Ryan O'Neill (12) of St. Thomas Academy celebrated after scoring a goal in the first period. Photo: CARLOS GONZALEZ • firstname.lastname@example.org
Duluth East shots hit pipes. The clinching St. Thomas Academy goal came on a deflection at center ice. The hockey gods showed the Cadets favor throughout their 3-1 quarterfinal victory on Thursday.
“We’ve played in a lot of games that went the other way,” St. Thomas Academy co-head coach Greg Vannelli said. “I guess it was our turn this year.”
No. 4 seed St. Thomas Academy (25-3-1) won its first quarterfinal game in four tries since opting up to Class 2A. But more than fortunate bounces made the difference.
The Cadets’ deep defensive corps was stout, their skilled forwards opportunistic.
Ryan O’Neill’s second goal of the game, coming at 9:45 of the third period, gave St. Thomas Academy a 2-1 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
With a nod to the abundance of height on the Duluth East roster, Greyhounds coach Mike Randolph joked that he brought a basketball team to St. Paul for the hockey state tournament.
But St. Thomas Academy got the key bounce.
Defenseman McClain Beaudette redirected a Duluth East pass attempt near center ice for an empty-net goal with 1:28 to play and clinched a 3-1 victory for the Cadets in the last Class 2A quarterfinal Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.
No. 4 seed St. Thomas Academy (25-3-1) won its first quarterfinal game in four tries since opting up to Class 2A.
Ryan O’Neill’s second goal of the game, coming at 9:45 of the third period, gave St. Thomas Academy a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
O’Neill had put St. Thomas Academy ahead 1-0 midway through the first period, rifling a puck into the top corner of the Duluth East net for his 20th goal of the season.
Charlie Erickson returned serve for Duluth East in the second period, corralling the puck on a power play and backhanding the puck top shelf. Erickson’s ninth goal of the season came at 12:45.
No. 5 seed Duluth East (18-7-2), which pounded Andover throughout an overtime victory in last week’s Section 7 championship game, rattled the boards Thursday but failed to unnerve the Cadets.
A blue-collar defensive corps withstood the blows and even dished a few of their own.
Co-head coach Greg Vannelli said earlier this week that such play, especially in the defensive zone, would be key for his team.
Check back later for more on the game.