The parking lot at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center was full. Inside, the pep band was playing. Parents, friends, and students from Tech and Apollo were amped up. For what, you ask? The renewal of the crosstown hockey rivalry between Tech and Apollo. Twice a winter, the two Saint Cloud programs face off for bragging rights. What makes this rivalry special is the fact that until 8th or 9th grade, most of these players played together on the SAME teams. The familiarity of each other is unheralded. On the ice, many of the players talk as if they were best friends. Suffice it to say, the scene had been set.
The two exchanged goals in the first, before Apollo broke out with a pair of goals highlighted by a Tanner Breidenbach tally that electrified the crowd. He turned a one on one into a breakaway capped by a filthy top shelfer. Tech answered back at the 5:00 mark by a goal from Senior Riley Bates. But Breidenbach retorted at 10:10 mark of the second period with a laser that just went under the crossbar making it 4-2.
In the 3rd, Tech closed the gap to 4-3 with snap shot off the stick of Connor Wendt. The rest of the game was filled with back and forth high level hockey. Neither team could capitalize on their chances until Wendt netted his second on a power play wrister from the point to knot the game at 4 with 3:36 to go. An Apollo flurry at the end of regulation proved unproductive as the game headed to OT.
In OT, Tech applied pressure quickly, but Apollo goaltender Nick Althaus was up to the test. Apollo answered back with two great scoring chances, but Tech goaltender Austin Althaus equaled his younger brother’s saves. Apollo hit the crossbar with 4:30 remaining amidst groans and a chorus of ohhhs from the audience. Tech Senior Tanner Skaja ended the game with a high slot snapper past a partially screened Nick Althaus. Final score, 5-4 Tech.
The two teams play each other again on December 27th at the MAC. Until then, Tech has bragging rights.
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