Hermantown forward Blake Biondi (center) celebrated his first-period goal with teammates Zach Kilen (left) and Joey Pierce, giving the Hawks a 2-0 lead in the first period. Photo: LEILA NAVIDI • firstname.lastname@example.org
Hermantown built a three-goal lead to start the semifinal Friday against St. Cloud Cathedral. Whether the Hawks could finish became the critical question.
They had been here before, blowing big leads in an eventual tie with the Crusaders in January. Hawks coach Patrick Andrews dismissed the stalemate as “ancient history” and his players proved him correct.
A 6-2 takedown of the defending Class 1A state champion Crusaders brought Hermantown a minor upset in front of an announced record crowd of 12,836 fans.
“We play fast and we try to play physical,” Andrews said. “We’re hard to handle when we do that.”
Passionate hockey from both strong teams showed in the thundering checks that left strewn bodies on the ice. But Hermantown’s offensive prowess made the difference.
Two hockey teams that don’t like each other got together in a game almost anyone could love.
Passionate, skilled hockey produced big hits and great goals. In the end, Hermantown unseated defending Class 1A champion St. Cloud Cathedral in a 6-2 minor upset Friday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center.
No. 3 seed Hermantown (22-3-4) led 2-0 after the first period on goals from Cole Antcliff and Blake Biondi.
The teams played to a 5-5 tie on Jan. 3 and some bad blood remained. As the first period ended Friday, players from both teams pushed, shoved and tackled opponents to the ice. A combined seven players were assessed penalties but none were ejected.
Hermantown kept its edge in the second period, outshooting No. 2 seed St. Cloud Cathedral (24-3-1) 22-7. Cayden Sunde out the Hawks ahead 3-0. But a Nate Warner goal gave the Crusaders hope.
By the third period, fans filled the club level seats. The upper level was opened to accommodate additional fans.
St. Cloud Cathedral scored next on a power-play goal from Ethan Cumming at 6:41 of the third period and cut Hermantown’s lead to 3-2.
When the teams played in January, the Crusaders overcame deficits of 4-0 and 5-2 to salvage the tie. But on Friday, the Hawks held tight to their lead. Joey Pierce knocked a puck home for a 4-2 edge at 10:54 of the third period.
Check back later for more on the game.