Minnesota Hockey Journal

October 2019

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Photo / Greenway Hockey Greenway's overtime upset over Hermantown in the Section 7 final sent shockwaves throughout the state. 11 O C T O B E R 2 0 1 9 | M H J ON L I N E . C O M O nly 23 seconds had ticked off the clock in overtime when Ben Troumbly scored to put Greenway/Nashwauk- Keewatin past Mahtomedi to advance to the 2019 Class 1A state championship game. Under any circumstance, an overtime goal to send a team to the state champion- ship game is a big deal. But in the case of the Raiders, it was an exclamation point on a story Hollywood's best couldn't make up. In the early part of this decade, there was a chance this historic program on the Iron Range would no longer exist. But thanks to a last-ditch grassroots effort of many, Greenway hockey is thriving. That revival hit its crescendo this past March as the Raiders made a Cinderella run to the state championship game against St. Cloud Cathedral at Xcel Energy Center with the support of not only an entire community, but the entire state as well. THE RAIDERS ROLLERCOASTER Since its early days, Greenway has pro- duced some of Minnesota's finest hock- ey talents. That list starts with Mike Antonovich, a two-time state champion in 1967 and 1968. The former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher and Minnesota North Star draft pick was starring in Greenway right when the Serratores, Tom and Frank, arrived in Greenway. Notable Division I names came and went as did state tournament appearances and titles. Greenway maintained its success as one of the Iron Range's top programs. In 2001, propelled behind stars Gino Guyer and Andy Sertich, the Raiders finished third in the state tournament. From there, the program fell on hard times and numbers began to dwindle. "Slowly after (2001), we started hav- ing kids leave the program," said former Greenway coach Pat Guyer. "One kid goes, then another goes." That trend continued throughout the decade. By 2010, they started talking about folding the program or merging into a co-op, something once thought unthinkable. "We knew the number of kids at the younger levels were solid, but we did not have enough at the high school level," Guyer said. With a lack of numbers at the high school level, Guyer and fellow Greenway resident Jim Lawson went out to try and help supplement the high school team with extra players. The two men spent hours going door-to-door and class- room-to-classroom recruiting players for the high school team. Greenway managed to survive those years with a collection of players that included some with little to no experience playing hockey. "It's important to remember that there were a lot of kids along the way who didn't play hockey and took those losses on the chin," current Greenway coach Grant Clafton said. "Without those kids being willing to participate, there probably would be no Greenway High School hockey." After surviving the scare of losing the program in 2010, Greenway slowly began reloading and improving at the high school level. The kids at the younger level also stuck with the program as they advanced through the ranks. When Clafton took over the program in 2015, the Raiders were starting to make noise around the state. In 2016 the Bantam A team managed to make a Minnesota Hockey State Tournament After nearly folding as a program, Greenway rebounded and made waves across the state in 2019 with a run to the Class 1A state final THE SHOW b y RYA N W I L L I A M S O N

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