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Warner Coliseum era ends for high school hockey

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Friday night marked the end of an era for Minnesota high school hockey at The Warner Coliseum in St. Paul with a pair of section final games featuring the Centennial Cougars and the Blaine Bengals for the Section 5 title and the Stillwater Ponies and the Hill-Murray Pioneers battling for the Section 4 crown.

It also led to ask those in attendance to recall meorable moments from games played on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds as well as the building in general.

First up was hockey scout Mike McGraw, who is a part of KSTC-TV's state hockey tournament broadcast team.

"The doubleheaders at tournament time and the seating and the sight lines."

Next up was a fellow who has brought many Hill-Murray boys hockey teams to the Coliseum, head coach Bill Lechner. He gave his description of the venue. ""It's quite a venue. A lot of emotion. A lot of great memories from a lot of great games."

Lechner, who is also the school's activities director also mentioned about a number of the great games with White Bear Lake.

Also interviewed was Paul Stansel, who works in the Coliseum's hockey office. He was a member of the St. Paul Harding from 1974 to 1977 and recalled a game where one of the players went after referee Whitey Lofler.

As for the two games that wrapped up the Coliseum era. In the Section 5AA final, it's offense that usually gets the headlines but it was the solid goal tending of senior Blake Miller that helped the Centennial Cougars beat the Blaine Bengals 2-1.

The Section 4AA final saw Brandon Jungmann score not only the final goal in the Coliseum but also the game winner on a power play goal with 12:45 left in regulation to lead the Stillwater Ponies to a 2-1 win over the top seeded Hill-Murray Pioneers.

Both Centennial and Hill-Murray will play in the Class AA quarterfinals next Thursday, March 6 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

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