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High-revving St. Cloud Cathedral star is definition of clutch

By Loren Nelson, Legacy Hockey, 03/08/24, 3:45PM CST


John Hirschfeld, whose practice work habits are the stuff of legend, leads Crusaders past Warroad

St. Cloud Cathedral junior John Hirschfeld scoring the tying and winning goals in the Crusaders' 4-3 OT win over Warroad on Friday. Photo by Jeff Lawler,

No amount of sticks, skates, outstretched arms or protruding legs can stop John Hirschfeld when he’s on one of those John Hirschfeld drives to the net.

If he didn’t have a mouthguard and facemask, Hirschfeld would feel perfectly comfortable chewing through an opponent to reach his desired destination.

Driven? Intense? Focused?

St. Cloud Cathedral coach Robbie Stocker pleaded with Hirschfeld to stand down during practice on Thursday.

“He doesn’t take a drill off. Ever,” Stocker said on Friday after Hirschfeld scoring the tying and winning goals in the Crusaders’ 4-3 overtime victory over Warroad in a state Class 1A semifinal at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. “I had to tell him you can’t work this hard in practice because we have a state semifinal tomorrow.”

Hirschfeld, a junior, grew up watching his older brothers play for Cathedral in the state tournament. Now he’s not just doing the same, he’s taking command of center stage.

Hirschfeld tied the game with 1:09 left in regulation when he fended off big, burly Warroad defenseman Ryan Lund to reach the crease and shovel the puck past Warriors goaltender Ben Norris.

“We do a lot of drills like that, so practice definitely paid off,” Hirschfeld said about his half hockey, half wrestling move that got him in scoring position. “A lot of game-situation drills,”

The overtime winner was routine by comparison. Crash the net, find the puck, deposit it in the back of the net. As easy as one-two-three.

“(Andrew) Dwinnell got the puck to the middle, and we all crashed, and there was a nice rebound in the middle,” Hirschfeld said.

The goals were Hirschfeld’s team-leading 26th and 27th of the season. Five of them have been game-winners, counting Friday’s.

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