In a clash of styles that featured the positionally sound Warroad Warriors and the skilled St. Cloud Cahtedral Crusaders, it was the calm Warriors that prevailed by a score of 4-3 in a hard fought Semi-Final contest. Michael Pieper had 3 assists, all from shots generated from the blue line, Brett Hebel had a goal and two assists, and Dane Shaugabay added two goals, one an empty netter, to figure in the victory.
It was tense throughout the contest as it took 14 minutes for either team to tally. Shaugabay connected on the powerplay as he was camped to the right of Crusader goalie Nick Maiers. The initial shot came from Pieper who hit Brett Hebel in the slot with the shot. It caromed to the waiting Shaugabay who deposited it into the open net as Maiers could not adjust and get over quick enough.
The Warriors (28-2-0) took the 1-0 lead to the intermission. It did not last long in the second however, as Jon Larkin picked a rebound in the slot, as he wheeled and fired he sent a well placed puck past the blocker of Warrior goalie Jason Goldsmith to tie the game at one at 4:47.
Puck possession and offensive zone opportunity back and forth and the two teams continued that trend as the Warriors went up by a 2-1 score on a power play goal, their second of the game and 4th in four tries during the tournament. Brock Nelson again took a pass from Brett Hebel and fed it to the back door as Nelson rapped in the puck. Again, it was a Pieper shot from the point that started the opportunity.
Just :22 later, Joe Nessler tied the score at two as he walked off the right boards with a straight view to the net. He shot, and beat Goldsmith under the arm as it wobbled in for the 2-2 tie. The second period ended with nothing solved and the tight checking game also saw the teams within one shot after two as the Warriors took a 15-14 advantage to the locker room.
The third period began with more of the same until things got a little squirly. Chris Sylvester scored on a 3-1 from Mickey Knox as defenseman Nate Schmidt was left to sprawl and try to make a play. As he did it was Sylvester with a perfect angle to the top of the crease and a well placed pass from the right side past the sprawling Schmidt for the 3-2 lead.
The Crusaders (26-3-1) flexed their muscle again as Alex Koopeiners took a pass from Kyle Kudak off the left post to beat Goldsmith to tie the game at 3 at 8:33. The goal was all about Kudak who won the race to the puck on the end boards and carried to Goldsmith's left. From the back hand, he swept a pass to the on coming Koopmieners who was racing up the left side and had the well placed goal for the 3-3 tie.
Not to be outdone, it was Hebel who picked up the game winning goal and scored off a deflection from guess who? Pieper. The goal came at 9:07 as three goals were scored between the two teams in 1:58. Shaugabay added the empty net goal as the Warriors cinched up the defensive play on the Crusaders to pick up the win.
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