News flash: It’s been known to snow in Minnesota. Sometimes it gets cold, too. Travel becomes difficult. Schools shut down. Games get postponed or, worst case scenario, cancelled.
Several games fell victim to a Jan. 18 blizzard, most notably this matchup between St. Cloud Cathedral (19-2-1) and East Grand Forks. Luckily for hockey fans who are excited to see a potential Class 1A state tournament showdown, the final day of the regular season was an available makeup date for both teams.
Game on for our Top Game of the Week! Weather permitting, of course.
St. Cloud Cathedral, ranked No. 1 in Class 1A in the coaches' poll from Feb. 6, is coming off a weekend split against top Class 2A teams, losing 5-3 on Friday in a penalty-filled matchup against No. 4-2A Moorhead, then beating Wayzata 7-6 on Saturday with senior Minnesota Duluth commit Jack Smith’s overtime goal.
Smith’s recent return from a shoulder injury bolsters a Crusaders’ lineup that's loaded with standout senior forwards, including Minnesota commit Nate Warner (22 goals), Blake Perbix (26 goals) and Mack Motzko (25 goals).
East Grand Forks won back-to-back state titles in 2014 and 2015. The No. 5-1A Green Wave has suffered two of its four losses this season to Class 1A, Section 8 rival Warroad, which is ranked third in the small-school poll. Moorhead and North Dakota powerhouse Grand Forks Central are the only other teams to beat the Green Wave. The 1-0 loss to Grand Forks Central on Jan. 2 comes with an asterisk, given that a power outage in the third period knocked out lights in the East Grand Forks Civic Arena to force an early end to the game.
The Green Wave (16-4-2, 7-3-0) boast two of the state’s top young talents in freshman forward Jaksen Panzer and sophomore defenseman Trey Ausmus; both of whom have committed to play at North Dakota. After a slow start, with just three goals in his first eight games, Panzer has emerged an offensive force in the second half of the regular season, scoring 14 goals since. Just two freshmen in the state, Prairie Centre’s Eli Fletcher and Kittson Central’s Tyler Hennen, have more goals than Panzer’s 17.
Ausmus has notched eight of his 25 points on the power play for the Green Wave, who are converting 33.8 percent of their extra-man chances.