In the time it takes to microwave some popcorn, Little Falls was in trouble.
Six minutes and 10 seconds into this one and barely a handful eaten, it basically was over.
St. Cloud Cathedral’s astonishingly quick five-goal lead turned into a 9-2 win over the stunned Flyers on Tuesday evening at the Municipal Athletic Complex.
“I think we had some fire in us from losing earlier,” said Cathedral senior forward Matt Fritz, who needed 6:10 into the game to record his first varsity hat trick.
The victory pushes the second-seeded Crusaders into the Section 6A semifinals.
There, Cathedral plays Fergus Falls at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Runestone Community Center in Alexandria. The third-seeded Otters beat sixth-seeded Sauk Rapids, 3-1.
“We had good jump for once,” Cathedral head coach Eric Johnson said.
Second-seeded Cathedral (14-11-1) has had trouble scoring goals in the late part of the season. That mini slump may have started when seventh-seeded Little Falls (13-13-1) beat the Crusaders 3-0 on Jan. 27.
“We were getting a lot of quality chances, but we couldn’t put the puck in the net,” Fritz said.
“And we weren’t getting any bounces, either,” said Cathedral senior Brady Johnston, who had two goals Tuesday.
It’s called bad puck luck. But there was none of that Tuesday.
“We were caught on our heels,” Little Falls head coach Tony Couture said.
Couture complimented the Crusaders for their good discipline and team speed, which was on display instantly.
Fritz scored 2:23 in with assists from Max LaBine and Michael Spethmann. Jake Van Halbeck scored unassisted 22 seconds later.
Fifty-five seconds after that, Erik Gadbois found the back of the net, getting an assist from Logan Neu.
Fritz then scored a power-play goal at 5:45. Sam Medvec and Leo Lommel assisted. Twenty-five seconds later, Fritz scored again. Johnston and David Spethmann assisted.
Timeout Little Falls.
“That was just to get the (new) goalie warmed up,” Couture said. “There was nothing to say at that point.
“They all knew what was happening.”
Little Falls did show some life, getting a power-play goal from Daniel Marod with an assist from Austin Fenske, and an even-strength unassisted goal on a nice slap shot by Landon Bjorge.
But that was that.
Cathedral outshot the Flyers 41-12 and 24 quality scoring chances to Little Falls’ 5. Johnston and Joshua Thyen continued the scoring onslaught in the second period. The third period was played in running time because of the six-goal mercy rule.
But the Crusaders said this was nothing to get too cocky about.
“We’re trying to stay even-keeled, kind of like last year,” Fritz said. “We’re trying not to get too excited.”
Nonetheless, it was a good start.
Follow Tom Elliott on Twitter @sctimestom or call 259-3661.