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St. Cloud Cathedral's unflappable goalie makes all the difference

By Loren Nelson, Legacy Hockey, 03/09/24, 5:30PM CST


Nick Hansen's return from injury was turning point to Crusaders' championship season

St. Cloud Cathedral's Nick Hansen

Nick Hansen had just won a state title, but, by the look of it, as easily might have just rolled out of bed. Sure, St. Cloud Cathedral’s senior goaltender was excited — not that it showed. 

The mustachioed Hansen arrived up at the state Class 1A championship game media session Saturday with his unflappable demeanor on full display. A check on Hansen’s blood pressure might have registered less than zero. Unflappable? This is a kid who could take an astrophysics test in a tornado and still score a 100.

Hansen stopped 29 shots in the Crusaders’ 3-1 victory over Hermantown at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, then basked in the bright lights and glowing adjectives aimed at him.

“It’s unreal the amount of times he’s bailed me out,” St. Cloud Cathedral defenseman Vince Gebhardt said. “He bailed me out once big-time today backdoor on the penalty kill. 

“Those games when he wasn’t there, me and (defenseman Griffin Sturm) knew we had to play our A game. With him back there, it was a little bit of relief.”

Those games.

Hansen exited the Cathedral lineup on Dec. 16 with a dislocated shoulder and didn’t return for a full month. All four of the Crusaders’ losses came during that stretch.

“That was a pivotal turning point in our season,” Cathedral coach Robby Stocker said. “But when he went down, he was at every practice, he was at every game, he was acting as a second goalie coach. He was the ultimate teammate.”

Stocker broke from tradition and declined to name a captain at the start of the season.

“We wanted to see who would step up and be the leader of the group,” Stocker said. “I kind of always knew that it was going to be Nick.”

New jerseys arrived before the Crusaders’ Jan. 26 game at the Bloomington Ice Garden against Northfield. When Hansen was handed his, there was a C stitched on it.

“I figured it would be a good day to debut it,” Stocker said. “The ship was pretty steady from that day out.”

Hansen didn’t play in St. Cloud Cathedral’s 3-1 loss to Hermantown on Jan. 11. Normally effusive Hermantown coach Pat Andrews didn’t have much to say about the difference Hansen’s presence made Saturday. 

“It’s pretty obvious,” Andrews said. “We scored then and couldn’t score today.”

Hansen finished the season with a 19-0-1 record, the state’s first goaltender to go undefeated since Alex Timmons went 14-0-0 for Gentry Academy in the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season.

Hansen, who stopped 77 of the 82 shots he saw in the tournament, said the month he spent out of the lineup was rough.

“It’s the longest break I took from being on the ice probably since I started playing 10, 12 years ago now,” he said. “It was really hard for me. But the guys around me made sure to keep my confidence up and get ready to go back in.”

St. Cloud Cathedral goaltender Nick Hansen, far right, was the center of attention after the Crusaders won their second state title in school history. Photo by Jeff Lawler,

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