Where there's a will, there's a way: Cathedral hockey finding success with new head coach.
After missing the section semifinals for the first time in over 20 years in 2021, Cathedral boys hockey regained their footing in 2021-22 with a new identity and new members of the coaching staff.
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — After winning the Class A state title in 2019 and third place in 2020, St. Cloud Cathedral missed the section semifinals for the first time in more than 20 years in the 2020-2021 season.
The first big change that came after that season was a new head coach. Cathedral alumnus and assistant coach Robbie Stocker would get the call to lead the program into a new season with a new identity.
Being an alum means that Stocker already knew the Cathedral community, and as assistant coach he knew the Crusader hockey style of play.
Stocker also says that he has learned and brought a lot of ideas to the program after being an assistant coach with Delano for a few years and both learning and working with coach Gerrit van Bergen.
Shortly after the 2021 season ended and Stocker was brought on as head coach, the tragic passing of former player Mack Motzko shocked the Cathedral community.
"The theme of our season was 'Live like Mack, Love like Mack.' We tried our best to try and replicate that the best that we could," said Stocker, who coached Motzko in bantams for a year and was on the coaching staff for his freshman year.
One last change would happen before the start of the season with the arrival of former St. Cloud State Husky and Cathedral alumnus Will Hammer as assistant coach.
"He was pretty much a no-brainer, I had a couple of conversations with Brett Larson and he only sung his praises even more," Stocker said.
The Crusaders went 14-14 overall in 2021-22, and Coach Stocker believes that their record isn't indicative of how good of a season the team had given their tough schedule that included teams like Warroad, Hermantown, Delano, Monticello, and Alexandria.
The Crusaders' season ended in the Section 5A championship after losing a 3-2 game to Monticello.
Senior Nolan Widman lead the team in scoring with 37 points.
"He was asked to step into a role that he hadn't been in before," Stocker said. Widman previously was more of a role player under former program standouts like Blake Perbix, Jack Smith, Nate Warner, and Mack Motzko.
Widman has played with the St. Cloud Lumberjacks in the NA3HL, and has plans to continue to do so with hopes of advancing up to the NAHL.
Senior Chandler Hendricks had a breakout season and also helped contribute to Cathedral's offense, with 25 points to his name.
A player to look forward to in future years is freshman John Hirschfield, who was third in point scoring this year. Hirschfield was recently selected to the 2022 USA Hockey Boys Select 16 National Development Camp.
Stocker said that it was impressive that Hirschfield had the season that he did this year since he was fighting a back injury for part of the season.
A up-and-coming player that the team is excited about is Ben Petroske, who was a sophomore this year. The coaching staff had high expectations for Petroske, but he tore his MCL in tryouts and was unable to play most of the games this year.
Nick Hansen will be returning as Cathedral's starting goaltender — he posted a .902 save percentage as a sophomore.
"We have our work cut out for us, but I think it'll be a really good year on most fronts," Stocker said.
He is optimistic about the future and eager to see what the Crusaders can do in 2022-23.
For more on the changes within Cathedral's program, favorite memories of the season, and in-depth details on the various players on the team, make sure to listen to the full podcast or watch the interview with coach Stocker below.