Click photos to view the entire gallery from the game
As St. Thomas Academy was closing in on a blowout win over Metro East Conference rival Mahtomedi on Tuesday, Cadets senior forward Cade Huntley had a point-blank shot at the net and a chance to pick up that hat trick.
But instead of firing the puck to the net, Huntley passed it off to junior forward Brendan McFadden who finished off the play with his first goal of the game.
“It felt like the right move at the moment,” Huntley said. “Why not give (McFadden) a shot?”
St. Thomas Academy co-head coach Greg Vannelli said after Tuesday’s game that this year’s team is one of the most unselfish teams he has coached. That was put on display as the Cadets rolled past the Zephyrs 8-0 while 10 players registered points in the blowout win.
For St. Thomas Academy, which is ranked No. 2 in the Class 2A coaches’ poll, Tuesday’s game was a chance to rebound from Saturday’s 4-3 overtime loss on the road at No. 15-2A Dultuh Marshall. It was the Cadets’ first loss since a season-opening 5-4 loss to Minnetonka on Nov. 24.
“Tonight was a bad time for these guys to play us,” Vannelli said. “Our guys were a little irritated after losing Saturday’s game.”
St. Thomas Academy (19-2-1, 9-0) rebounded in a big way from Saturday’s loss by jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, thanks to goals from Huntley and junior forward Ben Stucker.
The two-goal period was enough for Mahtomedi (14-6-1, 7-3-1) to pull junior goaltender Bailey Huber. From there, the rout was on for the Cadets. They tallied six goals in the final two periods against Zephyrs’ senior goalie Josh Campbell and junior John Poirier.
The eight-goal performance was the third best offensive showing for St. Thomas Academy this season.
“When the puck starts going in like that, sometimes it just keeps going your way,” Vannelli said. “We played a real tight game tonight.”
On the defensive side, the Cadets held No. 2-1A Mahtomedi off the scoreboard in the win. After St. Thomas Academy blew a 3-1 lead in Saturday’s loss, the Cadets looked to improve some things on the back end.
“We needed to focus on good game management with our defensemen,” Vannelli said. “We just needed to be more careful and have better judgment on when to pinch-in.”
In goal, senior Atticus Kelly continued his strong senior campaign as he picked up his second shutout in four games and his third of the season.
“He’s just fantastic,” Huntley said. “He just has such a great senior presence. He makes it a lot easier for us.”
Tuesday’s road game was the fourth consecutive for St. Thomas Academy. All of those have come in the past six days. The Cadets close out the road swing on Saturday against Henry Sibley. So far, the team’s lone hiccup came against the Hilltoppers.
“This sort of stretch is helpful when it comes to sections,” Vannelli said. “But first, we get some days off before our next game.”
After the game, Huntley brushed off any notion that the team was fatigued by the road stretch. He continued to praise the group as a whole and the goals the team has in mind.
“We’re not worried about what locker room we’re in,” Huntley said. “We’re just always getting focused. The only thing we’re worried about is getting to the (Xcel Energy Center).”
After defeating Mahtomedi 3-1 on Jan. 6, St. Thomas Academy completed the sweep of its Metro East Conference foe in a big way as the Cadets defeated the Zephyrs 8-0 on Tuesday at the St. Croix Rec Center in Stillwater.
St. Thomas Academy, which is ranked No. 2 in the Class 2A coaches’ poll, started strong with a pair of goals in the opening period. Senior forward Cade Huntley scored first. Junior forward Ben Stucker made it 2-0 late in the first.
In the second, the Cadets (19-2-1, 9-0) continued to pounce on Mahtomedi as St. Thomas Academy scored four goals in the period and outshot the No. 2-1A Zephyrs 15-3. Senior defenseman Chase Foley opened the floodgates for the Cadets just 34 seconds into the period.
Foley’s goal was followed up by Huntley’s second score of the game along with a pair of tallies from senior forward Ray Christy.
In the third period, two more St. Thomas Academy players found the net as junior forwards Ryan O’Neill and Brendan McFadden each added a goal.
The St. Thomas Academy onslaught started against junior goaltender Bailey Huber, who was pulled after making 14 saves in the first period. Senior goalie Josh Campbell and junior John Poirier each got time in net while coming on in relief for Mahtomedi (14-6-1, 7-3-1) and surrendered the final six goals.
Cadets senior goalie Atticus Kelly picked up his third shutout of the season while stopping 16 shots in the win.
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