Crusaders Advance to Semifinals

by Pete Waggoner

St. Paul, M\N - The St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders fought off an impressive first period push from the North Branch Vikings and marched on to a 7-0 win in quarterfinal round action from the Xcel Energy Center.  Nate Warner notched a natural hat trick in the second period for the Crusaders who advanced to the semi-final round and are two wins away from their first state hockey championship.

As the 2019 State Tournament kicked off and the celebration of its 75th Anniversary begins, the two teams delivered a solid battle in first stanza.  North Branch was content in their attempt to slow down the Crusaders who were coming in waves off the rush.  The period was scoreless through the game’s first thirteen minutes and it was the Crusaders Jackson Savoie who scored his 19th of the season at 13:25 from Ethan Cumming and CJ Zins.  The shots on goal were in favor of the Vikings 10-8 after the period.  

Making their first appearance in school history, the Vikings brought everything they had in the first period.  The break wound up fueling the Crusaders (25-4-0) who are winners of five straight games. St. Cloud Cathedral put the pedal to the medal and scored five goals with Jack Smith opening the floodgates with his 28th of the season at 1:40 of the period on the power play. Nate Warner’s short handed tally at 9:53 of the second period was a back-breaking effort and proved to be too much for the Vikings (19-8-2) to rebound from.  

The Crusaders out shot the Vikings 24-2 in the second period and 12-3 in the third period as they took over the game.  The final margin of shots on goal was 45-15 in favor of St. Cloud Cathedral.  Goalie Noah Amundson turned aside all 15 Viking shots for the shutout and Jake Turek was busy in goal for the Vikings making 36 saves in 45:13 of play.  He made way for Braden Weyenberg in goal late in the third period.  

The Crusaders Luke Schmidt had 2g-1a-3pts), Zins had two assists, while Smith and Savoie each a goal and an assist for their team. 

The Crusaders will have a semifinal round game with the East Grand Forks Green Wave at 11am on Friday morning.  The Vikings head to 3M Arena at Mariucci to faceoff with Minnesota River at 10am on Thursday morning.