The Cretin-Derham Hall boys’ hockey team would like a do-over of last year’s postseason play. But that doesn’t mean the Raiders can’t learn from their past.

One year ago, CDH was rated No. 1 in Class AA as it prepared for the state tourney. What happened then was nightmarish as the Raiders were dominated by unheralded Prior Lake. CDH then lost to Edina in the consolation semifinal. It wasn’t how they were hoping for the season to end.

But for those returning players, it was a teachable moment. “It’s a big deal,” said CDH coach Matt Funk. “They’re hungry, and they’re a little bit embarrassed by what happened. But I don’t need to talk about it—my captains talk about it. This crew has unfinished business.”

CDH hockey
CDH senior forward Attila Lippai scores on a penalty shot in the Raiders’ 7-0 win at home over Gentry Academy on January 17. Photo by Brad Stauffer

Ranked among state’s top 10

Raiders are playing like it so far, racking up a 13-4-1 record through January 19 and being ranked among the top six in the state in AA. They remained unbeaten in the Suburban East Conference, placing second behind White Bear Lake.

After losing their first two games, CDH has been on a tear. Among its victims have been strong Eden Prairie, Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Saint Thomas Academy teams.

The Raiders also battled top-ranked Wayzata hard before losing 4-5 in overtime over the holidays.

Funk said this year’s team is a little different than last year’s. “I don’t know about better,” he said, “but we can use our depth and it tends to wear other teams down.”

 

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The Raiders employ 11 forwards and seven defensemen most of the time. Not many teams can do that.

“We got to the state tournament last year and it was tough not doing more once we got there,” Fisher said. “We have to be mentally tough this year and I think we are, but we’ll be facing some tough competition and we have to keep our
focus.”

Fisher leads talented offense

CDH’s offense, which at this writing had outgunned its opposition by an 89-50 goal margin, is led by senior center Jake Fisher, a Northern Michigan commit who has 20 goals and 20 assists. Fisher will play junior hockey before starting his collegiate career.

“He has great on-ice vision,” Funk said about Fisher. “He has a quick release on his shot that is tough to stop. And he goes to the places on the ice that are hard to go to.”

Fisher, who also possesses outstanding playmaking skills, makes up a great first line with junior left wing Chuck Owens  (16 points) and freshman right wing Max Anderson (14). Both of them are solid and effective forecheckers.

The second line finds another talented center, senior Attila Lippai, who is the team’s second-leading scorer with 12 goals and 18 assists. He is joined by senior left-wing Colin Scanlan (15 points) and freshman right wing Nate Chorlton (11). The second line has great skating skills and makes things happen out there.

The Raiders’ third line consists of senior center Holden Saumweber between sophomore wings Beszi Lippai and Max Bennett. This trio might not have the offensive skills of some more high-profile teammates, but Funk likes their game. “They’re big and heavy and they play a physical brand of hockey,” he said.

Two other forwards—senior Charlie Cantwell and junior Easton Swift—are also earmarked for their share of ice time.

Raiders also strong on defense

The CDH defense is reliable and deep. Senior Simon Houge is the top gun there. He takes point on the power play and knows how to manage the puck. Houge was third on the team in points with three goals and 19 assists. Houge’s partner on defense is senior Lucas Cernohous, who is steady and strong back there.

Senior defender Colton Jamieson is the team’s fourth-leading scorer with 18 points and partners with sophomore Jimmy Dodig. The third defensive pairing includes seniors Trey Gnetz and Luke Chorlton. Junior Aidan Siegfried also provides good backline savvy.

Back in the nets, the Raiders have more of their vaunted depth. Junior Leo Miller was the starter, but has been sidelined with a knee injury. Stepping in nicely was sophomore Owen Nelson, who has a 2.35 goals-against average and .891 save percentage.

The Raiders have two tough contests coming up next month against White Bear, with the Section 3AA playoffs to begin February 21. But Funk likes the direction of his team so far. So does Fisher.

“We got to the state tournament last year and it was tough not doing more once we got there,” Fisher said. “We have to be mentally tough this year and I think we are, but we’ll be facing some tough competition and we have to keep our
focus.”

— Bill Wagner

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