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Apollo Punches Ticket To State Tourney With Upset Win [AUDIO]

Photo By Dave Overlund

St. Cloud Apollo is going to the MSHSL Boys Hockey State Tournament for the first time since 1984 after upsetting Little Falls Thursday night.

The St. Cloud Apollo Eagles upset #1 seed Little Falls 6-3 Thursday night at the MAC in front of a jam-packed house. The Eagles will play March 6 at the Xcel Energy Center with time to be determined.

Little Falls earned a five minute power play early in the first period and controlled play for much of the opening frame. The Flyers had eight shots on goal in the first period but could not solve freshman goaltender Nick Althaus. The Eagles’ lone shot came as time expired. Apollo coach Pete Matanich said his message in the locker room was simple.

“Just keep your poise,” Matanich said. “We had to fight off a five minute major, so it was huge for us to stay calm.”

The Eagles kept their composure even after Little Falls’ Taylor Drager broke the stalemate at 2:55 of the second period.

Jason Omann, already with nine assists in the postseason but no goals, buried a shot past Little Falls star goaltender Michael Stumpf to tie the game at 7:28.

Omann struck again at 10:17 on a rebound for his 18th of the season to give Apollo their first lead at 2-1, and they would not trail for the remainder of the game.

The score remained 2-1 at the second intermission with the shots on goal evening up a bit at 13-9 for the period in favor of the Flyers but still 21-10 overall through two.

Apollo went up 3-1 on a Brandon Bloch goal just :17 into the third period, before Little Falls’ Luke Majerle snapped the streak of three unanswered Eagle goals to cut the lead to one.

Under a minute later, Eagles senior and leading scorer Jared Christen answered to make the score 4-2.

Thomas Miller scored for Little Falls with three minutes left in the game, but Brandon Bissett answered at 15:37 to put the game out of reach. Omann scored into the empty net to complete the hat trick.

Althaus ended up winning the battle of the goaltenders, making 32 saves on 35 shots. Matanich said his goaltender was “unreal.”

“Over the last seven or eight games for us he was lights out,” Matanich said. “It seems like the more pressure, the better he plays.”

INTERVIEW WITH COACH MATANICH BELOW:

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