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Behind Carson Pilgrim, unbeaten Warroad outlasts St. Cloud Cathedral in Class A quarterfinal

Warroad's top line combined for nine points in a 5-1 quarterfinal win to open the state tournament.

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Warroad forward Carson Pilgrim (18) celebrates his goal against St. Cloud Cathedral with the bench in the first period Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

ST. PAUL — If the top-seeded Warroad Warriors were looking for a routine start to the 2023 Minnesota Class A boys hockey tournament on Wednesday, they didn't get it.

At least for the first 34 minutes.

Unseeded St. Cloud Cathedral collapsed defensively to slow the high-powered Warroad attack for two periods and took its chances offensively before the Warriors rallied for a 5-1 win in the third Class A quarterfinal of the day.

The win keeps Warroad's state championship dream, and undefeated season, alive.


"I knew that they were going to push and we were going to be in for a battle," Warroad Coach Jay Hardwick said.

Junior goalie Nick Hansen made 38 stops in the Cathedral net, but two power-play goals from Carson Pilgrim and third-period insurance tallies from Jayson Shaugabay and Murray Marvin-Cordes were enough for a Warriors win. Pilgrim, Shaugabay and Marvin-Cordes combined for nine points in the game.

"Playing with [Pilgrim] and [Marvin-Cordes], they're both super talented and when either of them have the puck I feel very confident that they're going to do something good with it," Shaugabay said.

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Warroad goaltender Hampton Slukynsky (1) and players keep out attempts by St. Cloud Cathedral forward John Hirschfeld (6) in the first period Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

Since the beginning of the two-class era in 1992, Warroad is 14-1 in the quarterfinals. The lone loss was a 2-1 overtime defeat against Orono in 2004.

The Warriors are 7-0 in quarterfinals since winning their last state title in 2005, outscoring opponents 44-7 in the process.

Pilgrim's second goal of the night, a picture-perfect tic-tac-toe passing play from Erick Comstock to Shaugabay across to the junior with 13.8 seconds left in the second period, was the game-winner. He completed his hat trick with an empty netter in the game's closing seconds.

After a fairly even start to the game, Warroad's power play finally broke through late in the first period to beat Hansen.

After the Crusaders goalie stopped a shot from the point by Erick Comstock and reached back to paddle away a rebound try from Ryan Lund, Pilgrim snuck in from his spot on the left dot to fire a loose puck into the open net at 13:07 of the first period.


With Warroad goalie Hampton Slukynsky looking unflappable in net, it took an unorthodox goal for Cathedral to answer.

Joey Gillespie caromed a shot from behind the goal line off Slukynsky's back and into the Warroad net to tie the game midway through the second period after the Frank Brimsek Award finalist stopped his initial redirect.

"It felt good getting one against him," Gillespie said. "He's pretty good, I guess."

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Warroad forward Carson Pilgrim (18) skates in for an open net goal and hat trick with one second on the clock against St. Cloud Cathedral in the third period Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

Slukynsky, who's committed to Northern Michigan, stopped the other 22 shots he faced — most from in front of him — in the game.

Shaugabay, a Mr. Hockey finalist and Minnesota Duluth commit, cleaned up a rebound in front and Marvin-Cordes wired in a deep wrister to give Warroad the third-period insurance it needed in the final 17 minutes after exhausting the Crusaders.

"I just told the boys, my two objectives for them tonight were to believe in each other and leave it all on the ice," St. Cloud Cathedral Coach Robbie Stocker said. "We checked both of those boxes 100% and not a single guy had anything left in the tank."

Warroad will play fourth-seeded Orono or fifth-seeded Northfield on Friday at 1 p.m. in the second Class A semifinal.


WARROAD 1-1-3—5

FIRST PERIOD: 1, WAR, Pilgrim (Lund, Comstock), PP, 13:07.

SECOND PERIOD: 2, SCC, Gillespie (Hirschfield, Gebhart), 9:19. 3, WAR, Pilgrim (Shaugabay, Comstock), PP, 16:46.

THIRD PERIOD: 4, WAR, Shaugabay (Marvin-Cordes, Comstock), 4:40. 5, WAR, Marvin-Cordes (Pilgrim), 9:01. 6, WAR, Pilgrim (Shaugabay), 16:59.

SHOTS: SCC, 9-7-7—23. WAR, 16-12-15—43.

SAVES: SCC, Hansen (15-11-12—38). WAR, Slukynsky (9-6-7—22)

Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament coverage including game recaps, photos, brackets, schedules and more from The Rink Live

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