LeClaire’s Crazy First Cruises Cathedral Past Zimmerman in Cruicial GRC Meeting

#4 St. Cloud Cathedral needed a big first half from a perimeter player once Zimmerman clamped down on their low post attack.

And boy, did senior Keaton LeClaire deliver.

LeClaire closed out the first half by burying 6 of his 8 threes.

The Crusaders opened the game by jumping out to a quick 7-10 point lead, but Zimmerman lept right back by leaning on center Dylan Martin, who put up 6 quick points. Zimmerman closed down the post in the early goings, forcing Cathedral to prove they can space the floor. LeClaire didn’t need much help proving that for Cathedral, racking up all 18 of his points in the first half. The Thunder went to their “big three” of Chandler Wellman, Thunder Heyer, and Dylan Martin, as the three had the first 18 points of the night for Zimmerman. Cathedral used a late run fueled by LeClaire to enter the locker room up 48-35.

The Crusaders found much more success in the low post in the second half, as junior forwards Michael Schaefer and Mitchell Plombon took the game over. The floor spacing provided by LeClaire and Jacob Stoltzenberg opened up driving lanes for Schaefer; as well as providing room for Plombon to utilize his outstanding faceup post drive game. The two finished with a combined 46 points. Schaefer led all scorers with 24 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and a block. Plombon added in 22 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 blocks to earn Player of the Game. Jacob Stoltzenberg was a great contributor off the bench, providing 10 points on 2-3 from deep. Jake Pensinger had a great second half for Zimmerman, putting up a team-high 18 points, followed by Heyer’s 17, Martin’s 15, and Wellman’s 12.

By The Numbers

St. Cloud Cathedral 84, Zimmerman 72

CHS 84

Points: M. Schaefer 24

Rebounds: Plombon 16

Assists: Jangula 7

Steals: Jangula 1, Kranz 1

Blocks: Plombon 3

ZIM 72

Points: Pensinger 18

All Stats are Unofficial. Taken courtesy of Thomas Breach. Image of Cathedral North Gym Scoreboard taken by Thomas Breach. © Thomas Breach.

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Crusaders Suffer Heartbreaking Third Period Meltdown Against Tigers

Going into the third period down by one, #5 St. Cloud Cathedral needed to come out strong to avoid a loss to the #3 Delano Tigers.

They did exactly that, as senior forward Reagan Garden hammered a rebound past Jackson Hjelle to tie the game at 4 with 10:13 left to play.

That’s when the wheels came off for the Crusaders.

The Crusader defense finally broke down over the last 10 minutes, and senior goaltender Jake Levinski was overwhelmed by the firepower of the Delano Tigers. Gabe Halonen put one in with 6:02 remaining, and less than a minute later the state points Ben Meyers stretched the lead to 6-4 with his second goal of the night. Brian Halonen found the back of the net with 4:09 to go, effectively sealing the win for Delano. Meyers wasn’t quite finished, however, as he picked his fourth hat trick of the year with 11 ticks left on the clock.

Throughout the first two periods, the game was a back-and-fourth affair with both offenses playing very well. Defensively, it was not the same story. The Cathedral penalty kill was overwhelmed by the Delano squad that came in converting on 48.8% of their opportunities, as the Tigers found the back of the net on 3 of their 4 power play chances.

Final: #3 Delano 8, #5 St. Cloud Cathedral 4

By The Numbers:

Cathedral 4

Goals: Jake Van Halbeck, Michael Spethmann, Jackson Savoie, Garden

Assists: Van Halbeck 2, Mack Motzko 2, Matthew Wedin

Jake Levinski: 35 Saves on 43 Shots on Goal

Delano 8

Goals: Meyers 3, Kyle Ylitalo 2, Garrett Pinoniemi, G. Halonen, B. Halonen

Assists: Andrew Kruse 4, B. Halonen 3, John Keranen 2, Meyers 2, Ray Heikkila, Ylitalo, G. Halonen, Pinoniemi

Jackson Hjelle: 20 Saves on 24 Shots on Goal

All statistics and rankings courtesy of Minnesota Hockey Hub, by the © 2013 Star Tribune. Image of Alesis MultiMix taken by Thomas Breach, © Thomas Breach.

#5 St. Cloud Cathedral Goes to Battle with #3 Delano in a Battle of 1A Brutes

Although they’re 10-1-1 since December 10th and ranked in the Top 5 for the first time this season, the #5 St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders still understand that they’ll be faced with a tough test coming into Delano against the #3 Tigers.

“I expect that it’ll be a great game with lots of back and forth action. They are a good team and will probably come out flying, but I think we can handle them.” said Crusaders junior defenseman Kevin Hayward.

The Crusaders defense will certainly face a tough test against a Delano squad that boasts two of the highest scorers in the state. Senior forwards Ben Meyers and Brian Halonen are tied for third in the state with 28 goals each, and both are in the top three for points. Meyers is the state’s top points leader with 65, and also paces the state in assists with 37. Both players have helped Delano boast an offense that averages 6.53 goals per game, a mind-boggling 48.8% power play, and outscores their opponents by 28 goals in the first period.

As Hayward said in an interview with our own Mitchell Hess, “Our opponent having a very good first line puts the pressure on our second line to produce the points our first line can’t.”

On offense, Cathedral will face arguably their most imposing opponent of the season: Delano’s 6’7 junior blue liner, Tanner Glasrud, who leads the Tigers with 51 blocked shots on the year. It will likely be crucial for the Crusaders’ Jake Van Halbeck (23 G/22 A) and Michael Spethmann (19 G/25 A) to use their speed to avoid the path of Glasrud.

In the crease, both teams will look for steady games from their netminders. Delano has primarily utilized two goalies this year: junior Jackson Hjelle and senior Erik Peterson. Hjelle is 8-1-1 on the year with a .887 save percentage; whereas Peterson is 6-1 with .886 save percentage. For Cathedral, senior Jake Levinski is 12-2-2 with a .898 stop percentage. The winner of this 1A bout will likely be the team with the most consistent goaltending.

Here’s the link to the game, with Thomas Breach on Play-by-Play and Mitchell Hess on Color Commentary:

Cathedral vs. Delano

A Look at the Stats:

St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders: 14-2-2

5.94 GPG

2.28 GAA

27.8 PP

85.5 PK

Delano Tigers: 14-2-1

6.53 GPG

2.88 GAA

48.8 PP

75.0 PK

Interview with Kevin Hayward by Mitchell Hess. All statistics and rankings courtesy of Minnesota Hockey Hub, by the © 2013 Star Tribune Image of Alesis MultiMix taken by Thomas Breach, © Thomas Breach.

St. Cloud Cathedral Holds Off Late Push by Becker in GRC Affair

In a classic Granite Ridge Conference matchup, the St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders withstood a strong second half by the Becker Bulldogs to win 69-61.

The Crusaders came into the matchup off of a big one-point victory over Esko and looked primed for continued success, as they relied upon a highly efficient offense in the first half to enter the break up 34-20. They shot 47% from the floor and 46% from deep, as junior forward Mitchell Plombon harassed the Bulldogs all night in the post, finishing with 17 points on 50% shooting. They had 11 assists on their 14 first half makes, getting great distribution from point guards Jackson Baustian-Jangula and Andrew Weisser. However, even with the 14 point deficit, Becker looked confident going into the half, as they played well-composed basketball. The Bulldogs only allowed Cathedral to shoot one first half free throw, and they forced the Crusaders to back off a full court press that didn’t exactly hinder Becker.

In the second half, Becker leaned on their “Big Three” of Hunter McCalla, Jack Conzemius, and Lucas Dertinger to crawl back into the game. Dertinger poured in 21 points in the game, leading all scorers. The three combined for 48 of Becker’s 61 points. Cathedral’s defense struggled to finish possessions in the second, as Becker was able to get a lion’s share of efficient, open shots. After a timeout by coach Matt Meyer, Cathedral struck back by leaning on Michael Schaefer, who lead the Crusaders with 19 points and 12 rebounds, with 11 boards coming on the defensive glass. Once the Bulldogs drew the deficit to two late in the game, the comeback effort finally hit a brick wall. Schaefer and Plombon then proceeded to take over, as both hit key free throws down the stretch and Schaefer seemingly pulled down every Becker miss to close out the game.

Overall, the Crusaders relied on a steady offense to defeat the Bulldogs, finishing with 50% shooting from the floor, and hit 8 of their 11 second half free throws. Plombon and Schaefer used their size and athleticism combination to create mismatches, as the two 6’6 forwards each had success attacking the rim off the dribble. They also picked up some excellent floor spacing from Keaton LeClaire and Jacob Stoltzenberg, as each hit two three-pointers. Stoltzenberg and Nicholas Schaefer combined for all 16 bench points with 8 each.

With the win, Cathedral is now 13-3 on the year and 4-1 in the GRC, while Becker falls to 9-8 and 5-2 in the same columns.

By The Numbers:

CHS 69

Points: M. Schaefer 19

Rebounds: M. Schaefer 12

Assists: Baustian-Jangula 7

Steals: Baustian-Jangula 3

Blocks: LeClaire, Plombon 1

BEC 61

Points: Dertinger 21

Statistics should not be considered official. Taken courtesy of Thomas Breach. Image of Cathedral North Gym taken by Thomas Breach, © Thomas Breach.