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St. Cloud Cathedral defeats Northfield in MSHSL boys hockey Class 1A quarterfinals

The Crusaders held the Raiders scoreless in the second and third period to advance in the Minnesota boys high school hockey state tournament

The No. 3-seed St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders (24-4-1) defeated the Northfield Raiders (22-5-2) 5-1 in the Class 1A quarterfinal of the 2024 MSHSL boys hockey state tournament on Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center.

St. Cloud Cathedral scored 18 seconds into the game. John Hirschfeld scored an unassisted goal for the Crusaders. 

The lead didn't last long. Caydon Monson tied the game for Northfield with his own unassisted goal. 

Both teams traded opportunities for the remainder of the first period and first half of the second period. 

"I think we had the typical state-tournament nerves," St. Cloud Cathedral head coach Robbie Stocker said. "Once we settled into that, we started to dictate the pace of the game."

St. Cloud Cathedral pulled away in the middle of the second period. The Crusaders started to sustain pressure in the Raiders' end, and it paid off with a goal from Landon Swenson. 

The Crusaders capitalized on a power play just minutes later. Joey Gillespie ripped a one-timer for a 3-1 Crusaders lead. The Crusaders went 2-for-2 on the power play in the game.

"They rotate quite a bit up at the top of the blue line," Northfield coach Mike Luckraft said. "Gillespie, you could kind of seeing coming from the angle of the bench. ... It was literally the perfect screen."

St. Cloud Cathedral dominated the third period. Andrew Dwinnel, on the power play, and Gillespie added goals for the Crusaders.

The Crusaders put 28 shots on goal to Northfield's 20. Crusader goaltender Nick Hansen made 19 saves. 

"We're playing good hockey," Stocker said. "We had a little rough stretch at the start. of the season, but I think that allowed us to figure out some things, especially on the d-end, but since we've shored that up and got our leader back in net, we've had a lot of confidence moving forward."

St. Cloud Cathedral will play No. 2-seed Warroad in the Class 1A semifinals on Friday at 11 a.m. at the Xcel Energy Center. The Crusaders defeated the Warriors 3-2 in overtime on November 25. 

"That game feels like a really long time ago because it was a really long time ago," Stocker said. "I remember it being a really good up-and-down, high tempo game. Obviously, their first line and their first D-pair is phenomenal."

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- Jack Butler | | @Butler917