Crusaders win First State Title

by Matt Harrington

For the first time in school history, the St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders have won a Boys Class A Hockey Championship. They defeated Greenway 5-2 in today's championship game. 

2:20 into the first, Greenway star Donte Lawson knotted a power play goal for his club. Creeping down near the red line, Lawson buried a shallow angle wrist shot from the right corner. 

Less than two minutes later, the Crusaders answered. It was a bizarre sequence, as the shot from Luke Schmidt was waved off on the ice because the official believed it didn't go in. Play continued, and several seconds later, Greenway scored to make it 2-0. The officials immediately reviewed the St. Cloud Cathedral goal and determined that the puck did indeed go in, and gave the goal to Schmidt. Since it counted, the potential second goal from Greenway was waved off. In a massive momentum swing, the Crusaders had evened the game early in the first period. Late in the first frame, special teams proved to make a massive impact. On the power play, Greenway got caught in their own end and lost track of the Crusaders players in front. That allowed for a wide open Jackson Savoie to put home a shorthanded goal for the Crusaders and give them their first lead of the day, 2-1.

Still on the power play, Greenway tied the game once again, this time from Cameron Lantz. Lantz blasted a beautiful slap shot from the point that beat goaltender Noah Amundson clean. A wild first period had come to an end with the score even at 2-2. 

The Crusaders came on strong to begin the second period, and regained their lead just 1:42 in. A battle along the wall resulted in a loose puck for Jackson Savoie, who, no surprise, finished with a goal from the top left circle. The Crusaders had their lead back just like that.

Greenway had a critical chance to even the game up after a major boarding penalty to St. Cloud Cathedral's Talon Lenzen. The Raiders had good setup chances, but the Crusaders did a great job from preventing many pucks to go through. 

The Crusaders got a big power play opportunity in the 2nd and made the most of it, converting for the first time. Jack Smith scored his 4th goal of the tournament after getting a perfect pass from Nate Warner. The tic-tac-toe goal gave the Crusaders a 4-2 edge through two periods of play. The third period was a lot of back and forth action, but the Greenway Raiders were unable to get a bounce to go their way. Crusader's goaltender Noah Amundson was phenomenal in net, preventing Greenway from creeping back in to the game. The Crusaders scored an empty netter thanks to the stick of Nate Warnert, and officially sealed a 5-2 victory and the first championship in St. Cloud Cathedral history.

Despite the loss, the Greenway Raiders emerged as the underog and fan favorites, and they had quite the tournament. They weren't even supposed to make the tournament with Hermantown in their section. Senior Donte Lawson emerged as one of Class A's most talented players and St. Cloud State commit Ben Troumbly was the hero in their semifinal victory.

Together, the two teams combined for nine players in the All-Tournament Team. 

Edina and Eden Prairie will face off in the Class AA Championship Saturday night.