hoping to play with a lot of speed. Move the puck. We can hopefully get some shots on their Tender. Maybe get some opportunities, and we're going to have to play really well in our defensive zone, and we'll take it from there," Brown said.
Despite their undefeated mark, the Cardinals ranked 17th in the latest class "A" hockey poll. The puck drops at 11:00 Wednesday morning at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.