Crusaders Advance to First Title Game

by Matt Harrington

The St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders have made it to the State Tournament nine times in their history, but have somehow never advanced to the Class A Championship. That changed Friday afternoon as the Crusaders rolled past East Grand Forks and to a 6-2 victory. 

The second-seeded Crusaders jumped on the scoreboard first, less than four minutes into the game. A Green Wave turnover at the blue line resulted in a breakaway for Jack Smith, who had no problem burying it past goaltender Tucker Brown. Less than two minutes later the Crusaders struck again. This time it was Ethan Cumming, who redirected a shot from CJ Zins at the point. St. Cloud Cathedral had already scored twice in a matter of minutes to make it 2-0.

East Grand Forks needed a response, and they got it with a power play goal five minutes later. Landon Parker gifted a nice backhand pass to freshman Trey Ausmus, who delivered a nice shot from the left wing that beat Amundson.

Already with a tip-in goal, the Crusaders would work their magic again late in the period. Camped out in front of the net, Cullen Hiltner got the twig on a bullet of a shot from Jon Bell, giving the Crusaders their two goal late back before finishing out the first period. 

In the second period, the Green Wave applied a boatload of offensive pressure, but it was the Crusaders who struck to make it 4-1. Digging in front of the net, Jack Smith was able to find the loose puck in front of the net and record the goal.The Green Wave's ferocious attack in the second frame finally paid off as Cole Avery knotted a goal of his own. With all their players back behind the goal, the Crusaders lost track of Avery in front, and he had no issue potting the shorthanded tally. Despite trailing 4-2 after two periods, the Green Wave lead in shots 24-17.

The Crusaders brought an intensity of their own to begin the third period. They cut the shot deficit down from 24-17 to to 25-21 early on, and got another goal, this time from the talented Jackson Savoie. Savoie took a wrap-around shot that fooled the goaltender, giving the Crusaders a 5-2 edge. Blake Perbix added an empty net goal to seal the Crusaders win and send them to their first ever Class A Championship game. 

They will face the winner of Mahtomedi and Greenway tomorrow afternoon.