Jay Hardwick stood outside the Warroad locker room on a frigid mid-January Saturday, not contemplating the four-hour ride home from Hermantown but rather the long, arduous journey to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul in March.
And, should the Warriors make it that far, the opportunities that might present themselves there.
“Hopefully, we’ll play them again,” Hardwick, Warroad’s 10th-year coach, said after the Warriors lost 2-1 in overtime loss to Hermantown in an epic showdown between two teams so disciplined defensively it was more a chess match than a hockey game.
Hardwick just might get his wish.
Hermantown enters the state tournament ranked No. 1 in Class 1A and Warroad is No. 2, same as when the teams met in January. Naturally, Hermantown received the tournament’s No. 1 seed and Warroad the No. 2. Warroad (24-3-1) has all the elements of a team capable of reaching the title game, most notably the often unstoppable forward duo of senior Daimon Gardner and junior Jayson Shaugabay, Division I commits who have combined for 150 points.