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St. Cloud Cathedral pulls away late, outduels St. Cloud in Hockey Day Minnesota opener

By Drew Herron, SportsEngine, 01/20/18, 6:00AM CST

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Forward Jack Smith netted a hat trick for the the Crusaders.

St. Cloud Cathedral sophomore Jack Smith celebrates his first period goal against St. Cloud during Hockey Day Minnesota on Saturday. Smith netted a hat trick in the Crusaders' 8-3 victory. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

St. Cloud Cathedral sophomore Jack Smith celebrates his first period goal against St. Cloud during Hockey Day Minnesota on Saturday. Smith netted a hat trick in the Crusaders' 8-3 victory. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

There's a hockey proverb that indicates a goal scored in the first or final minute of a period will prove to be decisive.

St. Cloud Cathedral proved the point emphatically Saturday at Lake George in St. Cloud as the Crusaders netted a goal in the final minute of the second period, and the first minute of the third, tearing open a once-close game and eventually crushing crosstown rival St. Cloud for an 8-3 Hockey Day Minnesota victory.

“The golden rule in hockey is that you don’t give up a goal in the first or last minute of the period, and we got two of those,” said St. Cloud Cathedral coach Derrick Brown. “That gave us a lot of energy and it’s just one of those things where (St. Cloud) probably started pressing a little bit more than they should have, and we took advantage advantage of it.”

St. Cloud Cathedral sophomore Jack Smith, who finished with a hat trick and four points, netted his second goal with 18 seconds left in the second period, and the Crusaders, ranked No. 7 in the Class 1A coaches’ poll, never trailed again.

Seven seconds into the third, Jackson Savoie added another tally for St. Cloud Cathedral, and the rout was on. The Crusaders (12-5-0) added three more to make it six unanswered as St. Cloud Cathedral pulled away.

“It was a big momentum changer,” Smith said. “Heading into the third, we had all the momentum. And (scoring) seven seconds in, it was kind of the nail in the coffin.”

For a Crusaders squad that lost a lot of players from last year’s state tournament team that's now led by a talented but inexperienced sophomore group, Saturday’s victory marked a significant step forward for a team that's looking for consistency. Moreover, the Hockey Day Minnesota stage and atmosphere made this victory one the Crusaders won’t likely forget.

“They’re our crosstown rival and obviously we wanted to beat them big,” Smith said. “We just came out to play today. It was a team effort. We were able to get pucks deep and look at the outcome.”

Fellow sophomore Blake Perbix added a goal and a playmaker to finish with four points as well.

“We wanted this one bad,” Perbix said of the victory. “We haven’t won some of the (games) we’ve needed to, and this one was big.”

St. Cloud (12-5-0) had swung the momentum in its favor for long stretches early on, blocking shots, outshooting and out-hitting its rival, while carving out ample zone time.

As the game wore on, however, the Crusaders' confidence grew while St. Cloud got frustrated. The physical nature of its game wasn’t producing chances, nor had it limited the Crusaders’ chances, and things began to spin out of control for No. 20-2A ranked St. Cloud. With the lead, St. Cloud Cathedral dialed back its forecheck and kept three men back, while effectively limited St. Cloud’s ability to generate its offense on transition.

“We knew their game plan, they were going to try to beat us up,” Brown said. “I think it helped being outside because I don’t think they can play necessarily the way they want to play. I don’t think they ever got into their game...what they wanted to do.”

The victory is also a good bounce back for the Crusaders, who had dropped three of its last four games, including a shutout home loss to Delano on Thursday that left the team concerned and had its confidence shaken.

Saturday’s win on the big stage before a state-wide audience might do wonders towards launching the Crusaders on a late-season run towards a return trip to the state tournament.

“You never know what you’re going to get,” Brown said of his team. “We had a real downer Thursday night and probably should have won that game. I didn’t know how we would rebound after that, but we came ready to play today. I never once felt like we were nervous. I felt like we were pretty loose throughout, and sometimes it’s good to be young because you don’t even know it’s a big moment.”

St. Cloud Cathedral's Nate Martin fights to get around St. Cloud's Luke Johnson on Hockey Day Minnesota, 2018. The Crusaders defeated St. Cloud 8-3. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

St. Cloud Cathedral's Nate Martin fights to get around St. Cloud's Luke Johnson on Hockey Day Minnesota, 2018. The Crusaders defeated St. Cloud 8-3. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

First Report

St. Cloud Cathedral scored six unanswered goals to pull away late and bury crosstown rival St. Cloud for an 8-3 victory Saturday during Hockey Day Minnesota at Lake George in St Cloud.

Sophomore Jack Smith recorded a hat trick and teammate Blake Perbix netted a playmaker to help lead the Crusaders, ranked No. 7 in the Class 1A coaches’ poll, to the win. Both players finished with four points apiece.

The teams swapped scores, answering each other early before St. Cloud Cathedral went on its run, turning a one-goal deficit early in the second period into an eventual rout. Perbix netted the equalizer at 6:19 when No. 20-2A St. Cloud mishandled the puck along the boards on a dump-in, and the Crusaders (12-5-0) never trailed again. Smith scored the go-ahead goal with 18 seconds left in the second period, putting the Crusaders on victory footing.

For good measure, St. Cloud Cathedral added four more goals in the third to finish things off in convincing fashion. Noah Admundson earned the victory in goal for the Crusaders, making 24 saves on 27 shots.

Noah Bissett finished with a goal and an assist to lead St. Cloud (12-5, 6-1), while goaltender Soren Falloon stopped 21 of the 29 shots he faced.

St. Cloud senior Noah Bissett breaks down the wing on a scoring play in the second period of Saturday's Hockey Day Minnesota matchup with St. Cloud Cathedral. St. Cloud  fell to the Crusaders 8-3. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

St. Cloud senior Noah Bissett breaks down the wing on a scoring play in the second period of Saturday's Hockey Day Minnesota matchup with St. Cloud Cathedral. St. Cloud fell to the Crusaders 8-3. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

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