4 Lessons from St. Cloud Metro High School Vacation Hockey Tournaments

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The holiday tournaments are on the books after a hectic week of women’s and men’s hockey.

Each team competed statewide and had the opportunity to grow as a team and prepare for the second half of the season.

Some teams had good unbeaten weeks and continued their momentum into January, while other teams lost close games.

Here are a few takeaways from a few busy and eventful days of holiday tournaments for the Saint-Cloud metro teams.

The balance of the cathedral

The cathedral boys hockey team showed some good hockey last week in the Granite City Showcase. The Crusaders went 3-0 and won two sectional games and one rivalry game.

No matter who the team beat, Cathedral began to show strengths both in attack and defense.

Offensively, the puck had passed to a number of players and that extra pass allowed for better shot at the net. The Crusaders have scored nine goals in three games, but the team only needed two goals all week to beat those three teams.

Following:A week in high school sports + vacation tournaments + junior hockey in the latest sports podcast

The Cathedral players celebrate a goal in the first period of the Granite City Hockey Showcase game on Thursday, December 30, 2021, at the MAC in St. Cloud.

The defense was on the table all week with goaltender Nick Hansen leading the charge. Cathedral allowed one goal in all three games and that goal came from River Lakes in Game 1 of the week.

Otherwise, Hansen recorded back-to-goal shutouts against Sauk Rapids-Rice and St. Cloud. With Hansen, the defense was focused every game and blanked out a power play opportunity for the opponents and used his physique to secure the shutout and the win.

Cathedral goalie Nick Hansen focuses on the puck during the Granite City Hockey Showcase game on Thursday, December 30, 2021 at the MAC in St. Cloud.

John Hirschfeld scored four goals followed by Cole Hwang with two goals. The Crusaders approach 2022 with a lot of confidence and momentum.

Head coach Robbie Stocker said he likes the momentum but the team needs to keep focusing to improve with every game.

“This week was not our peak,” Stocker said. “We still have a lot of game ahead of us to improve and learn more, so hopefully we will play our best when the sections arrive.”

Following:Boys’ hockey notebook: Cathedral and Sartell take victories at Granite City Showcase

St. Cloud’s offensive production

The St. Cloud women’s hockey team had two explosive games in the Storm’n Sabers Holiday Classic on Tuesday and Wednesday. This led to the Crush winning the Championship game and improving to a 9-4 record.

St. Cloud has scored nine goals in two games and has shown his rash attack in different ways. On Tuesday, four different players scored a goal in the 4-0 victory over Minot (ND).

Kat Bell, Peyton Mathiasen, Ava Schmidt and Jenna Amundson each scored, which most Crush fans expected in most games. These four are the leaders of this team and show a lot of offensive talent.

St. Cloud's Peyton Mathiasen passes the puck to a teammate against New Ulm during the Storm'n Sabers Holiday Tournament at the Scheels Athletic Complex on Wednesday, December 29, 2021.

Amundson didn’t have enough goals on Tuesday and came back on Wednesday for a hat trick (three goals). Cailey Davidson and Molly Burkstrand also scored in the 5-3 win over New Ulm.

St. Cloud has shown that this team is capable of coming back after being beaten 3-0 against New Ulm and coming back to win the championship.

St. Cloud's Cailey Davidson stops and changes direction against New Ulm during the Storm'n Sabers Holiday Tournament at the Scheels Athletic Complex on Wednesday, December 29, 2021.

The Crush are on a five-game winning streak by 2022 and it’s not just offense. The defense stepped up their efforts, allowing six goals in those five games.

Kailee Falconer and Abby Stevens are the two goalies who helped this defense immensely during the winning streak.

St. Cloud will have a busy January with plenty of regular season games and section preparation. If the Crush can continue this winning streak, St. Cloud is poised to have a solid seed for the section tournament.

Sartell’s versatility

Sartell’s men’s hockey team may be 6-3 at the start of the season, but the Sabers have plenty of players who can score.

The Sabers entered the Granite City Showcase with a two-game winning streak. The team won the first two games against Monticello and Litchfield / Dassel-Cokato, but lost to Providence Academy to end that winning streak.

Sartell's Tory Lund returns to defense against Monticello during the Granite City hockey showcase at the MAC on Tuesday, December 28, 2021.

Sartell has scored 14 goals in three games and organized an offensive clinic. This offensive production is due to the fact that the team has a lot of players who can shoot and score at different distances.

The Sabers have scored 38 goals in nine games this season, which is an average of 4.2 goals per game. The team has also allowed 21 goals in those nine games, averaging 2.3 goals per game.

The Sartell Sabers celebrate Tory Lund's goal against Monticello during the Granite City Hockey Showcase at the MAC on Tuesday, December 28, 2021.

Of those 14 goals in the showcase this week, seven different players have scored one goal including six goals from Tory Lund, the leader of the Sartell offense.

If Sartell can keep that versatility and score for January, then the Sabers could have a chance to have a higher seed for the sections and make the playoffs.

Sam Zeiher of River Lakes smiles as he skates to the bench after scoring a goal against Cathedral in the first period of a Granite City Showcase game on Tuesday, December 28, 2021 at MAC in St. Cloud.

Close matches at River Lakes

The River Lakes men’s hockey team is currently 4-7 after last week’s tournament where the Stars were 0-3.

Of these seven defeats, five games were decided by one goal. The Stars lost 2-1 to Cathedral on Tuesday and 3-2 to Monticello on Wednesday.

In addition to close losses, River Lakes have also won two of their four games by one goal. The Stars face close games from the start and that’s what the coaches want, as it will help them understand that a goal could change whether the Sections continue or end.

River Lakes goaltender Carson Cronquist picks up the puck in a Granite City Showcase game against Cathedral on Tuesday, December 28, 2021, at the MAC in St. Cloud.

River Lakes is in a tough section and the Stars will face tight games all the time during the section tournament.

The Stars still have a lot of games to play in January to make sure they can improve on that record and have a higher ranking for this section tournament.

River Lakes have shown that the team has the offensive and defensive ability to go into games and win games. Now that balance must grow with every game until the playoffs.

Chase Wright controls the puck for River Lakes in a Granite City Showcase game against St. Cloud Cathedral on Tuesday, December 28, 2021, at MAC in St. Cloud.

Brian Mozey is the high school sports reporter for the St. Cloud Times. Contact him at 320-255-8772 or [email protected] Follow him on twitter @BrianMozey.

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