DULUTH, MN — Saturday was supposed to provide a decent game to attend after making the two-hour trek from the Twin Cities up to Duluth. But the second-ranked Duluth East Greyhounds wanted to prove why I have them ranked so highly.
In a potential preview of the 7AA section final between No. 2 Duluth East and No. 14 Elk River, few thought this game would be high scoring and full of drama. Yet both aspects were brought to the ice.
After a defensive first period where the only excitement came off an Elk River 3-on-1 breakaway during a 4-on-4 stretch that was miraculously stopped by goaltender Parker Kleive, the game ended in a 7-0 rout for Duluth East which skated away with victory at the Duluth Heritage Sports Center.
Once the ice was resurfaced, the Hounds continued to put the puck on net and try to chip away at an Elk River team that has slipped in record and rankings as of late. They eventually broke through after Nick Lanigan tried to wrap the puck to the backside of the net which failed but was ultimately kicked around in front of net before junior Ricky Lyle popped it in.
It wouldn’t be long before the door was completely kicked in for Elk River as 17 seconds later Duluth East found paydirt again to go up 2-0 after Austin Jouppi found net from between the circles off another assist from Lanigan.
The Hounds weren’t done hunting in the second, either, as late in the period Ian Mageau put East up 3-0 and made sure the any wind that had built up in the sails of Elk River to that point was deflated.
Again, I personally expected this game to at least resemble something competitive, but this game was clearly put away before the third and it would only get worse for the visiting Elks.
With the third underway, Duluth East continued to use their size and physical presence to shut down every Elk River attack and it led to the Elks snapping with frustration.
A little under seven minutes into the period, Elk River’s Austen Humphrey went off on Duluth East and paid the price. He was called for four penalties at once: a holding call, a roughing call, a fighting major and a game ejection after throwing multiple punches.
The crowd went nuts when he stormed off the ice and into the locker room.
This allowed Duluth East (18-1-3) to completely run away with the game netting four additional goals — all on the power play — in the third.
The first came from Mr. Hockey candidate Garrett Worth, who now has 37 goals and 55 points on the season.
The next two goals came in forgettable fashion with Jouppi netting his second of the game before Carson Cochran got in on the action. The only thing that made the final goal a bit more memorable was that it came from the fourth line and was the proverbial nail in the coffin as the game ended in running time.
Leaving the Duluth Heritage Sports Center licking their wounds, Elk River (14-7) should get a win against Osseo in their next bout. It will be interesting to see where the Elks are seeded heading into sections as Andover appears to be making moves for the number two-seed over Elk River.
As for Duluth East, they host their local rival No. 8 Cloquet-Esko-Carlton who I have been high on all year. But East should win in the end as they are clearly one of the top teams in the state due to their sheer physicality and skill. The game will also be of high interest to the hockey community. With another win, Duluth East head coach Mike Randolph will record his 616th win in Minnesota high school hockey which would tie him with Edina’s Willard Ikola for third all-time in the State of Hockey.
1. F Austin Jouppi (Duluth East) – 2 G, 1 A, 3 Pts
2. F Garrett Worth (Duluth East) – 1 G, 1 A, 2 Pts
3. G Parker Kleive (Duluth East) – 19 saves, shutout
Written by Jack Kewitsch / @JackKewitsch
Special to HockeyClan
Main Image: Opening face-off at the Duluth Heritage Sports Center in Duluth, Minnesota on February 3, 2018. Duluth East defeated Elk River, 7-0. (Photo by Jack Kewitsch/HockeyClan)
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