The two schools share 11 state tournament appearances since 1998 with the Elks claiming the 2004 Class AA title. Anoka was runner-up in 2000 and hasn’t returned since 2005, while the Elks last appeared in 2011.
The trophy developed, according to Anoka officials, after the Elks coach refused to return the stick to Anoka after a game in 2004. Instead, Anoka had to get it during the teams’ next meeting.
Since then, the winner writes the game, year and score somewhere on the stick. Anoka has held onto it since 2010.Leading up to the holiday break, Anoka’s previous five opponents boasted a combined 42-5-0 record.
The list resembles the state rankings instead of a schedule including top-ranked in Class A Thief River Falls and No. 4 East Grand Forks. Class AA No. 10 Blaine and surprisingly strong Robbinsdale Armstrong/Cooper were the last two opponents which lead an ultra competitive Northwest Suburban Conference. Anoka’s been competitive in most of the games including two overtime losses (6-5 against Centennial, Nov. 19 and 3-2 at Robbinsdale, Dec. 14) and a third that ended in a tie (1-1 at Coon Rapids, Nov. 26).
“We’re trying to get the point across right now that it’s not that we’ve just been in games, but we’ve been in games with some of the top teams in the conference and in the state,” coach Pete Hayes said.
“We’ve just got to keep believing here because we aren’t going to play a tougher schedule than we’ve played.”
Included in that schedule were two road games in the northwest portion of the state where they were shutout at East Grand Forks 7-0, Dec. 6. They bounced back against top-ranked Thief River Falls the next day but still lost 3-1.
Hayes said the team showed what it can do when it sticks to the system.
“When we do that, we’re pretty much in each game,” he said.
Keeping the confidence up with a look at the results has been tough, Hayes admitted. “We got so many new people from last year, we’re just trying to figure out the pieces.”
Anoka won three games to capture the Channel 12 Holiday Tournament at New Hope Arena, Dec. 26-28.
Anoka opened with a 3-2 win over Rogers. Tornadoes junior Hailey Miller scored twice including 7:11 into overtime in a 2-1 semifinal win over Champlin Park. Anoka freshman Gabrielle Horsch scored 14 seconds into the second period for the lone score in a 1-0 win over Robbinsdale Armstrong/Cooper in the title game. Anoka leading scorer Blair Parent set up Horsch on the power play tally for her 19th point of the season.
Anoka’s four-game winning streak came to an end in a 4-1 loss to Champlin Park Jan. 4.
Miller scored the lone Tornadoes goal in the first game of 2014. The Rebels out shot Anoka 33-27 including a 12-8 edge in the final period.
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