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John’s Journal: The Biggest Statement At The State Hockey Tournament

Cretin-Derham Hall Player Remembers His Buddy With Pregame TV Salute

Posted: Saturday, March 9, 2024 - 5:55 PM




St. Cloud Cathedral players and fans celebrate the Class A state championship.


Cretin-Derham Hall's Jimmy Dodig.

Among the great traditions at the Minnesota state high school hockey tournaments are the televised pregame introductions. One by one, players skate from the end line to the blue line as a TV camera documents their arrival. It’s very common to hear those kids look into the lens and say things like “Hi Mom” or “Hi Grandma.”

Jimmy Dodig, a junior defenseman at Cretin-Derham Hall, had his moment in the spotlight before Thursday’s Class AA state quarterfinal matchup with Centennial at Xcel Energy Center. As much as Jimmy loves his parents and grandparents and lots of other folks, that’s not who he saluted when the camera was on him.

As he came to a stop on the blue line, he looked into the lens and said, “I miss you, buddy.”

For more than a year, Jimmy and everyone at Cretin-Derham Hall has been missing Cormick Scanlan. He played football, hockey and baseball for the Raiders and was a 16-year-old sophomore when he died on Christmas 2022 from complications from a stroke earlier that month.

Cormick, or “Mick” as he was known to many, never had the opportunity to play at the big arena in downtown St. Paul. But his buddy Jimmy carried Mick with him.

“He was a teammate we lost last year and he's someone I really think about every day,” Jimmy said. “It’s something that last year our team embraced fully and this year, some of the guys didn't know him but it's still like a motto we have. We just work like he did and just go hard.”

Cormick’s beautifully-written obituary included these words …

We will all miss his flawless lefty baseball swing, his hockey speed beating the defender wide, his football linebacker mentality that never quit and the joy he found in countless rounds of golf with his buddies. 

He was a gamer, a Lego master builder, a Star Wars geek, a Geography Bee and Home Run Derby Champ. He had a laugh that could launch a thousand giggles, an easy smile that reflected his happy-go-lucky demeanor and beautiful eyes that were the most ethereal shade of green. 

Before Cormick’s funeral, a visitation was held at Cretin-Derham Hall.

Off the ice at the state tournament, Jimmy wore a stocking cap of purple and gold … the school colors. Embroidered into the cap was Mick’s number 17 underneath a halo.

“I wear this to every game just to represent him,” Jimmy said. “He was one of my good buddies.”

Cathedral’s Family Tradition

When St. Cloud Cathedral defeated Hermantown 3-1 to win the Class A boys hockey state title Saturday, there was no happier household than the Hirschfelds. Crusaders junior forward John Hirschfeld became the third brother from the family to play at state and the second to win a championship.

When John was younger, he watched his brothers Jeron (class of 2018) and Jacob (class of 2021) play at state. Jeron played there as a junior (Cathedral finished third) and a sophomore (fifth). Jacob did so as a junior (the team finished third) and a sophomore, when Cathedral won the 2019 Class A title, the Crusaders’ only previous boys state hockey title.

John, the Crusaders’ leading scorer this season, was named to the TruStone Financial all-tournament team Saturday, with good reason. He had a goal and three assists in a 5-1 quarterfinal win over Northfield; two goals against Warroad in the semifinals, tying the game near the end of regulation and netting the winner for a 4-3 overtime victory; and two assists in Saturday’s 3-1 championship triumph over Hermantown.

Cathedral coach Robbie Stocker said of John, “He’s the third Hirschfeld that’s come through and he's seen a lot of state tournaments. He's seen this moment a lot and he’s probably played that scenario in his head, being in the X, watching his brothers do the same thing. And so sometimes you visualize that and I think you can manifest that in reality.

“He's the hardest working guy on our team. He doesn't take a drill off, ever. Sometimes, like (Thursday), I had to tell him to not work so hard in practice because we have the state semifinals tomorrow, which as a coach, that's a great problem to have. And we’ve got a lot of guys like that on this team, which is probably why we've been so resilient.”

--In the semifinal between Cathedral and Warroad, a Warroad goal was initially waved off but after video review the goal was called good. Stocker said he understood and appreciated the job that officials have, including replay officials.

“We don't get paid to make those calls. They do, and so we have to trust that they're making the right call. They're the professionals and that's why we get reviews.”

The Highs, The Lows, The Results

In one of the most nerve-wracking and exciting games of the tournament, Hermantown beat Mahtomedi 7-6 in the Class A semifinals. Hermantown led 4-0 after the first period, the Zephyrs scored three goals in the second and three more in the third, including goals by Sam Harris and Max Strecker in the final two minutes to make it 6-6. Hermantown got the win when River Freeman scored in overtime.

It was a come-from-behind, rally-or-die kind of contest for the Zephyrs.

Mahtomedi coach Jeff Poeschl smiled and said after the game, “Note to self: Don't give Hermantown a 4-0 lead.”

“I told (the players) we can roll over and die, just throw up our hands and pack up our stuff and go or we can make a decision to make it a game,” he said of the 4-0 deficit. “I was really proud of the way my guys responded.”

Hermantown coach Patrick Andrews also grinned as he said, “Just like we drew it up.”

Andrews was asked this question: “You go up 4-0 but it was so early. Was there ever a point where you thought, ‘Oh no, it's too early?’ ”

He didn’t hesitate in replying. “No. Never,” he said. “That's like the stupid saying that a 2-0 lead is the worst. You have a two-goal lead. Like you're not going to take a lead?”

This Is An Unbelievable Kid”

After Cretin-Derham Hall’s 6-1 loss to Chanhassen in Friday’s Class 2A state semifinals, Raiders coach Matt Funk was sitting at a table in the media room with seniors Aidan Siegfried, Leo Miller and Chuck Owens. Miller, who was sitting between Siegfried and Owens, did not start in the semifinal, with the nod going to junior Owen Nelson. Chanhassen took a 4-0 first-period lead, at which point Miller came in to replace Nelson. Leo made 14 saves in the final two periods.

“This is an unbelievable kid in the middle there,” Funk said, nodding toward Leo. “He's been all class … And I love that kid. Whatever he does next is going to be big, because he's just an all-around unbelievable human. It's the type of kid that you want to coach. It's the type of kid that if you have daughters, you hope your daughter finds somebody like this kid. He's a tremendous kid.”

Leo was tearing up at hearing these words from his coach. He grabbed the front of his jersey and wiped his eyes.

That quiet scene, in a room with a hockey coach, three hockey players and a handful of reporters, spoke volumes about what high school activities mean.

--MSHSL senior content creator John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at [email protected] 

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