Hermantown falls to St. Cloud Cathedral in state title game, finishes as Class A runners-up

On Saturday, the top-seeded Hermantown boys hockey team fell 3-1 to No. 3 St. Cloud Cathedral in the Class A state title game at the Xcel Energy Center. The Hawks were in search of their fifth state championship in program history, having won in 2007, 2016, 2017, and 2022.

“To be able to go to the state championship twice in your career, and to make it to state three times and place top three all three times, is quite the career to have,” senior defender Will Esterbrooks said.

Nearly four minutes into the game St. Cloud Cathedral’s Andrew Dwinnell struck first for the 1-0 Crusader lead. It would remain 1-0 at the end of the frame, with St. Cloud Cathedral leading in shots on goal 9-8.

No goals were scored in the second period, keeping St. Cloud Cathedral in front 1-0. Hermantown would outshoot the Crusaders 11-6 to lead in overall shots on goal 19-15.

“I never thought one goal would stand up, honestly. Really, and that’s kind of what happened. They got those two but one goal stood out pretty much,” Hermantown head coach Patrick Andrews said.

Halfway through the third period, Dwinnell would score his second goal of the day for the 2-0 St. Cloud Cathedral lead. Joey Gillespie added a third for the Crusaders’ 3-0 lead in the third. AJ Francisco would get Hermantown on the board scoring with 1:14 left in the game.

St. Cloud Cathedral wins 3-1 earning their program’s second state title. They won their first in 2019 defeating Greenway. In net, the Hawks’ goaltender Dane Callaway tallied 18 saves, while the Crusaders’ Nick Hansen made 28 saves.

“They kept us outside pretty much the whole game. We weren’t able to get inside, in front of his eyes very well. But we did end up scoring one and it was in the paint. Would have liked to do that a little more,” Esterbrooks added.

“I think it’s a credit to the quality of goaltending in the state. There’s been a historical knock on Minnesota goalies and one I don’t know why that is, but two I would say that’s got to be going away. This has been an unbelievable year for goaltending I would say,” Andrews said.

Hermantown’s River Freeman, AJ Francisco and Henry Peterson were named to the Class A All-Tournament team. Hermantown finishes their 2023-2024 season 20-9-2 as Class A state runners-up.

“These guys are my best friends since squirts, mites. Playing with them, can’t really describe it, just the family we have, it’s unbelievable,” senior forward Josh Kauppinen said.

“I started tearing up here and there but then it was just like, kind of goes away and I think that’s just because I know that every single player gave it their all,” senior defender Drew Nelson said.

To get to this title game, Hermantown beat Alexandria 6-0 in the quarterfinals, then held off Mahtomedi 7-6 in overtime in the semifinals. For the full Class A bracket, Click here.

The Class AA title game is set for 7 p.m. Saturday between No. 1 Edina and No. 2 Chanhassen. Grand Rapids will play Cretin-Derham Hall for third place at 4 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center. For the full Class AA bracket, Click here.

The tournament is being televised on WDIO. For additional ways to watch or stream the games, Click Here.