The Cretin-Derham Hall boys’ hockey team rode a strong start to a 4-2 victory over Saint Thomas Academy in the Section 3AA title game on March 1 to return to this week’s state tournament.

The Raiders (18-9-1) will face Maple Grove (22-5-1) in the state AA quarterfinals at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 9, at the Xcel Energy Center.

In the section final, CDH turned in outstanding performances by its three big guns, senior forwards Jake Fisher and Attila Lippai and senior defenseman Simon Houge.

“I couldn’t ask more from (those three core players),” said coach Matt Funk, adding that all three had played in their 100th varsity games this season.

The second-seeded Raiders jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead against the top-ranked Cadets (19-8), who played better after that but were still unable to overcome the early disadvantage. STA pulled its goalie late in hopes of coming back, but the Raiders held firm.

The first period was key for CDH, which split its two regular-season games with the Cadets by identical 4-2 scores. Freshman Max Anderson drew first blood with a power play tally, assisted by Fisher and senior Colton Jamieson. Then Fisher lit the lamp for two even-strength scores and the Raiders were well on their way.

“That’s the best I’ve ever seen our team play in a first period,” Funk said.


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CDH hockey
CDH’s Max Anderson is hoisted by teammates after his first goal in the Raiders’ 4-2 win over STA. Photo by Brad Stauffer

“They tried to take away our speed,”  Funk said, “but we knew that we had to play fast. We thought this game would be a race to see who gets to three goals.”

Anderson assisted on Fisher’s first goal, and Lippai and Houge drew assists on his second. Fisher is the team’s top scorer, Lippai is second and Houge leads the team in assists.

STA comes out strong in the second

The Cadets, who were outshot 38-23, came out much stronger in the second period. Senior Tommy Cronin scored off an assist from junior Brody Deitz to narrow the deficit, but the Raiders were never in any serious jeopardy of losing control of the game.

“They tried to take away our speed,”  Funk said, “but we knew that we had to play fast. We thought this game would be a race to see who gets to three goals.”

The Raiders got a big third-period goal from Anderson that put STA away, with assists from Lippai and Houge. The Cadets also scored in the third period, a power play goal by senior Lucas Kickhofel and assisted by Cronin, but it wasn’t enough.

Funk gave a big pat on the back to junior goalie Leo Miller, who only recently returned from a knee injury suffered around the holidays, but looked sharp versus the Cadets.

Rare CDH vs. STA playoff game

This was the first time the two clubs had engaged in a section playoff game since 1969, Funk said. “We knew that it was going to be emotional for us,” he said, adding that his squad had learned plenty about the Cadets after losing to them in the first game of the season. “We’re a completely different team now.”

The Raiders entered sections after back-to-back losses against White Bear and Stillwater to close out the regular season. They came out strong in the playoffs, besting Apple Valley/Burnsville 7-0 and Rosemount 3-1 to set up the final against STA.

The Cadets enjoyed a nice turnaround this year after playing .500 hockey last winter. New head coach Mike Randolph had hoped that a conservative system would work well against the Raiders in the playoffs. His charges simply couldn’t counter against CDH’s furious start. “They gained a lot of momentum after that first goal,” he said.

— Bill Wagner


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