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Class A Boys Hockey State Championship: St. Cloud Cathedral 3, Hermantown 1

Warroad takes third place, Orono wins consolation

Posted: Saturday, March 9, 2024 - 3:21 PM

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A foundation for a championship was poured a year ago when the St. Cloud Cathedral boys hockey team finished its 2022-2023 season by winning the consolation final of the Minnesota State High School League’s Boys Hockey State Tournament. Winning the final game of the season felt good to the Crusaders, but they dared to dream for more.

To accomplish the task this season, would mean doing so from the No. 3 seed in the Class A field. That’s doable, of course, but it takes grit, determination, and high-level skill because you likely have to beat the two teams seeded above you to make the dream a reality.

Mission accomplished. Dream realized.

St. Cloud Cathedral completed its championship journey with a 3-1 victory over top-seeded Hermantown on Saturday, March 9 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Crusaders’ first line shined behind senior wing Andrew Dwinnell, who scored two goals and assisted on another while junior wing Joey Gillespie had a goal and two assists. First-line center John Hirschfeld had two assists in bringing the second title to the school since 2019. The Crusaders have made 12 state tournament appearances.

“They have worked toward this all year long after winning the consolation final last year,” longtime St. Cloud Cathedral Activities Director Emmett Keenan said. “They set a goal, worked tirelessly as a team, and reaped the reward today. Our school and community are proud of them for their relentless pursuit of a dream.”

St. Cloud Cathedral (26-4-1), which finished the season on a 15-game winning streak, earned a berth in the Class A championship game with a dramatic overtime victory over No. 2 Warroad in Friday’s semifinals. In the quarterfinals, St. Cloud Cathedral cruised past Northfield for a 5-1 victory.

“I had a strong feeling that they were going to win the whole thing,” said Northfield senior Jake Geiger, who watched the awards ceremony on Saturday as the Class A recipient of the Herb Brooks Award. “It was the way they played against us and then Warroad, you just got that sense they were on a mission.”

St. Cloud Cathedral struck first with nearly four minutes elapsed in the first period. After a Hermantown turnover at center ice, the Crusaders took advantage of a sudden 3-on-2 rush. On a weaving pattern, junior center Hirschfeld slid a pass cross ice to Dwinnell, who cranked up with a one-time slapper that beat Hermantown senior goalie Dane Callaway. It was Dwinnell’s 28th goal of the season.

That lead stood the test of time and Hermantown’s surges until the Crusaders added two goals late in the third period for a stunning three-goal cushion. Dwinnell added his second and Gillespie had an even-strength goal with less than five minutes remaining in regulation.

Hermantown (20-9-2) broke through on a goal from sophomore center AJ Francisco with just more than a minute remaining in regulation.

St. Cloud Cathedral senior goal Nick Hanson made 28 saves to preserve the victory. He finished the season 19-0-1 and made 77 saves during the Crusaders’ three-game state tournament run.

Third place: Senior center Carson Pilgrim and senior wing Murray Marvin-Cordes ended their prep careers on a high note with a goal and two assists each in sending Warroad to a 4-1 victory over Mahtomedi in the third-place game. A season ago, the teams met in the Class A championship game, won by Mahtomedi. In the latest matchup, Warroad (25-6-0) took control early with three goals in the first period. Marvin-Cordes started out the spree with nearly seven minutes elapsed and junior linemate James Taven added another before Pilgrim completed the first-period blitz. Senior goalie Ben Norris made 30 saves to preserve the early lead. Mahtomedi (18-13-0) got a goal from senior wing Jake Hood-Chlebeck midway through the third period.

Consolation: Junior forward Trey Landa scored midway through the second period and it stood as the only goal Orono would need in a 1-0 victory over Northfield in the consolation final at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood. Senior goalie Peyton Anderson made 26 saves to preserve the shutout for the Spartans (22-9-0). Northfield (23-6-2) outshot the Spartans 26-23.

2024 BHO Class A Champs

St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders, 2024 Class A Boys Hockey State Champions

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