Duluth East Hockey
Jottings and Notes on the 1997-98 Season
March 1998

March 1, 1998

State Tournament predictions. PagePredict is being unveiled this week, and will predict all the games in this week's State Tournament.

The quarterfinal predictions:

Class A

  • Red Wing over East Grand Forks
  • Hermantown over Fergus Falls
  • Eveleth over Mahtomedi
  • St Louis Park over Mound-Westonka
  • Class AA

  • Bloomington Jefferson over Owatonna
  • Duluth East over Hastings
  • Anoka over White Bear Lake
  • Roseau over Edina
  • March 5, 1998

    State Tournament predictions. Picks for the Class A consolation semi-finals:

  • East Grand Forks over Fergus Falls
  • Mahtomedi over Mound-Westonka
  • East 5, Hastings 4. The game turned out to live up to its billing, and then some. Had East lost this game after being up 5-2 in the second period, I'm sure the cries of "choke! choke!!" would have resounded from Roseau to Red Wing. And those using the label would have done so out of ignorance of a few simple facts.

    First, Hastings is a very strong team. I saw their #2 rating in Let's Play Hockey and said "What's up with that? Sure, they've only lost one game, but their schedule hasn't been the strongest. Let's see what they do when faced with a top-rated opponent. And they have a few good players, but beyond that...". What they did was take East right down to the wire, and could just as easily as not put in the tying goal in the last minute of the game.

    It's true that they have a few good players. Actually, they have three very good players. I knew the numbers they had put up this year, but you don't get a real appreciation for what Dan Welch, Jeff Taffe and Ben Tharp can do until you see them play. These three players are as good as anyone in the state. And they're only juniors! How spectacular will they (and Hastings) be next year?

    Second, I'm tired of hearing the C-word. Hey, you can throw that label out as soon as you make it to the State Tournament. Once the eight teams have won their way there, you throw out the records, and everyone begins on an even level. In a single-elimination tournament, a lot can happen, and if they lose, it isn't because they "choke". It's because they ran into a team which, for 45 minutes, out-played them or out-goaltended them. Choke doesn't exist in the State Tournament.

    When Finnegan stole the puck in the Hastings end and put East up early 1-0, I relaxed a bit. It looked like things would go East's way. I knew that East had not fallen behind all season after getting a lead. Why should this game be any different?

    It was different. East gave up two breakaways after that, and the Raiders buried both chances. Suddenly, it was 2-1 Hastings, and it was the first strong feeling that this wasn't going to be like any other game East had played in this season. Taggart took a pass from Oswald and skated in, flicking a wrist shot past Ben Utecht (another junior) and we had a 2-2 tie after one period. Interesting in light of the fact the two teams combined for only eight shots on goal; half of them found the net.

    It looked like East was going to run away with the game in the second period. Ross Carlson snuck in behind Utecht to slam home a loose puck. Just after that, East had a goal disallowed which would have increased the margin to two, and it was a good call. But the tempo had been set, and when a harmless Nick Angell shot led to a rebound which Chad Roberg jumped on, East had a 4-2 lead.

    Hastings sensed the urgency of the moment and came back with fierce pressure. When Adam Coole lost his stick (replacing it with another player's regular stick), we all held our breath. Hastings got off a few shots before East finally iced the puck and forced a stop in the action.

    Rheese Carlson got the goal that "appeared" to break Hastings back, on a pass from Roberg. How did he score that one while on his stomach?? It was the play of the game, and it seemed to give East the breathing room it needed at 5-2

    Hastings had a different outcome in mind, however. When Oswald hauled down Dan Welch and got the box for two minutes, the Raiders made the most of their chance, scoring quickly on a Ben Tharp blast which was deflected past Coole. It was an ill-timed penalty on the Hounds part, and the timing of the goal couldn't have been better for Hastings.

    Nick Angell took a hooking penalty just after that, but the Raiders had only one quality chance during this power play. East had dodged a bullet, but more bullets would come their way.

    Even better timing for Hastings came with just 1.1 seconds (!!) left in the second period. Mike Krauth took a pass from Dan Welch and fired a blistering slap shot past Coole. 5-4!

    Now it was gonna get interesting, as though it hadn't already. I was dismayed at how East had let a three goal lead dwindle down to one goal, but at least they still had the lead. Both East and Hastings played great team defense in the third period, and until East got into more penalty trouble late in the period, it was played roughly evenly. Jesse Hagadorn took a slashing penalty with 5:24 left and East would once more have to fend off the best power play attack they'd seen all season. Once again, Hastings couldn't convert on the power play chance.

    All East had to do now was not take another penalty and not allow another breakaway for the remaining three and a half minutes. The accomplished the latter, but not the former. A somewhat marginal call was made against Finnegan with just 55 seconds left (okay, not so marginal, he hammered the Hastings player against the boards), and this was the worst possible time for something like that. In the final minute, why Hastings waited so long to pull their goalie is anyone's guess. Maybe they thought that a 5-4 manpower advantage would be enough, and 6-4 wasn't needed. Who knows?

    It almost worked. A furious skirmish right in front of Coole somehow didn't result in a goal, even with Nick Angell down on the ice and out of the play after blocking a wicked slap shot. It was a wild ending to an even wilder game.

    A huge amount of credit deserves to go to Hastings. They have an extremely talented team, and it goes beyond their three main stars. They're a young team, too; look for them to be a force in Minnesota hockey next year. This was one of those games where it was unfortunate that one team had to lose. They played with a lot of poise and kept the play very clean. I would have had more fun watching the game if I had been a dispassionate onlooker rather than an East rooter LOL. Look for Hastings to make a serious run for the consolation trophy.

    For the Hounds, it's one down....next up is Bloomington Jefferson!

    "The Bug". Nope, this isn't about the Mary Chapin-Carpenter song. It's about what can happen when you foolishly decline, as I did last fall, to get that annual flu vaccination. Sure enough, the first year in the past ten or so when I don't get the shot, I get the flu. It's kept me prone and slack (and living on water and Tylenol) for the most part since Monday. But you sometimes come up with some interesting brainstorms amidst the hallucinations that go with a 103+ fever LOL. And I have a couple new ideas for these pages next year. In the meantime, I haven't been able to do game reviews of all the games; in fact, while I "watched" all the Class A quarterfinal games, I didn't really "see" what was going on (except I kept hearing them announce Hermantown scoring again and again and again). I'm coming around a bit today, so hopefully I can stay on top of the remainder of the games!

    March 6, 1998

    State Tournament predictions. Today's picks by PagePredict:

    Class A semifinals:

  • Red Wing over Hermantown
  • Eveleth over St Louis Park
  • Class AA consolation:

  • Hastings over Owatonna
  • Edina over White Bear Lake
  • Class AA semifinals:

  • Duluth East over Bloomington Jefferson
  • Anoka over Roseau
  • So far, PagePredict has been 10-0 in picking State Tournament games. Expect that this perfect record will not survive today's action. There are at least three games that could go either way.

    East 3, Bloomington Jefferson 2 (OT). When I heard Jefferson coach Tom Saterdalen state that this was one of the five best Jags teams he'd coached, it was cause for more than a slight bit of concern. Jefferson had fielded some awesome teams in the early 90's, with their three straight State Championships. It was the third of those teams that had defeated East 2-1 in the 1994 semi-final. The next season, they had been favored to make it four straight until they ran into Spehar & Co., and were derailed. To hear this year's team compared to those teams? They were an experienced bunch comprised of all juniors and seniors, returning most of last year's team that had lost to Hill-Murray in the quarterfinals. The Jaguars were back, and they appeared to be on a mission to reclaim the glory that had once been theirs.

    My brother and I had gotten into a habit of trying to predict the score before each game. This tradition goes back a couple of years, and it had fallen into a superstitious pattern in games which looked to be very close; he would pick East to win by a goal, and I would pick East to lose by one goal. The last time we had departed from that pattern was in last year's State Championship game, when we both picked East to defeat Edina. And they lost. So, we should know better than to mess with tradition, right? LOL....but for the first time this season, I refused to predict a winner (although PagePredict predicted a Hound victory).

    Two things concerned me going into this game. First, East had allowed two breakaways that resulted in Hastings goals yesterday. Second, the officials hadn't called a single penalty on Hastings. If this happened again, I wasn't too confident about East chances of winning again.

    The first period featured few good scoring opportunities for either team. East had a great chance on a two-on-one with the Carlson brothers, but Ross couldn't get a stick on a pass from Rheese. Right after that, David Hergert skated in alone for the Jags but whiffed on a shot directly in front of Coole. It could easily have been 1-1 at that point, but remained scoreless. Then Lee Brooks skated in on Coole, but only had one hand on his stick and could muster just a weak backhand shot which was easily handled by Adam.

    Overall, East had carried a slight advantage in the first period, although Jefferson had more good quality chances. Jefferson had a 6-5 advantage on shots. I felt pretty good with the game being tied at this point.

    These two teams simply have too much firepower for the game to stay tied, even though the tie wasn't broken until after the ten minute mark of the second period. Chad Roberg just missed a rebound in the first few minutes, and then Patrick Finnegan couldn't handle a pass from Jesse Hagadorn. It had been the best sustained pressure by East so far, but once again didn't break the scoreless tie. Jefferson had a very good chance just after that which started with a David Hergert shot, the rebound came out, a Jaguar backhanded it, and Coole ended up sprawled on his left side after the shot bounced off the pipe and was right in the crease. Before Andy Kranz could knock the loose puck into the net, Kevin Oswald got his stick on it. The goal came off its pegs in the ensuing pileup, and East had survived a huge scare.

    East finally got their first power play of the tournament when Erik Ste Marie hauled down Rheese Carlson in a move worthy of WWF consideration. Finnegan hit Rheese cutting to the net, and goalie Mike Stansberry had to make a sprawling save. It was the best attempt in an abbreviated power play, which was ended when Finnegan pulled down David Hergert to prevent a two-on-one going the other way. Not a bad move, considering Hergert had eight short-handed goals on the season. He made sure this wasn't going to be #9.

    Jefferson controlled the puck well, but didn't put any serious pressure on East; the Hounds easily killed the penalty, and it was still tied at zero.

    At 10:34, the deadlock was broken. A long pass behind Lee Brooks bounced off the boards and he managed to wait and then control it. A two-on-one was created; Hedberg went for the puck, Coole prepared for the shot....and then Brooks made a very nice pass over to Blake Heisler who had nothing but net staring at him. He hammered home the shot, and Jefferson was up 1-0. It was a breakdown in coverage that had stung East badly.

    Between the second and third periods, I couldn't help but remember last season's 1-0 loss to Edina and wonder if this would result in the same dismal outcome. Jefferson's offensive prowess didn't surprise me. Their ability to keep East off the board did surprise me. I believed that East could score at least two or three goals, and it should be enough to win. East just needed to keep skating hard, hitting hard, and maybe get a bounce or two to go their way.

    The play had been tilted slightly in favor of the Jaguars in the second period. The shots were about even, 13-12 in favor of Jefferson, but what really counted right now was the 1-0 score. Randolph had made an important change, pairing Angell and Finnegan together, and they weren't taking as many chances on offense. Mark Anunti had played as good a game as I'd seen him play all season, so they looked to be okay with him paired with Hedberg. They were also using Mike Salmela to keep some fresh legs on defense, which was needed late in the game.

    East picked up the tempo in the third period, and started getting more face-offs in the Jefferson end. The question of when the pressure would pay off was answered at 5:23. Hergert lost the puck to Dan Roman on a nice forecheck, who skated in front and to the right of Stansberry. A quick shot bounced off him and right out in front to a waiting Oswald. He kicked it from his left skate to his stick hand and put it between Stansberry's legs as he was going down. East had tied the game!

    The quick-strike explosiveness which East had shown during the season was shown again only 48 seconds later on an even nicer play. After the Jags hit the goal post with a wicked shot, and followed with a brief flurry, Nick Angell came roaring back up the ice. The puck was poke checked away, but he regained control, wheeled and fired at the goal. The rebound came out to Finnegan, and with the Jefferson defense moving towards his side, Angell was left uncovered. Finnegan made a perfect pass across the slot and Angell ripped a huge slap shot off the pass past Stansberry, who had no chance to react. The Hounds had their first lead of the night!

    Mike Marshall almost made it 3-1 just after that, putting a shot over the Jefferson goal. East was really flying at that point, and they were also picking up the pace of the hitting. But when East couldn't maintain control of the puck in their end, Jon Corbett got a shot off on Coole, who left a rebound for Todd Koehnen. He flipped the puck up over Adam's shoulder just under the crossbar, and the game was tied again at 2-2.

    Neither team could score in the remaining 3:40 (although Jefferson managed a couple of good shots), and the game headed into overtime. Long passes had little success for either team; it was going to take something short and quick to break a player loose for the winning tally.

    The shots going into overtime were now 23-20 in East's favor. They had gotten better as the game had progressed, and they only had to convert that advantage into a winning goal. It took 2:22 of overtime for it to happen. First, Adam Coole had to make a very good save on an Andy Kranz blast. Then Rheese almost buried a chance after carrying the puck out from the left corner, but Stansberry held his ground. The winning goal for East wasn't the result of sustained pressure, but rather a lightning bolt strike. Angell passed the puck up along the boards to where Gabe Taggart was waiting at the Jefferson blue line. He scooted into the Jags zone with Oswald cruising up the middle. Gabe flicked a pass over the Jefferson defender and Kevin fired a perfect shot directly off the pass into the Jefferson net. In the words of the late Harry Carey, "Hounds win! Hounds win! Hounds win! Holy cow!".

    It was a sensational end to a game where, once again, East reached deep inside and found whatever it took to pull off the victory. We should be used to this by now, having seen a team that never gets down when they're behind. They kept doing what they had done all season long, keeping faith in the things that had gotten them this far. They keep working hard and tighten up on defense when they have to. And now, it's taken them to the next and final level, where they'll be returning to the State Championship game tomorrow night against Anoka. The final shots on goal were 25-22 in East's favor, indicating how close this game really was. Two down, one to go!

    March 7, 1998

    State Tournament predictions. Today's picks by PagePredict:

    Class A Championship:

  • Hermantown over Eveleth
  • Class A Third Place game:

  • Red Wing over St Louis Park
  • Class A Consolation Final:

  • East Grand Forks over Mahtomedi
  • Class AA Championship:

  • Duluth East over Anoka
  • Class AA Third Place game:

  • Bloomington Jefferson over Roseau
  • Class AA Consolation Final:

  • Hastings over Edina
  • After going 5-1 in Friday's games, PagePredict is now 15-1.

    Lou Nanne. Is anyone else from northern Minnesota as sick of this guy as I am?? I've been listening to this guy for years and years, and his pro-Twin Cities bias (not to mention Edina-bias) is enough to make this northerner reach for the airsick bag....even when I'm not recovering from the flu! He spent the better part of the first period cutting down East's style of Angell and Finnegan pinching in, saying how this was a bad thing, how they were gonna get burned doing that, blah blah blah. Lou doesn't realize that East was playing in this game in large part specifically because of the style those two play. It's worked for them all season, with few consequences; but apparently Mr. Nanne knows more about how East should play than Mike Randolph.

    I've never heard an announcer more critical of what's going on during a game. If the kids don't play everything perfectly, he makes a point of it again and again. Hey, these are teenage kids we're talking about here. They are not going to play everything perfectly! This point is lost on Lou.

    I just think Lou doesn't like to see creativity in a team. He thinks defensemen should stay back and just play defense. He's nearly horrified to see Angell or Finnegan carry an attack deep into a zone. This might be how grown men played defense in the NHL back in the 1960's, but this is not how East plays, and it certainly isn't how East has compiled a 25-1 on-ice record this season. Wake up, Lou!

    When Tom Reid filled in for Lou on Thursday during the Class AA quarterfinals, it was a very refreshing change. It's too bad it didn't last through the entire tournament. And the way Lou butchers names (shudder); it's NOT sal-MEL-la, you bozo.....it's SAL-me-la!! He did the same thing three years ago with Chris "Lock-har". A little research before he sits down and criticizes teams is called for, perhaps?

    He also needs to pay closer attention to certain facts. He stated Wednesday night that Hermantown had played a lot of games against Class AA teams. Ummm....nope! The Hawks had played two games against Class AA schools this season (Cloquet and East). I guess two qualifies as "a lot".

    If I seem overly harsh, I want to point out that I have never had a beef with the play-by-play, which I think KMSP has always done a very good job with. I'm just tired of Lou Nanne's bias, and I would rather see someone with a little less experience and a little more objectivity doing the color commentary. Nuff said.

    March 8, 1998

    Class AA Championship Game
    East 3, Anoka 1. This game brought back to me so many memories of a similar evening three years ago, when we were watching East go up against Moorhead for the championship. Differences exist, of course; back then, we were wondering if the Hounds could finally get the monkey off their back and bring home their first title since 1960. And there were huge superstars for both teams back then; Dave Spehar and Chris Locker for East, Matt Cullen for Moorhead.

    The 1995 championship had a magical quality to it. East really wasn't supposed to have even made it that far; Jefferson had what looked to be their fourth straight championship team. East was supposed to still be a year away. Spehar, Chris Locker, Cullen Flaherty and Ted Suihkonen were only juniors. Dylan Mills and Ryan Coole were only sophomores and were already one of the premier defensive pairs in the state. Senior Cade Ledingham had struggled in goal and had actually been replaced by Kyle Kolquist in the Section Championship game. Then Randolph rolled the dice and put Cade back in goal for the State Tournament, and he'd shut down Jefferson and Edina. They won it all that year, and it was especially sweet.

    This year's team had been rated #1 almost from the start of the season. Let's Play Hockey magazine actually had them third in the first poll, until Hill-Murray had knocked off #1 Edina and then East knocked off Hill-Murray. So they were the favorite, just as they had been two years ago.....and last year. Would they get the bounces this time?

    East had to come back from a 3-0 deficit the last time they had played Anoka. It probably wouldn't be a good idea to try and repeat that feat tonight. I felt that if East could keep it close, like within a goal, they would pull away in the third period which had been their strongest period all season.

    East was designated the "away" team for this game, but it wasn't really a disadvantage. In fact, in the quarterfinals in the two classes, seven of the eight winners had been the "away" team. Having the option to change lines last doesn't necessarily translate into a win, as had been already proven. Some coach said (not sure who, I'll have to go to my previous tapes and look that one up) that he would rather not have the last change option, because it was one less thing to think about and worry about. For what it's worth.

    The early moments of the game were pretty even. Anoka came out with speed and strong forechecking as had been expected by everyone. Adam Coole was going to a major key for East tonight. He'd been strong (sensational at times) last night, not so strong in their first game. I had a feeling that he was going to rise to the occasion tonight.

    East took the first penalty of the game with just under five minutes played. Rheese Carlson was sent off to the box for interference. Reinholz had the first big chance on the power play, but Adam kicked his leg out for the save, and just after that Anoka returned the favor by taking a penalty. Their short-lived power play had done no damage, and Jesse Wesp got to warm up Anoka's penalty box for two minutes. Just before East's penalty expired and they went on the power play, a long breakaway pass for Rick Talbot was a little too quick, and Coole froze the puck before Talbot could gather it in. As East's power play was about to expire, with Kevin Oswald parked in front of Anoka goalie Dan Scott, a Gabe Taggart centering pass took a weird deflection off an Anoka player's skate and into the goal. East, on a very fluky goal, had the 1-0 lead.

    Anoka responded just after the goal with vigorous pressure, and a weird bounce almost landed behind Coole in the East goal, but he managed to catch it just in time. He'd appeared slightly shaky a couple of times already, and he'd need to settle down. He did settle down and saved a point-blank shot by Talbot just after that. Then he pounced on a Hlavacek centering pass just before Reinholz could get his stick on it. A couple of close calls, but East maintained their lead.

    I believe it was the first action I'd seen Zach Burns in the tournament; Randolph had him on a line tonight with Jesse Hagadorn and Nick Serre, and they were looking strong as the third line. Just after that, I noticed a sign a "fan" was holding up saying "Anoka will Choke-a". C'mon, how stupid is that?

    The play for the remainder of the period was somewhat disorganized and haphazard. Both teams were doing a pretty good job of clogging the neutral zone and not allowing the other team to free-wheel into their zone. The Hounds put a brief period of pressure on Dan Scott in the final minute, but nothing came of it. East kept the 1-0 lead going into the first intermission. The shots were 10-7 in Anoka's favor.

    Between the first and second period, I turned to my brother and said "team that scores next, wins" and he grumbled something which loosely translates to "ah, shut up". Then my wife, Patty, said "East is gonna win", and I grumbled something that loosely translates to "ah, shut up....please". Heh-heh. But then I realized, she comes out with statements such as these from time to time, and she has never been wrong. . And she doesn't just do this when a team has a lead. She's said it when the game was scoreless, going both ways, and has been right. She thinks it's some kind of intuition, and I don't know what else to call it.

    Now that East had the lead, I was hoping the action would slow down just a bit. There had been an unusually high number of shots for both teams for an East state tournament game, and I would be happy just to see them bat the puck back and forth in a sloppy fashion for the next two periods. This was not to be. East came out strong, just missing the goal a couple of times, and Anoka shot back up the ice for a good chance on Coole. Then Anoka came back with a couple shots, and Rick Talbot had maybe their best chance of the game, from close in. Adam threw out his glove-hand and somehow made the save. Hagadorn came back with a good chance from the slot area, and an icing by Anoka ended the back-and-forth flurry. It'd been a very exciting start to the second period.

    Anoka went back on the power play when Mark Anunti took an interference penalty at the 5:12 mark. Once again, East had put themselves into a situation where Anoka's power play, which had been very good during the tournament, could capitalize. A furious scramble in front of Coole resulted in the puck coming out to Jesse Wesp less than 15 feet in front of East's goal. Coole was trapped outside the play, but Finnegan managed to get his stick on the shot and deflect it out of harm's way. Anoka recovered and moved the puck around well, but got nothing on net from in close. East cleared the puck to relieve the best pressure Anoka had put on so far during the game. A minute or so later, Oswald and Adam Sharratt from Anoka both went down hurt on the same play. Kevin's bell had appeared to be rung a little bit, but Adam's injury looked more serious; he had suffered an ankle sprain. Both players would return.

    Kevin came right back into action, and a couple minutes later created a stellar chance in the Anoka end, firing a backhand shot off Scott. The rebound skipped past Dan Roman before he could get his stick on it. As had been the case all throughout the game, they traded excellent scoring chances; a Tornado pass found Scott Krzmarzick all alone right in front of Coole, but Adam made another great save. Anoka came back after another East chance, but a loose puck in front of Coole was turned away by East's defense. The pace of the game, which started fast, now was getting furious, and it was only incredible goaltending by both teams which prevented a 5-5 or 10-10 score!

    As it was, East still held on to their 1-0 lead. Gabe Taggart then had a chance in front of Scott, and didn't bury it. After the pace "slowed" for about a half minute, Roman blasted a shot off Scott. Mike Marshall was flying through the slot for the rebound, missing it and crashing head over heals (skates?) into the net, knocking it off its mooring. Whew!

    When Burns was upended coming into the Anoka zone, the puck was left loose behind the right face-off circle. Ross Carlson fired a shot on goal....and it went in! Scott had to have been screened, because it wasn't a particularly hard shot. But it was a 2-0 lead for East. It should be mentioned that Burns was playing with Ross and Roberg at the time because Rheese had a shoulder pop out during play and was on the bench having it fixed. He would return.

    East had carried the majority of the play during the second period. Their celebration at increasing their lead lasted exactly 20 seconds. Anoka won the face-off and Reinholz tore into East's zone with Pavel Hlavacek. The two worked a perfect back and forth passing play and Reinholz didn't miss on this one. Anoka had cut East's lead in half at the 13:47 mark, and this was how the second period ended. East had outshot Anoka 11-6 in the period and now had a slight 18-16 edge on shots for the game.

    We felt confident in East's chances. They were heading into the period that had been their strongest all season. It was their strongest period in the Section 7AA semifinal against Grand Rapids, their strongest in the 7AA final against Elk River, and it had been their strongest last night against Jefferson. Yet, I still remembered...

    In 1991, a nearly unknown East team suddenly found themselves in the State Championship game against Hill-Murray. They had got there on the strength of a physical style which had punished their opponents. This style had been used to beat a heavily favored Richfield team into submission in the quarterfinal game. Late in the second period, East scored to increase their margin to two goals over Hill-Murray. The Pioneers immediately answered back with a goal, and East carried a one-goal lead into the third period. In that period, three unanswered Pioneer goals caught, passed, and buried East, sending them home looking for their first State Championship in 31 years, although it was their best finish since then.

    When I mentioned this between periods, I was told in a nice way to "tell your statistics to shut up" LOL. I knew this team was a lot more talented than the '91 Hounds team, if not more physical. What would happen in the third period?

    East didn't go into a defensive shell, but they made sure they weren't caught unguarded. They made smart passes out of their zone when they weren't carrying the puck out. They made sure someone was there to carry away loose pucks in front of Adam before an Anoka player could jump on the rebound. And they kept applying pressure in Anoka's zone, which led to the goal which provided a bit of breathing room at 3:43. After Anoka had iced the puck, East controlled the ensuing face off. Rheese got a shot off, which was deflected behind the goal. Roberg tapped the puck against the back of the net, Rheese went and got it, coming out in front of the goal. He tried to jam it in the next past Scott, but the puck was left underneath Scott. Just before he could sit down on the puck and freeze it, Chad came out and knocked it into the net. 3-1 East!! Scott got up and tried complaining to the official, but he had no complaint. It was a clean heads-up goal.

    East wasn't going to be denied after this. Their defense became even more smothering (I believe "smothering" was the word Lou Nanne had used to describe Anoka's defense the previous day?), and with Adam playing the best game I've seen all season, it was just a matter of counting down the seconds and minutes. Finnegan took a high-sticking penalty at 5:01, and it gave Anoka another chance to get back into the game. Anoka's power play didn't amount to much, and they were starting to look a little frantic and out of synch. They did have one excellent chance when Johnson fired a shot which Coole left for a rebound. Reinholz was camped out at the goal mouth but shot the rebound wide.

    Nick Serre was tripped by Ryan Krzmarzick with 7:08 left to play, and Anoka had just dug the hole a little deeper. An East goal here would put the game away, but they took their time, preferring a conservative attack to possibly allowing a short-handed break by Anoka. There were no real chances during the two minutes they had the man advantage.

    Anoka pulled their goalie with a minute to go, and managed to keep the puck in East's zone for the most part. One flurry ended in a skirmish between Rheese and Reinholz. Anoka's best player had been taken off the ice for the remainder of the game. Forty-one seconds were left.

    In the final 41 seconds, Anoka managed only one shot on goal. East kept the puck pinned to the side; when it came out, they always had bodies planted in front of the net to make sure loose pucks wouldn't be pounced on. The final seconds ticked down until the final gun. The Hounds piled onto the ice in celebration!!

    In a ways, this championship was more satisfying to me than it had been three years ago. The '95 Hounds, as I said before, weren't expected to win. They had looked to still be a year away. This year's team has had to fight through so much adversity, from everyone gunning to knock them off to the Rheese Carlson situation. And then there were the players, some of whom had felt the disappointment of coming so close the previous two years. This game was their vindication. They deserved to win! For the seniors, it'll be a moment they can always remember and cherish. It was also nice to see this happen in the last game played in the "old" Rivercentre. The tournament moves to the Target Center now for the next two or three years before it resumes at the new building to be built on this same site.

    By, the way, were there any water bottles left which hadn't been emptied on Mike Randolph's head after the game? ROFL. I hope that wasn't his best suit!

    March 10, 1998

    End Of The Season. Another season has come and gone; seems like just yesterday it was only beginning! The Hounds have once again exceeded my expectations, and are the State Class AA champions. I have a strong feeling they'll represent themselves well in defense of the trophy next year. They may or may not repeat, and to tell you the truth, it doesn't matter right now. It's time to kick back and revel in what they did this season, and to pay tribute to the team.

    Seniors. Let's start with the departing seniors. Each of them has contributed greatly to East's success this season, and they are worthy of mention:

  • Nick Angell
  • Rheese Carlson
  • Adam Coole
  • Jesse Hagadorn
  • Jesse Karich
  • Kevin Oswald
  • Justin Patterson
  • Dan Roman
  • Mike Salmela
  • Gabe Taggart
  • My best wishes to all the seniors in whatever endeavors they undertake in the future. Thanks, guys!

    Special recognition I thought I would pay a special tribute to the following in certain catagories:

    Offensive Star: There were several who showed a knack for finding the net this season. Gabe Taggart, Kevin Oswald, Ross Carlson, Rheese Carlson and Patrick Finnegan each scored at least 20 goals this year, presenting opponents with the dilemna of how to shut the Hounds down. There was no single line they could key on, and even if they could somehow shut down all the lines, the defense could put the puck in the net. My pick for the best of these is obvious: Rheese Carlson. With 41 points in only 21 games, he would have easily led the team had he been able to play the entire season.

    Defensive Star: With Nick Angell and Patrick Finnegan rushing the puck up the ice so much this season, someone had to stay back just in case the opposing team managed to gain control and attack back the other way. Mark Anunti showed a classic lack of selfishness by doing just this. More than once, he was faced with a odd-man break coming his way, and stifled the attack before it could turn into a scoring chance.

    Most Improved Player: When I think back on how the individual players looked at the start of the season, and compare them to how they were at the end of the season, there are several who showed startling improvement. Nick Serre and Jesse Hagadorn both overcame obstacles and had a very solid role on the third forward line late in the season, and they are deserving of mention for that very reason. But the player I've selected is Mike Salmela. By the time the section tournament was underway, Mike Randolph showed enough confidence in him to put him on the penalty killing unit at times against Grand Rapids. A BIG, steady player who didn't have any flash, just a lot of good solid defensive work in the Hounds zone.

    Most Valuable Player: Everyone on this team contributed a lot, and had considerable value. Some more than others. But the player who was the ultimate example in hard work, enthusiam, and getting the clutch goals (such as the two he scored in the State semi-final against Bloomington Jefferson) is my choice for MVP: Kevin Oswald. But, if you base this award on the question "How would the team have done without him?", then it goes to goalie Adam Coole. So call it a tie!

    In addition, recognition needs to be given to those players not already mentioned: Zach Burns, Jon Hedberg, Eric Johnson, Andy Letourneau, Nick Licari, Mike Marshall, Tyler Olson and Chad Roberg. They all played an integral part in making this season's team the success it was.

    Comparisons. Mike Randolph said it was hard to compare this team to previous East squads, but I'll give it a try. Based strictly on their on-ice record, they were the best team East had ever fielded. They didn't have the offensive firepower the 1994-95 and 1995-96 editions had, they didn't have the stifling defense the 1996-97 Hounds did, but they easily had the best mix of offense, defense and goaltending of any East team I've seen. I've been watching the Hounds since the 1974-75 season, and this one was certainly the most entertaining team I've ever witnessed.

    Before this season started, if you had asked me which of the past East squads was my favorite, I would have responded with the 1990-91 Hounds, who came oh-so-close to winning State that year. There wasn't a lot of scoring on that team, but they had a lot of size and strength. They were slower than the best teams in the state, but they would hit you....and hit you....and hit you, and by the third period, they'd find themselves on the attack and would usually win the game. A classic game that they played that season came in the State Quarterfinals, when they met a much faster, better skilled Richfield team. The Hounds were heavy underdogs, but the game plan of being very physical with the Spartans gradually wore them down. Four third period goals sealed a 5-1 East victory.

    On Doing This Page. This page started as a kind of lark. I never expected much to come of it, and I certainly never anticipated the response I've received this season. It might have taken more of my time than it should have; it certainly wound up taking more of my time than I intended! And the time I've spent has been worth every minute. I've learned a lot about the history of the sport in this state from other people than I had imagined possible.

    Through doing research on past teams, I was able to relive a lot of memories that had become dormant over the years. It was with a special satisfaction that I tracked two very good teams East had while I was there; the 1974-75 team which won the consolation trophy at the State Tournament, and the 1975-76 that might have done even better if not for being defeated by a very strong Mounds View Mustangs team in the Section 2 finals. This research will continue and will become more inclusive during the off-season.

    Feedback. I tried to respond to every email I received this season. Sometimes this wasn't possible. Sometimes I received information that I really had nothing to contribute to. And, unfortunately, there were a few emails that weren't deserving of any response. Thankfully, those bile-filled emails were in the slender minority. I appreciate the suggestions that I received during the season. Several have led to changes in these pages that I believe have made the pages a lot more informative and entertaining.

    I would like to thank Brandon Johnson for his suggestion on putting pics on this page. Text is nice, and stats are nice, but after awhile they lose their luster and become somewhat mundane. The pics (and wavs) will become a larger part of this page next season. Thanks go out also to various people who have kept me abreast of what was going on with other teams in the state. I've received a wealth of information on teams such as Rochester John Marshall, Anoka, Roseau, Grand Rapids, Edina, Owatonna and Albert Lea. Sorry if I forgot any of the others, I'm going by memory here LOL. Thanks for all those who helped fill me in on their teams! Hopefully next season there will be similar information coming from other teams. No matter how poorly or how well your teams play, I'm interested in hearing how they are doing!

    I would also like to give thanks to Mark Fleischer of WDSM 710-AM All Sports radio. He was the contributor of wavs of radio replays of East goals which I posted with various game reviews throughout the season.

    Prognostications. I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at some of the predictions I've read (and made) since the start of the season:

    The worst prediction I saw all season was the one I made myself at the start of the season, when I predicted the Hounds would go 16-6 and lose in the State quarterfinals. Now, I haven't done drugs for 16 years, but you sure as hell wouldn't have known it by that! Some day I gotta learn to practice some "blind belief". Ummm....naaah. I believe things as I see them unfold, and it took a few games for me to realize that this year's Hound team was capable of something special.

    Here are a few I received:

    I can't believe what you have done to Hermantown in your ratings. 55th does not do them justice at all. They have outperformed Eveleth, Virginia, and Cloquet. I hope that this injustice will soon be corrected. They are a team that deserves at least a top twenty rating, and I am confident that they will earn it soon enough. You just watch, they are the team to beat.

    written on 12/25

    Boy, was he right. Hermantown finished second in the state in Class A in the State Tournament.

    what about buffalo? $20 says they are the team to make the state tournement out of section 6A.

    written on 1/2

    Too bad I'm not a gambling man. I could have used the $20. For the record, Buffalo ended their season with a Section 6A quarterfinal loss to Hutchinson.

    Myself and many others in section 7 would like nothing better then to watch East get buried by Grand Rapids, Hibbing, or Greenway. Don't doubt this happening because the first games against you were just warmups to be ready to punish you in playoffs.

    written on 1/11

    Oh, I knew I had to post this one. And this was the nicest of four emails this person sent! I think the results of what East did this season are answer enough to his "prediction"

    Next year. What can we look forward to next year? Well, I don't want to get caught up in a lot of speculation, at least not yet. Let's save that for next October. In the meantime, no matter what happens next year, East will wear the title of "Class AA State Hockey Champions". How much better than that can it get?

    As for me, I'm going to take some time off from web-page stuff and relax. My wife and I are going back to Las Vegas for a couple of weeks to get some sun, relax, and put the day-to-day grind behind us for awhile. And then I'm going to spend the summer working on "the perfect tan" LOL...and pounding up and down the Munger Trail on my Trek.

    In the meantime, If you get the urge, and you have access to Internet Relay Chat, log onto any of the DalNet servers and type /join #bearden. If it's after 10 p.m., you'll likely see a chatter there under the name of Duluthbear. Stop in and say hi!

    Have a great summer, folks. Keep it safe, keep it fun, and we'll see you next fall!

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    last updated march 10, 1998