With the 2020-21 season still months out, it’s time to take a look at teams from all over the State of Hockey and examine what happened this past season and what’s ahead. The next team we’re breaking down is Grand Rapids.
How last season went
Hosting two metro teams to open the season, the Thunderhawks got things rolling as they topped Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Minnetonka. After that however, Grand Rapids lost four of its next five contests.
Eventually, the Thunderhawks got things rolling again. They picked up key wins against Duluth East, Wayzata, White Bear Lake, Maple Grove and Hermantown. Those final four wins came among the seven consecutive wins Grand Rapids rattled off to end the regular season. That stretch pushed the Thunderhawks’ regular season record to 17-7-1.
As the No. 2 seed in Section 7AA, Grand Rapids looked to be one of the few teams that could take down top-seeded and presumed Class 2A No. 1 team Andover. The Thunderhawks rolled past Anoka in the quarterfinals with a 4-0 win. However, Grand Rapids could not contain the Cinderella story that was Elk River in the semifinals as the Elks upset the Thunderhawks, 3-1.
Who’s back and who’s gone
There’s some reason for optimism in the Grand Rapids program moving forward.and Braeden Holcomb are set to return after being two of the ringe leaders for the Thunderhawk offense. The two combined for 21 goals and 39 assists last season. Joey DelGreco was also a key piece who is likely to return after a 19-point season (6 goals, 13 assists).
Maccrea Murphy is one player who will be missed as he graduates from Grand Rapids. He tallied 9 goals and 18 assists in his senior season. As for the goaltending situation, that’s another area where the Thunderhawks have some work to do asgraduates. He was a strong backstop for Grand Rapids as he posted a 1.58 goals against average and .935 save percentage.
What to expect next season
There is enough to like about the Grand Rapids returning player list to assume the Thunderhawks will be in the mix once again next season. With Andover not looking nearly as formidable as this past season, Section 7AA should return to its previous wild, wild west form. That means just about any team in the field could make a run. Just like Grand Rapids did when it crashed the state tournament and winning the whole after being an underdog during section play.