The Cathedral Crusaders boys hockey team won the Section 6A title Thursday night with a 2-1 win over Alexandria at the MAC in St. Cloud. The Crusaders will be making their first trip to the state tournament since 2009 with the win.

After a scoreless first period that saw the Crusaders outshoot Alexandria 9-6, the second period featured a flurry of goals.

Sophomore Jack Steffl broke the ice for the Cardinals with a goal at 10:46 of the second period. Senior defenseman Kevin Finley fired a slap shot from the blue line that Steffl redirected past Cathedral goalie Zach Fritz.

The euphoria on Alexandria's bench would prove to be short-lived, however, as the Crusaders answered back with a goal of their own just 1:34 later.

Sophomore wing Logan Neu wristed home a shot just under the crossbar to complete a flurry of Cathedral chances and tie the game at one. Matt Fritz and Will Hammer were each given assists on the play.

With Crusaders sophomore Trevor Cornelius in the penalty box for high-sticking (the game's first penalty and one of only three in the entire game), Cathedral struck again to take the lead for good.

Matt Fritz received a pass from Phil Ruegamer and coasted through the neutral zone to the area just above the left wing circle. Without breaking stride, Fritz wristed a shot past Cardinals goalie Sam Goetsch for the short-handed goal at 15:08 of the second.

Cathedral coach Eric Johnson says the team had been encouraging Fritz to shoot the puck a little more, and it paid off with the game-winner.

The game ended with shots on goal even at 29, with quality scoring chances slightly favoring Cathedral 20-10.

Johnson said after the game that he was proud of his team, and added that his seniors really stepped up this season.

Cathedral will play on Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The game's start time will be determined Saturday morning.

Dave Overlund