St. Could Cathedral hog-piles after the final buzzer sounded on Saturday's 5-2 win over Greenway. Photo: Nick Wosika.
Sometimes Goliath wins.
St. Cloud Cathedral, the No. 1 seed in the Class 1A field, with a record of 26-4, eventually wore down tournament-darling Greenway in a 5-2 victory on Saturday afternoon to claim the program's first state championship.
“We said at the beginning of the year (that) we had unfinished business, and today we trashed the briefcase,” St. Cloud Cathedral coach Derrick Brown said, referring to the physical representation of the team’s mantra that they’ve been hauling around with them all season.
“It’s a dream come true for me, and I know it’s a dream come true for all these guys,” Brown added.
The dream nearly started as a nightmare.
Already down 1-0, St. Cloud Cathedral’s Luke Schmidt appeared to score the tying goal, but the deflection was waved off by a partially blocked official. With no whistle, Greenway raced down the ice and slammed home a rebound.
With the stoppage of play, the officials consulted a handful of replays and eventually awarded Schmidt’s goal and wiped away Greenway’s would-be second goal.
“I’m going to be honest, I’ve been kind of anti-having the instant replay down here because we don’t have it all year, and I’m very, very thankful (right now),” Brown said, admitting that he thought for a few moments that Greenway’s goal would stand and his team would be down 2-0.
“I’m a big proponent now of this instant replay because it truly did change the game,” Brown said.
Goal-reversal aside, Greenway was unable to score three straight power plays, including a five-minute advantage when Crusaders defenseman Talon Lenzen was called for boarding.
“The five-minute penalty, not being able to score on that was kind of…wind out of the sails, I would say,” Greenway coach Grant Clafton said. “Giving (a) shorthanded goal doesn’t help, either.”
Greenway's Donte Lawson was named the Class 1A Herb Brooks Award winner after the title game. Photo: Nick Wosika.
Jackson Savoie scored that shorthanded tally for the Crusaders (27-4), which was equaled by Greenway’s Cameron Lantz 35 seconds later. Savoie scored his second goal of the game early in the second, and his goal was followed by a score from Jack Smith, who said the team relished being the villain against the emotional-favorite Raiders.
“Everybody who wasn’t wearing blue and gold in there was cheering for Greenway,” Smith said. “When everybody’s cheering against you, and you score a big goal, it goes quiet,” Smith continued. “I kinda like that.”
Goaltender Noah Amundson was spectacular for the Crusaders, stopping 27 of 29 shots in the win.
The Xcel Energy Center was rarely quiet on Saturday afternoon, with the action on the ice and intense atmosphere charged with electricity.
“I think Class A is doing a great job expanding its reach, but the quality of the games is so much better, too,” Brown said, a veteran of the Class 1A scene in his time with the Crusaders and southern power Luverne.
Clafton added that his team, which was seeded third in its own section before upsetting No. 1 ranked Hermantown, is a prime example of pure Class 1A hockey.
“I think it’s a great tribute to the kids,” Clafton said. “The reality is wheat these guys did is extremely unique, and it’s what single-A hockey is.”
St. Cloud Cathedral's Nate Warner (8) celebrates in mid-air during Saturday's win. Photo: Nick Wosika.