State Boys Hockey: St. Cloud Cathedral tops Northfield in Class A quarterfinals

Highlights: St. Cloud Cathedral beats Northfield Class A quarterfinals boys hockey

During the opening weekend of the 2023-2024 season and in its second game, St. Cloud Cathedral recorded an overtime victory over Warroad. Many wondered then if that might be a prelude to another matchup down the road. It was.

St. Cloud Cathedral, the No. 3 seed in the Minnesota State High School League’s Class A Boys Hockey tournament, forged a rematch following its 6-1 victory over Northfield in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, March 6 at the Xcel Energy Center. Junior wing Joey Gillespie scored two goals during a four-goal spree that would send the Crusaders (24-4-1) into Friday’s Class A semifinals opposite No. 2 Warroad (24-5-0). Warroad advanced earlier with an 8-1 victory over New Ulm.

***Click the video box above to watch highlights of St. Cloud Cathedral’s win***

St. Cloud Cathedral, which must have felt somewhat claustrophobic in the midst of Northfield’s defense, finally found some openings in the second period and scored twice in a 1 minute, 16-second span to build a 3-1 lead. Senior Landon Swenson broke the 1-all duel on a second-effort goal with 9:34 elapsed in the period. After an initial shot by senior defenseman Thomas Rosenkrans hit Northfield junior goalie Max Frank, Swenson was in front of the crease to corral an initial rebound. When that whack didn’t work, he had the presence of mind to stick with it and fired a second shot into the right side of the goal.

The Crusaders’ lead doubled moments later when Gillespie sent a sizzling wrist shot from the top of the far circle during the power play.

St. Cloud Cathedral efficiently opened the quarterfinal with a goal on its first shot, a tally by junior center John Hirschfeld just 18 seconds into the game. It was his 25th goal of the season. The Crusaders would manage just five more shots the rest of the first period which ended in a 1-all deadlock.

As well, the Crusaders’ lead was short-lived. Less than four minutes later, sophomore center Oliver Benjamin found the equalizer on an even-strength goal. He engineered the play by wheeling around the St. Cloud Cathedral goal. As he centered himself in the near circle to set up a shot, he fired while falling and the puck sailed past senior goalie Nick Hansen.

The Crusaders put the lead out of reach behind third-period goals from senior wing Andrew Dwinnell and another from Gillespie.

Courtesy: Minnesota State High School League