Duluth East Hockey
The Hound Zone

November 18, 2000

Early looks. Once again, this season's schedule looks very tough. East will face the same opponents they faced last year; the addition of three games per the State League allowed East to add Park Center, Roseville and Alexandria to an already difficult schedule.

East will have to overcome some losses due to graduation. Losing Ross Carlson, Zach Burns and Trevor Marmon will hurt. So will losing Tom Sawatske who decided to "graduate" to the US Developmental program.

On the plus side, players such as Nick Licari, Nick Nelson, Andy Letourneau, Tom Kolar, Eric Johnson, Weston Tardy, Mike Stellmaker, Seth Amadio and Tom Allen ensure this will be a very tough squad for opponents to deal with. Dan Hoehne will provide stellar goaltending, being in his third year as the Hounds starting netminder. Overall, there is much reason to look forward to this season.

How well will they do? I ask myself (and others) this question every season, and I'm rarely correct. Given their State runner-up finish last season, and considering they only lost five players, you would think they'd be equally as good this year. But it's not so simple as this. Chemistry will mean a lot. Will it be there? Injuries, as always, will play a role. The Hounds did fairly well in this department last year. With Tom Allen moved to forward and the loss of Sawatske, how good will the defense be? I think it's a given the Hounds will score plenty of goals, but will the D be able to get over this year? We'll find out soon enough; travelling to Elk River is a helluva way to start off the season.

November 21, 2000

Varsity Online poll. Varsity Online has come out with their first boys' hockey poll for the season. East is ranked #1. Jink, or what? Nah.

Overall, this area is well represented. The only other ranked in the Class AA top 20 is Greenway (#10). But in Class A, International Falls is #7, Ely is #8, Hermantown is #9, Duluth Marshall is #10, and Silver Bay is ranked #18.

Keep in mind however, that these are from Varsity Online. The published AP/Let's Play Hockey poll will probably be released later this week.

Anybody surprised that East is the preseason favorite in Class AA?

December 18, 2000

First six games. With about one-quarter of the regular season on the board, it's time to take a look and try to answer the question of how good the Hounds are this season.

Right off, it's tough enough to play your first six games of the season on the road. Tougher when you consider that East has played five of the better teams in the state already (Elk River, Edina, Roseville, Cloquet and Osseo). Any of these teams can hold their own and then some with the best the state has to offer.

East has done quite well against those teams. Detractors will say that a 4-2 record indicates a falloff from last season; they couldn't be more wrong. East still has questions on the D, to be sure, but their first two lines can dominate. Some breakdowns on the blue line cost them against Elk River. A penalty call in overtime didn't help matters, either. Still, they had to feel good after that first game.

Against Edina, the D stepped up and proved they could play extremely well against a quality opponent. East dominated here by a 6-0 score. There are few things more satisfying than having the Hounds go down to Braemar and kick the Hornets around the ice for 45 minutes LOL.

Then things got ugly. I'm not going to speak much about the Park Center incident except to say that we were at the bout....errrr....game, and we saw this damn thing coming all game. It's the same ole; teams which find they can't skate with East try to beat on them to contain them. It doesn't make for good hockey. It does make for the potential for exactly this type of outcome to occur. If East never scheduled P.C. again, I wouldn't shed a tear. This game served no purpose.

Well, okay, it did serve one purpose. It let East see how they'd do against an excellent Roseville team the following night with three of their top defensemen suspended for the game. The team came together in adverse conditions and played some of their best hockey of the season thus far. I'm still shaking my head wondering how the zebras could take so long to call a interference penalty on East after Licari had scored on a long shot and they had already brought the puck to center ice for the faceoff! Must have been a hanging chad the refs found.

In their 3-1 win over Cloquet, you could look at this two ways. First, Cloquet took it to the Hounds and East still won thanks to two third-period goals by Nick Licari and some unbelievable goalkeeping by Dan Hoehne. Second, very good teams find a way to win even while being outplayed. Take your pick.

Was there anything left in the tank when they had to hit the road to Osseo the very next night and let a 2-1 lead after two periods slip away, giving Osseo the 3-2 victory? Might be, might be. Make no mistake about this--Osseo has a very good team this year. But it's a game which, on paper at least, East should win. Trouble is, they don't play the game on paper. It's on ice which counts.

Brief (very brief) breather this coming week when the Hounds finally get to the DECC and take on Central on Thursday followed by Anoka on Friday. After that, it's down to the Holiday Classic at Braemar where we'll get another indication of how good the Hounds are. Jefferson, Edina and Hill-Murray will be their opponents. Hoping that the Jefferson game features a little more defense than last year's 10-8 result in favor of Jefferson. If East can get over on all three of those teams, we'll have to say they're one of the top two or three teams in the state. If they get punked, all bets are off.

Early conclusion? Too early to think State. Greenway has their best team since 86-87, and Cloquet has rebounded extremely well after losing a lot of their scoring punch from last season. Hibbing and Grand Rapids can never be counted out, either. This looks like the toughest section in the state, with the eventual winner having an excellent chance of taking it all down in St. Paul next March.

This is a quick team, and again they're very deep. As Fitzgerald and Jacques gain some experience on the blue line, we'll be strong again on defense. Overall it's another small team, and no doubt opponents will be looking to take advantage of this. But, East has proven they won't back down from any physical challenge. My early prediction is they'll at least make the 7AA championship game. Course, I've been wrong before. I reserve that right.

January 1, 2001

Victory Important Goals. This statistical indicator was first used at the end of last season to determine who the recipient of the Offensive Star would be for the year.

"Victory-Important Goals" works like this; each goal is given a value, based on how many goals are needed to win a game, divided by the total goals scored in that game. An example is that if you win 5-2, you only need three goals to win, so each goal is awarded 0.6 points (3 needed/5 scored). If you win by a single goal, say 4-3, then each goal is awarded one point (4 needed/4 scored). If you lose a game, then there are no Victory-Important goals to be awarded, because obviously you lost.

Using the formula, here is how the numbers stack up so far this season:

Nick Licri5.41
Andy LeTourneau3.83
Eric Johnson3.40
Tom Kolar3.09
Bryan Olds1.69
Nick Nelson1.41
Tony Sternberg1.24
Luke Kuettel1.04
Weston Tardy1.00
Tim Johnson0.88
Seth Amadio0.44
Mike Stellmaker0.40
Zach Fitzgerald0.40
Tom Allen0.17

Not much should be read into these numbers; they are not indicative of who the team's MVP should be. They are simply a way to measure, in a sense, which players tend to score the big goals in close games. Licari's two goals against Roseville in a 5-3 win followed by two goals in East's 3-1 victory over Cloquet helped his VIG numbers significantly.

Edina Holiday Classic. This was a good chance to see how East stacked up against three of Minnesota's best teams, and the results were mixed. One key lesson learned was the simplest of lessons; it's far easier to win when you get the early lead than when you don't. Jefferson's 3-0 first period jump on the Hounds made it awfully tough to come back. East nearly did this, and a disallowed Hounds goal late in the third period (which would have tied the game 3-3), followed by a empty netter by the Jags, sealed a 4-2 Jefferson win.

East came out fast and furious against Edina and won this game quite handily. Officiating was "interesting" in this one, as Edina physically pounded East and still had the vast majority of the power plays. Can you spell "homer"? I knew you could. Tom Kolar had a four point night (2G 2A) to lead East to a 5-2 win.

Against Hill-Murray in the final game, East again had to come from behind as the Pioneers led 2-0 after one period and 4-3 after the second period. Nick Licari led a four goal East eruption in the final period as the Hounds posted a 7-4 decision. Nick's hat trick was the first an East player has had this season.

Line combinations continue to be experimented with. The Kolar-Eric Johnson-LeTourneau worked out very well.

Five keys to getting it done from here on out:

  • Dan Hoehne has to come up big when the defenses lapses, as it still is doing too often.

  • The players who are expected to bury their chances need to. This includes Licari, Kolar, LeTourneau and Eric Johnson.

  • Injuries need to be kept to a minimum. Not much they can do about this, I believe it's more a matter of luck than anything else. Stellmaker is out for awhile; the Hounds have faired well overall in this area.

  • The power play has to be better. It reeked, for lack of a better word, against Central, Anoka and Jefferson. It was better against Edina, and they need to continue that trend. Some huge games are coming up (Cloquet, Greenway, Hibbing and Moorhead) and they have to be able to convert on the man advantage if they hope to win these games.

  • Keep up the intensity for an entire game. There are flashes of brilliance, periods where they really take it to their opponent, but that intensity for 45 minutes needs to be there. If they can do this, they can play with (and beat) anybody in the state.
    January 10, 2001

    Apple Valley 4, East 2
    Greenway 4, East 0

    "They didn't seem too enthusiastic about their jobs"--Ring Lardner in "Eight Men Out".

    That, in a nutshell, describes East's effort against Apple Valley last Saturday. Apple Valley came ready to play. East came ready to, uh, I have no idea what East came ready for, but it sure wasn't to give their best effort. And they deservedly lost because of this attitude. Another game where they gave up 3-0 lead (like the Jefferson game), came back to 3-2 (like Jefferson) and then gave up an empty netter at the end (gee, just like Jefferson).

    Against Greenway, they came out somewhat flat again. Greenway only had a 1-0 lead going into the third period, but when Gino Guyer made it 2-0 just 12 seconds into the third period, the emotional burst left no doubt that Greenway would win their first game against East in 13 years.

    The Greenway game was a blow to East's hopes of securing the all-important #1 seed in Section 7AA. To gain this now, they need to beat Hibbing convincingly, get past Cloquet, and then hope that Hibbing beats Greenway in their second meeting later this year. Failing any of that, it's tough to see how East gets the top seed.

    Getting a bit ahead of myself here; a huge game against White Bear Lake is next this Friday. Huge from the perspective of seeing if this team will start to turn things around and put together a solid 45 minute effort. Randolph looks for improvement; the improvement just isn't there from what I can see. It'd better start.

    January 12, 2001

    East 4, White Bear Lake 2

    White Bear Lake came into this game on a tear, having won their last ten games, including a victory over Bloomington Jefferson. It would be a severe test for an East team which had been slumping and not playing very well over the past few weeks. Fresh off that 4-0 smacking by Greenway, it would be interesting to see how East would perform against the third-rated Bears.

    It turned into perhaps the strongest Hounds effort of the season thusfar. After the two teams had played to a 2-2 tie after two periods, East took over and dominated the third period on their way to a 4-2 win. Luke Kuettel led the way with his first hat trick. It appears to be an excellent line combo with LeTourneau and Licari, one which I for one hope remains. January 16, 2001

    East 3, Hill-Murray 2 (ot)

    Back at the DECC for only their third home game of the season, East faced a young Hill-Murray team that is assured of much improvement in the future. These two teams nearly always play very closely matched games, and tonight was no exception.

    A fairly serious East defensive letdown in the final minute of the third period allowed the Pioneer to tie the game 2-2 and send it to overtime. The overtime was a short one, however, as John Jacques slapshot gave the Hounds their second straight victory heading into what should be a very good game up in Roseau on Friday night.

    January 19, 2001

    East 5, Roseau 2

    The Hounds came out very strong in this game, causing Roseau to change goalies after East had a 3-0 lead early in the second period. From that point, the Rams attempted a spirited comeback, closing the gap to 3-2, but late goals by Bryan Olds and Andy LeTourneau put the game out of reach. This was a very nice effort and result for East, especially on the road.

    January 23, 2001

    East 3, Hibbing 2

    East came out slow at the start, and it cost them an early goal to the host Bluejackets. Tom Kolar's goal midway through the period sent the two teams to the locker room tied 1-1. Nick Nelson gave East the lead in the first minute of the second period, but the eventual backbreaker would come on a Hibbing power play when Seth Amadio fed Nick Licari nicely for a short-handed goal and a two goal East lead.

    Hibbing came storming back in the third period, closing the gap to a single goal at 12:45 while on the power play. An East penalty in the final minute coupled with Hibbing pulling their goalie led to a fury of activity in front of Hounds goalie Dan Hoehne. Luckily, Hibbing came up just short and East gained a very important win from a section seedings standpoint.

    January 25, 2001

    East 4, Lakeville 1

    Props to Lakeville's goalie; East put 21 shots on net in the first period and couldn't bury a single chance. A fairly dominant first period with nothing to show for it. These things can sometimes come back to haunt you.

    Not tonight. Tim Johnson finally got East on the board early in the second period with his first of two goals. Luke Kuettel and Nick Licari chipped in with a goal apiece, and the Hounds skated away with a 4-1 victory against an opponent who rightly wasn't taken lightly, given Lakeville's win over Apple Valley earlier in the season.

    East faces a tough Hastings team this Saturday afternoon, and it will be another gauge of just how far East has come after their earlier losses to Apple Valley and Greenway.

    January 27, 2001

    East 10, Hastings 2

    East came ready to play, and it appeared that Hastings didn't. That, more than any other statement, summed up what happened today. East shot out to a 5-0 first period lead, and the outcome of the game was in no doubt after that. Led by hat tricks by Andy LeTourneau and Nick Nelson, the Hounds attacked hard throughout the game. Hastings' only two goals came on the power play, lending some credence to the Hounds defense.

    This was overall the most dominating showing for East so far this season, and it appears that they could be peaking at the right time.

    January 31, 2001

    East 10, Denfeld 0. There was no suspense here once the first puck was dropped. East simply came out and demolished the Hunters tonight in the most one-side game East has played this season. Four goals in each of the first two periods sent the game into running time...mercifully. The Hunters had no chance of handling the Hounds team speed and four line attack.

    Final shots on goal were insane, 50-2 in favor of East. My shots records only go back to the 1991-92 season, and the two shots Denfeld had broke the previous record of shots allowed by East, that being four by St. Francis in the 1997 Section 7AA quarterfinals.

    It wasn't much of a test for East; that test will come this Saturday when they take on Grand Rapids at the DECC.

    Hibbing down to Class A??

    (rant mode on)

    This one has me scratching my head. You have a team which has had more success in Class AA than any team on the Range, and the players vote to bump down to Class A next season. What is up with that? Mark Decenzo (Hibbing's coach) wasn't in favor of it, and neither should any tradition-loving fan on the Range and down here in Duluth.

    No doubt this will help Hibbing's chances of getting to the State Tournament starting next season, but for what? To play in front of 5,000 fans in St Paul instead of 17,000?

    Let's dispel this notion quickly that Class A is equal to Class AA. It isn't. Period. I know the age-old argument that the best teams in Class A could play with the best in Class AA. With very few exceptions, this is a myth. And if you look at the overall picture, with Class AA teams coming out on the winning end in 65-70% of "inter-class" games over the last three years, the myth is exposed for what it is; wishful thinking.

    I don't pretend to know the mindset up in Hibbing, but this is a bad decision. Say goodbye to the great section matchups Hibbing used to have with Elk River, East, Greenway and Grand Rapids. Say hello to matchups with Silver Bay, Mesabi East and Chisholm. No offense to those fine schools, but those tournament matchups will really pack them in.

    (rant mode off)

    Media reporting scores

    Hey, um, Chris Long, somebody from your station might want to check this website for East scores before reporting the wrong score. I can understand the mistake made on the 6 p.m. broadcast, but to repeat the error at 10 p.m., six hours after the game has ended??? Reference reporting East 7, Hastings 2 on both broadcasts Saturday night. Twas the score after two periods, not the final. Gracias.

    Either that, or fire your source for scores reporting LOL

    February 6, 2001

    Cloquet 1, East 0. Three things are gone with this loss to Cloquet. First, the 16 game winning streak they had over the Lumberjacks. That's minor stuff. Second, and more importantly, any chance at top seed in 7AA. Mike Randolph said in the Trib today that it doesn't matter. I disagree. You want the top seed for the chance to play St. Francis in the quarterfinals. You do not want to play the ever-dangerous Grand Rapids in that first game. East very possibly will now have to do this. Third, that momentum is gone. Kaput. Disappeared.

    It took a strong defensive effort by what I believe is the best defensive core in the section in Cloquet. They shut down Licari, LeTourneau, Kolar and the others. They held East to under 20 shots, and not many of those were good chances to boot.

    It took an East team that hit the ice tonight and didn't play with the type of intensity they had recently showed. It looked more like the effort they were putting out at mid-season. You can get away with this against weaker teams. You do this against Cloquet, and you lose.

    It took a penalty by Zach Fitzgerald late in the third period to give Cloquet that shot they needed to break a scoreless tie. The emotional boost Cloquet gained by getting the first goal helped ensure that East would be kept off the scoreboard the remainder of the game.

    Cloquet outhustled, outplayed, outdefensed East. They deserved the win. For East, it's time to decide how much they really want to get through the toughest section in the state and get that trip back down to St. Paul the first week of March. Whatever leadership there is on this team needs to step up and make it clear to the rest of the team that anything less than a 100% effort won't get it done. It's far too late to start playing with less emotion and skill than what they are capable of.

    February 10, 2001

    East 4, Alexandria 1. This could be their first ever meeting (my records only go back to the 1969-70 season), so it was a treat to watch an opponent who East doesn't face every year....or any year. Alex played a tough game and kept it close, but four different Hounds scored en route to the win. A nice rebound after their tough loss to Cloquet last Tuesday night.

    February 13, 2001

    East 7, Superior 2. The Spartans jumped out to an early lead, but it was too much East in this one. More specifically, it was too much Tommy Kolar, Bryan Olds and Nick Nelson as their line tallied five goals in the game, continuing to impress as the Licari-LeTourneau-Kuettel line has problems putting the puck in the net.

    February 17, 2001

    Moorhead 2, East 1. Moorhead is much improved this season, and is primed to return to the State Tournament for the first time since 1997. They gave strong evidence of this tonight, coming back after East took a very early 1-0 lead (in the first minute of the game), shutting down East's offense and then winning the game in overtime.

    This isn't what you want; you don't want to enter the section playoffs on a losing note. It's the first time since the 92-93 season East has lost their final regular season game (In that season, East not only was defeated by Virginia in the final regular game, but was knocked out of the 7AA playoffs by Virginia in the quarterfinals which began five days later). They need to forget this loss and focus on Forest Lake, who won't be an easy opponent. If they (or any of the four top seeds are looking ahead to their semi-final game, they'll be watching that semi-final from the stands. Well, not Greenway; they have the luxury of playing winless St. Francis in the quarterfinals. That, in a nutshell, is why you want the top seed.

    PageStat view of the sections. Once again, we take the sections and see who the favorites should be and who has a decent shot in the Minnesota Boys' Hockey section playoffs.

    A team within 0.75 points of the top PageStat rating in their section is considered a "favorite", teams who are within 1.50 points are placed in the "good chance" catagory, and those within 2.25 points are labelled as "you never know".

    Section 1AA: Favorites: Austin, Rochester Mayo.

    Section 2AA: Favorites: Hastings, Cretin-Derham Hall You never know: Woodbury.

    Section 3AA: Favorites: White Bear Lake, Roseville You never know: Hill-Murray.

    Section 4AA: Favorite: Elk River You never know: Armstrong.

    Section 5AA: Favorites: Holy Angels, Bloomington Jefferson, Apple Valley You never know: Burnsville, Eastview.

    Section 6AA: Favorites: Edina, Eden Prairie, Wayzata.

    Section 7AA: Favorites: Duluth East, Greenway Good chance: Cloquet, Hibbing.

    Section 8AA: Favorites: Moorhead, Bemidji, Roseau You never know: Alexandria, St. Cloud Tech, St. Cloud Apollo

    Section 1A: Favorite: Rochester Lourdes Section 2A: Favorite: Hermantown You never know: Sauk Rapids.

    Section 3A: Favorite: Red Wing You never know: Mahtomedi, Rosemount.

    Section 4A: Favorites: Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls.

    Section 5A: Favorites: Blake, Breck Good chance: Benilde-St Margaret's You never know: Totino-Grace

    Section 6A: Favorites: Mound-Westonka, Orono Good chance: Hutchinson, Shakopee, Litchfield You never know:Prior Lake

    Section 7A: Favorites: Ely, Duluth Marshall Good chance: International Falls, Duluth Denfeld You never know: Mesabi East, Duluth Central, Silver Bay, Two Harbors.

    Section 8A: Favorites: East Grand Forks, Warroad, Lake of the Woods Good chance: Crookston You never know: Thief River Falls

    Disclaimer: These are not my personal picks, only the picks as a computerized rating system sees it. For the record, last year three teams not considered a favorite made the trip to the state tournament (one Good Chance, one You Never Know and one not even considered by the system). Two teams made the trip in 1999. So you still have to get the job done on the ice. Looking ahead can kill your chances. Assuming somebody is a weak opponent will kill you.

    My picks? 1AA: Rochester Mayo; too much experience for Austin to handle. 2AA: Hastings. Cretin has a chance, but Hastings will still get it done. 3AA: White Bear Lake, playing as well as anybody in the state. With Eric Aarnio in the nets, they shutout Roseville and Hill-Murray last week. 4AA: Elk River. Armstrong has a stellar record, but there have been a few bumps in the road lately, and they haven't played nearly as tough a schedule as the Elks. 5AA: Holy Angels. 6AA: Eden Prairie went through a huge slump earlier, but appears ready. Watch Wayzata, and watch Edina, who always plays toughest late in the season. 7AA: Cloquet (you think I'd jinx East by picking the Hounds?? Not a chance...seriously, Cloquet is playing better as a team). Anybody who can shutout East and Greenway a week apart has got some serious D on their side. They'll have the advantage on the big ice sheet in Hibbing when they play Greenway in the section final. 8AA: Moorhead. Roseau has the tradition and is my sentimental favorite, but the Spuds have too much.

    1A: Rochester Lourdes. Simply not a credible opponent in their section. 2A: Hermantown. Sauk Rapids was the early favorite but hasn't played up to their potential. 3A: Red Wing. 4A: Detroit Lakes. Fergus has played the tougher schedule, but DL is ready. 5A: Blake/Breck, flip a coin. The two best teams in the state in Class A have the misfortune of only having one of them get to make the trip to St. Paul. Okay, I'm waffling. I pick Breck. 6A: No good feel for this section, so I'm picking Shakopee to surprise. 7A: They better take a serious look at how seedings are done in this section, because 5N seed Ely will take it. 8A: East Grand Forks.

    And I bet I'm wrong on at least four of these picks.

    February 22, 2001

    East 4, Forest Lake 0 (7AA quarterfinal). The Licari-LeTourneau-Kuettel line sparked East tonight as they raced off to a 3-0 first period lead and then held on for a fairly easy 4-0 win. Little trouble with the Rangers despite some relatively uninspired play by the Hounds in the second and third period.

    The top four seeds in 7AA all advanced tonight, setting up a classic day of hockey at the DECC on Saturday afternoon, with Hibbing meeting Greenway in the noon game, followed by East and Cloquet. Hopefully the Hounds have saved their best for this game; they'll need it against a very quick and defensively stingy Lumberjacks team.

    For playoff coverage, nobody does it better than All Sports 710. Outside of their heavy coverage of East during the regular season, we've had a buffet of games to listen to when we couldn't attend during the past week.

    February 24, 2001

    Cloquet 4, East 1 (7AA semifinal). The team which buries its chances usually wins in hockey. The team which suffers the defensive lapses will usually lose. Hot goaltending is needed if you want to get to (and win) the state tournament.

    All three of these came into play today as we watched East outplayed Cloquet; in fact, it was the best effort the Hounds had put forth in their three games against the Lumberjacks this season. Ironically, it was East's worst result as Cloquet advanced to the 7AA title game against Greenway.

    Josh Johnson was the hero of the day for Cloquet, stopping 28 of the 29 shots he faced. On the other end, you can't fault Dan Hoehne for the loss. His defense simply broke down on occasion, and Cloquet took full advantage of those chances.

    Cloquet took a 1-0 first period lead and then increased the margin to two goals very early in the second period. East answered back with an unassisted goal by Tommy Kolar just two minutes later to make this game anybody's to win. It only took Cloquet 41 seconds to answer back, and they held this lead until Clay Wilson scored a long empty-netter with 19 seconds left in the game.

    East came on fast and furious in the third period, but Johnson was equal to the task, carrying Cloquet to their first section final in eight years. For East, it's a disappointing end to a season which saw them face their toughest schedule ever, and perform well.

    Greenway 7, Hibbing 1. Gino, Gino, Gino. Yes, the Raiders have other good players on their team this season, but it's Gino Guyer who provides the spark. He didn't disappoint today as his five point (one goal, four assists) performance led Greenway to a 7AA semi-final blowout of the Bluejackets at the DECC.

    Other thoughts. By the way, where the hell was the East band today? Someone will have to enlighten me as to why they didn't show up for the most important hockey game of the season. Carbon copy of their non-appearance at the 1999 semi-final game against Elk River.

    The DECC was virtually impossible to navigate around the corridors between periods. Having only three concession stands open at a game where they had to know there would be in excess of 4,000 fans in attendence is inexcusable, regardless of the winter storm which struck Duluth Friday night and Saturday morning. But what else is new? This understaffing, either by design or by a lack of preparation, is becoming commonplace.

    February 27, 2001

    John Gilbert. Since he moved up here a couple years ago and started writing for the Duluth Budgeteer, his articles have been some of the most insightful and enjoyable you'll find in this area. Some folks out there would disagree with my assertion, and that's fine. He has filled a void in the area of reporting in the local fishwraps that was in dire need of filing. A look back at how high school hockey used to be covered in the News-Tribune points to that. The coverage used to be extensive and in-depth.

    John's latest commentary on the contrasting reactions to losing their final game of the season between East and Denfeld was very interesting, to say the least. Without getting into a detailed explanation of what he wrote , I'll comment only on those parents who were apparently overheard saying that their underclassmen sons might be playing elsewhere next year.

    Folks, this type of reaction to a very tough loss solves nothing. It does nobody any good. It sends a very negative message to your sons. It's time to see this loss in its true light:

    1. East played very hard and lost.
    2. Cloquet played very hard and won.
    3. The loss wasn't the fault of the players.
    4. The loss wasn't the fault of East's coaching staff.
    5. Having your sons play elsewhere next year because of this (or anything else), be it the US Development Team, USHL, or whatever, doesn't change # 1-4 above one iota.

    Congratulate your sons for doing as well as they did this year. No, they didn't make it to state. It takes nothing away from what they accomplished this season, which is a very good showing against the toughest schedule in Minnesota.

    Congratulate the coaching staff for taking the time with your sons this season. It can be a thankless job at times. Whatever your opinion is of Mike Randolph, Larry Trachsel, etc., they have been instrumental in this team's success over the past ten years. Seven trips to the state tournament have occurred, two state championships, coming home from those seven trips with nothing less than a third place trophy. This is no accident. The talent was there, but the talent was molded into a top-rate team by the coaching staff. And for that, we should give players and coaches alike a huge recognition and a pat on the back. But don't give us this "well, my son is playing elsewhere next year" crap. It's immature and helps nothing. If a player believes that his future goals would be better served by moving on prior to graduation, that's one thing. But for this talk to surface now after a loss is B.S., pure and simple.

    My guess is that East will be back and still be doing very well next season, and the season after that, etc. Time to lower our expectations, forget the blame game, and realize that even the best of teams (Jefferson, Eden Prairie and Elk River come to mind) don't make the trip to state every year. It's unrealistic to expect they will.

    March 4, 2001

    State Tournament. East isn't alone in failing to return to the State Tournament this year. Only one team is returning in Class AA (Hastings), and only two teams (Rochester Lourdes and Fergus Falls) return in Class A. This is a refreshing change, to see so many new teams in the tournament. There are also two teams which have never been to the state tournament before in Eastview (Section 5AA) and Duluth Marshall (Section 7A). Marshall, of course, was a perennial entry in the old private school tournament back when they were Duluth Cathedral, but this is their first time in the public school tourney. Congrats to all teams which will be playing starting this Wednesday, especially the three area teams (Marshall, Hermantown and Greenway). Good luck to all!

    April 29, 2001

    End of season stuff. Another season has come and gone. The Hounds hopes for a repeat of their success in 1999-2000 weren't realized, to be sure, but it was still considered a successful season by any standard you care to choose. Let's face it; their competition in 7AA was extrememly talented this year, with Greenway and Cloquet putting squads on the ice that were capable of beating anybody on any given night.

    First, I'd like to wish good luck to East's departing seniors. The leadership of these seniors has always been instrumental in the ongoing success of the Greyhound hockey program. This year was no exception. Have fun and good luck in whatever you aspire to do in the future!

    Each year, certain "awards" are given out at the end of the season. These awards aren't sponsored by the East program, but they are my attempt to recognize outstanding accomplishment in certain areas. With that in mind, here we go...

    Defensive Star: In this catagory, Weston Tardy is the first of a few repeats. Having won the award last season, there was no way that anybody who watched him play could deny him this award yet again this season.

    Offensive Star: Last year was the inception of using "Victory-Important Goals" as a method of determining the winner of this award. For those who didn't read how this measurement works, it was described last season like this:

    "Victory-Important Goals" works like this; each goal is given a value, based on how many goals are needed to win a game, divided by the total goals scored in that game. An example is that if you win 5-2, you only need three goals to win, so each goal is awarded 0.6 points (3 needed/5 scored). If you win by a single goal, say 4-3, then each goal is awarded one point (4 needed/4 scored). If you lose a game, then there are no Victory-Important goals to be awarded, because obviously you lost.

    When you crunch the numbers for this season, the winner is Nick Licari. Amazingly, this is the third consecutive time Nick has garnered this award. His VIG total was 10.26, followed by Andy LeTourneau (6.43), Tom Kolar (5.35), Nick Nelson (4.64) and Bryan Olds (4.50) to round out the top five.

    Most Valuable Player: Once again, we have co-winners of the team MVP this season, going to Dan Hoehne and Nick Licari. Nick's two-way play and leadership were exemplary, and Dan simply kept East in a few of their closer games with his play between the pipes.

    Next season: It's impossible to speculate how the Hounds will be next season, or even how their team makeup will be. In each of the last three seasons, East lost their best returning defenseman prior to graduation to another level of hockey, and rumors are strong that this unfortunate string will continue heading into next season. Also, it was widely believed by many that Cloquet would be down this year due to heavy graduation. That belief couldn't have been more wrong. With that in mind, prediction is futile at best and thus pointless. I won't even try at this point.

    As for these pages, there are only two changes being contemplated:

    1. Possible addition of a Message Board through EZ Boards; the only drawback is that EZ has recently implemented pop-up ads in order to stay solvent which readers must suffer/endure. Unless you appreciate having to close multiple extra windows, that is!

    2. Scrapping of this project? Frankly, it's something I go through every season. I've been doing this for four years, and I get fried from it every year. Also, it's tough to even think about hockey when it's 75 outside. I always decide to put off any decision on whether I continue to do this or not until autumn. And each year, that decision comes later and with slightly less enthusiasm. I have other things I'd like to do, both in the area of webpage work and other projects. Spending more time with my wife is always a priority, no more so than it will be this year. Hey, sometimes she's more fun than hockey LOL.

    But, as I said, I will defer making a decision until at least September. Flip a coin...it could go either way. Until then, have a fun and safe summer!

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    last updated april 30, 2001