Minnetonka Boys’ Hockey: STATE CHAMPS

Sam Bremer, Deputy Editor of Sports & Wellness

The stage is set. It’s an early March Saturday night in downtown Saint Paul, and two heated rivals are facing off for the ultimate prize: A Minnesota Class AA Boys Hockey State Championship. As far as High School Hockey goes, this is the Super Bowl. The stakes couldn’t be higher. As luck would have it for those wearing blue, Minnetonka leads Edina by a score of 2 goals to 1 with about a minute to play. Desperate for a score, the trailing Hornets pull their goalie off the ice and it has become clear that if the Skippers want to win a state championship, they’ll have to lock up for the final minute of battle, with Edina controlling the puck. Facing a sea of blue in the Tonka student section, the Hornets whip the puck around the ice until finally finding a seemingly open shot just to the right of the net. 

Just as it looks like Edina will convert on the opportunity and send the game to overtime, Minnetonka goalie Kaizer Nelson swoops in, rejecting the Hornet shot. And as thousands of spectators sit in awe, the shot clangs off of each bar, sliding harmlessly into Skipper control. The puck is cleared, and the Tonka student section roars in celebration with the realization – “WE’VE FINALLY DONE IT!!!” – For the first time since 2018, the Minnetonka Skippers are Boys Hockey State Champions.

There were many heroes of the State Championship game. Nelson, ’23, obviously made the game-clinching save. Hagen Burrows, ’24, and Ashton Schultz, ’25, scored monumental goals that proved decisive to the Skippers’ win. John Stout and Robbie House, ’24, showed up big on defense. 

In the end, that was the story of Minnetonka’s season. When big plays needed to be made, Tonka stepped up and delivered. Nelson said that a big reason Tonka was able to win tight contests was their belief in one another, “Obviously, there will be more nerves in big games, but we have trust in our game individually and as a team. That’s our backbone.” There’s nothing more dangerous than a team with confidence, and the Skippers proved that all season.

Minnetonka Head Coach Sean Goldsworthy noted that the attitude of the team is something special. “This is the most unselfish group I’ve ever coached in almost 27 years. The Seniors and even now Juniors have embraced that leadership role. As a result, these kids are laser focused on getting better day after day, and it’s awesome to see. When you play like that as a team, success is going to follow.” 

Nelson shared the same sentiment, saying “The environment in this locker room is electric. It’s a really fun place to be.”

As crazy as it sounds, Tonka won this championship off the ice as much as they did on it. Nelson voiced that idea, saying “It’s been a straight grind for 16 weeks. By now, we trust our preparation. We’re here because of the work we put in”. Goldsworthy agreed with that notion, stating “We always preach “Trust the process”, and although it’s cliche, it’s true. These kids have put in the work all season and to tell you the truth, I think this championship was won back in April.” The proverbial switch was always on for Tonka, but it was flipped even more so after a loss to Chanhassen early in the season. Nelson said, “In that game, it was clear that they worked harder and wanted it more than us. We never wanted to have that feeling again. After that, every game was personal”. Minnetonka went 24-1 after the Chanhassen loss.

  Minnetonka took home the State Championship for several reasons: Talent, leadership, depth, balance, coaching, experience and maybe even a little luck. But as Thomas Jefferson once said, “I’m a great believer in luck. I find the harder I work, the more I have of it”. Ultimately, Minnetonka won a Championship because they outworked the field. The Minnetonka Skippers are champions, and they have proved to the world—especially those wearing Hornet Green—that you can’t have your cake and eat it too.