ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — With two years slipping by without state tournament appearances, St. Thomas Academy wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to be sitting home for a third year in a row.
The Cadets focused on endurance and stamina in their quest to return to the Class 1A boys state hockey tournament.
The extra work has paid off.
Senior Zach Schroeder scored twice and goaltender David Zevnik made 12 saves as top seed St. Thomas Academy beat Thief River Falls 5-0 in Friday’s second semifinal of the Class 1A boys state hockey tournament at the Xcel Energy Center.
“We had a lot of dedication this year to outlast the other teams in the third period and I think it really shows,” Schroeder said. “We’re a fast skating team. That’s our game and that’s Cadet hockey. We’re speed, move the puck and get pucks the net. I think we really wear our opponents down by our speed.”
Andrew Commers, Alex Johnson and Eric Schurhamer also scored for the Cadets (24-6-0), who will try for their third state championship and first since 2008. St. Thomas Academy will face second seed Hermantown (25-3-2) in Saturday’s title game.
The Cadets won two titles in three years, but were on the outside looking in the past two seasons as Breck won back-to-back titles.
“The past two years we were heartbroken not getting back here,” said Schroeder, a freshman on the 2008 championship team. “This year we were destined to get here and all of our hard work really paid off. We really wanted it and we got here.”
The endurance showed again against Thief River Falls (20-9-1).
The Prowlers had to kill off three first-period power plays and eventually didn’t have the stamina to keep up with St. Thomas Academy.
“They were gassed,” Thief River Falls coach Tim Bergland said of his team. “After that first period they were tired. Surely not making that as an excuse, but it wasn’t the flow we wanted. That being said, it was 1-0. I wasn’t disappointed with that.”
However as the game wore on, the Prowlers wore down.
St. Thomas Academy finished with three goals in the third.
“Just kept fighting and fighting,” Bergland said. “The longer it got, it seemed the tighter the sticks got and the heavier the legs seemed to get.”
Jon Narverud made 24 saves in goal for Thief River Falls.
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