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Hawks edge Mahtomedi in OT, play for 5th state title Saturday

Junior forward River Freeman scored with 49 seconds remaining in overtime to lift No. 1-seeded Hermantown past defending champion Mahtomedi 7-6 in a state Class 1A boys hockey semifinal on Friday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Freeman finished with two goals and three assists for the Hawks, who led 4-0 after one period and 5-3 after two.

Sophomore forward AJ Francisco scored three goals and assisted on Freeman’s game-winner for Section 7A champion Hermantown, who will face St. Cloud Cathedral for the state championship at noon Saturday at Xcel.

Henry (Martinson) turned over the breakout at the top of their circle, and AJ made a play and slid it over to me,” Freeman said of the winning goal. “Our captain, Will Esterbrooks (senior forward), got hurt earlier in the game and we had to battle for him, get the win for him.”

Jack Slattengren and Weston Bohlman also scored goals for Hermantown (20-8-2), and Dane Callaway stopped 33 of 39 shots.

The Hawks defeated host St. Cloud Cathedral 3-1 on January 11.

“We battled St. Cloud earlier in the season and it’s always a good game against them. The final? Packed house – it should be electric,” said Freeman.

Hawks Notebook – Hermantown is seeking its fifth state boys hockey championship … The Hawks are averaging 4.1 goals and allowing 1.87 goals per game … Freeman has a team-high 22 goals and 49 points, including three game-winning goals … Francisco has six goals and 11 points in five playoff games … Callaway allowed six goals in a single game for just the second time this season (6-3 loss at Benilde-St. Margaret’s on February 9).