High school coaches don’t have superpowers, but if they could choose a single, otherworldly ability it might very well be to take take their grittiest, toughest, most tenacious and coachable player and clone him.
Think of it like that classic old TV jingle for chewing gum: “Double your pleasure, double your fun … double delightment!”
Never mind that delightment isn’t an actual word, and consider the possibilities. Holy Angels coach Pat Griswold could, for example, take 6-foot-2, 190-pound junior forward Noah Hermanson and make an exact copy, name him Carter, and have himself a whale of a forward tandem.
“They are literally the exact same player, and they look exactly the same,” said Griswold, who just happens to a real-life set of Hermanson twins — with no superpowers required … we think. Griswold has coached Noah and Carter since they were freshmen. “Still, to this day, and I am with them every day, I can’t tell them apart.”
Carter Hermanson, who scored the winning goal with 54 seconds left in Monday’s 4-2 triumph over Mankato West at Richfield Ice Arena, let loose with a laugh when he heard about Griswold’s struggles telling the twins apart. The Hermansons do have their tells. Noah, who scored an empty net goal with 25 seconds left to clinch the victory, writes with his left hand. Carter writes with his right hand. Carter shoots left handed. Noah shoots right handed.
Then there’s the shoes. Jack Bartfield, a slick-stickhandling, smooth-skating sophomore defenseman who fired a long pass that sprung Carter Hermanson on a breakaway for the winning goal, has a foolproof system for determining which twin is which when they are in school.
“Noah wears red shoes and Carter wears Hey Dudes,” said Bartfield, who also scored a first-period power play goal. “At school it’s easy, but here (at the rink) it is kind of hard.”
Griswold said he once tried splitting the twins up, placing them on separate forward lines. The short-lived experiment was a disaster.
“It’s like, and I mean this in a positive way, they share a brain,” Griswold said. “When they were split up they just weren’t effective without each other. There really is no option of splitting them up.”
As sophomore soccer standouts, the Hermansons led the Stars to an undefeated record en route to the the state Class 1A championship in 2019. The boys’ soccer team, with Carter Hermanson as the leading scorer, went 11-1-1 and won the Section 3A championship in an abbreviated season last fall.
On the ice, as gritty, grinding power forwards, the Hermansons rank first and third in scoring this season for the Stars. Carter has a team-best 26 points, and Noah is the goal-scoring leader with 14. Off the ice, they are stellar students in school and grade-A leaders in the locker room.
“They helped me through freshman year, and now they are by my side, still helping me,” said Bartfield, who has 25 points. “They took me under their wing and taught me varsity hockey, really.”
The ultra-competitive Hermansons’ tenaciousness was required for Holy Angels (9-4-0) to put away a scrappy Mankato West team that led 2-1 entering the third period. The Scarlets (10-2-2) got outstanding performances from goaltender Caleb Cross (45 saves) and forward Brandon Swenson (1 goal, 1 assist).
“I have no idea where the kid (Carter Hermanson) came from,” Scarlets coach Curtis Doell said about the winning goal. “All of a sudden I look up and there’s a guy behind our D. We preach to our D, nobody behind, nobody behind, and sure enough there he is.”
Doell said the Stars presented a tougher challenge from what Mankato West normally sees in Big 9 Conference opponents.
“They would probably beat most (Big 9) teams, I would say, just with their tenacity and speed through the neutral zone. We don’t see a lot of that.”
Watching the Hermansons for three periods, and especially that final minute, no doubt left the Scarlets seeing double.