St. Cloud Cathedral makes it dramatic with an overtime winner over Warroad

Joey Gillespie had three shots on net in the Crusaders 4-3 overtime win against Warroad.

Happy Semifinals Friday hockey fans. Today’s action starts with St. Cloud Cathedral looking to replicate their 2019 State Championship season and Warroad, the back-to-back Class A runner-up. The Warriors look to get over the hump and get the one final win to etch their name in history. But, first, they have to get past St. Cloud Cathedral who is having a great season too. The Semi Finals are where dreams start to become more real, and a place where legends are born. 

The Crusaders got a big performance from goalie Nick Hansen and two goals from John Hirschfeld as they took down the two-time defending Class A runner-ups Warroad 4-3 in overtime.

Warroad came flying out of the gates and silenced the Crusaders faithful with a goal 26 seconds in. Taven James netted his first of the tournament on a rush pass from Carson Pilgrim to give the Warriors an early 1-0 lead. Cathedral responded well, spending good time in the Warriors zone, but amounting to nothing in the net. The first penalty of the game came at the 7:52 mark of the period when Landon Swenson was called for slashing, putting the dangerous Warrior power play on the ice. Warroad showed they are not to be messed with when Reed Larson Award finalist Ryan Lund netted his second goal of the tournament to put the Warriors up 2-0 after the first period. 

The second period started with two Cathedral penalties giving Warroad a 5-on-3 power play. The Crusaders’ PK came through in a big way, killing off both penalties and giving Cathedral some life. St. Cloud got a power play of their own at the 8:10 mark of the third period when Ryan Lund was called for hooking. The Crusaders hit 21.8% with the extra skater and they showed why, scoring with just a couple of seconds left on the PP when Griffin Sturm netted his first of the tournament. The Crusaders found the spark they needed. 

John Hirschfeld scored the game tying goal and game winning goal in overtime.

After killing off their fourth penalty of the period, Cathedral tied the game at 2-2. Cole Hwang got a great diving pass from Landon Swenson right in the slot and rifled it past Norris. Cathedral won the second period and took a 2-2 tie into the third frame with Warroad. 

St. Cloud Cathedral found themselves back in penalty trouble in the second period getting called for a five-minute major, but similar to the second, the Hansen and the Crusaders came up huge. Hansen showed his agility, sliding post to post to stop a point-blank back-door shot with the pad. 

“If he didn’t make that save, we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in,” said Head Coach Robert Stocker. 

The Warriors had just a few seconds remaining on their power play, and they sent home the go-ahead goal. Ryan Shaugabay stuffed it past Hansen’s pad to give the Warriors a 3-2 lead with 6:22 remaining. The play was initially waved off, but after review, the officials deemed it a good goal. The Crusaders had a chance to even the score once again when Warroad was called for tripping with 2:44 remaining in the game. After a couple of huge saves by Norris on the PK, Warroad had a 2-on-1 chance short-handed but as sure-handed Hansen has been all game, he came up huge with a save on Carson Pilgrim. 

“When you take a lot of penalties in a game, you need your goalie to be the best penalty killer and he was tonight,” said Head Coach Stocker. 

Cathedral pulled their netminder for the extra attacker with over a minute remaining and it was crunch time for the Crusaders. The extra skater paid dividends for Cathedral as their top-scorer all year John Hirschfeld came through again with his second goal of the tournament, and possibly the biggest goal of his career. There was extra hockey to be played inside the Xcel Energy Center. 

It took just under two minutes into the overtime period for Hirschfeld to net his second of the game off a rebound. 

“It feels great, I’ve been here many times watching my brothers. I just had the puck bounce out to me, and I saw the open net so I got it in,”said Hirschfeld. 

After allowing the first shot of the game, and another in the first period, Hansen was huge in net, stopping 30 of 33 shots. 

“He was incredible, he made so many key saves for us,” said Stocker. 

The Crusaders move on to their second championship game since 2019 when they were crowned champions. St. Cloud Cathedral will face the winner of Hermantown and Mahtomedi on Saturday for a state title.