Apollo To Take On #1 St. Thomas At Xcel Wednesday [AUDIO]
The Apollo Eagles will play in their second all time state tournament, and first since 1984, Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center. You can listen to the game live Wednesday night on WJON beginning at 6:00.
Apollo rolled past Wadena-Deer Creek 10-0 in the first round of the section playoffs. Senior forward Jared Christen led Apollo with four goals and freshman goaltender Nick Althaus had 25 saves to earn the shutout.
The Eagles took down the Fergus Falls Otters 7-3 in the section semifinal in a game that was closer than the final score indicates. Apollo led 4-0 after one period but the Otters roared back with three straight goals in the second to cut the Eagles lead to 4-3.
Dallas Haugen scored just over one minute into the third period and the Eagles never looked back in advancing to the sectional final. Paul Kenney scored a hat trick in the game for Apollo as well.
In a raucous MAC packed with 50% purple clad Little Falls fans and 50% sporting the Apollo red, the Eagles upset the #1 seeded Flyers 6-3. This time, it was Jason Omann getting the hat trick for Apollo, the third different player to do so in as many games.
The final buzzer set off a wild celebration with students, parents and fans elated to see the Eagles reach to the tourney for the first time in 29 years.
Coach Pete Matanich cited the Eagles’ ability to kill an early five minute power play as the catalyst for the win,
Listen to coach Matanich’s full thoughts below.
St. Thomas Academy has been a powerhouse of Class A hockey since the two class system was installed by the Minnesota State High School League, so much so that they will be moving up to Class AA after this season.
The Cadets finished this season at 21-2-2 and went wire-to-wire as the state’s top ranked team in single-A hockey. They have defeated Hermantown each of the last two seasons in the state final and are looking for a third straight crown before moving up to the big school level.
This postseason St. Thomas Academy has outscored their opponents 18-0 and outshot them 144-33, beginning with an 8-0 win over Henry Sibley in the quarterfinals. Henry Hart and Austin Sattler each had a pair of goals in the win with goalie David Zevnik needing only seven saves to record the shutout. The Cadets had 55 shots on goal in the game.
In the semifinal STA again overwhelmed an opponent, this time Chisago Lakes, in a 7-0 win. The Cadets outshot the Wildcats 53-5 in the shutout win.
Jack Dougherty led the way for St. Thomas Academy with four points, two goals and two assists. Zevnik again earned the shutout in net for the Cadets.
The section final against Totino-Grace was a bit tighter but still a convincing 3-0 win and another trip to the state tournament for St. Thomas Academy. Alex Johnson and Christiano Versich each had a goal and an assist for the Cadets. Zevnik made 21 saves in the win.
It will be a battle between a stout defensive team in STA and a team with a lot of firepower on offense in Apollo. Make no mistake, it would be a monumental upset if the Eagles can pull it off, but it is not impossible.