Hounds Escape 3-0 Deficit, Open 2-0
The Duluth-area high school hockey season got off to a rousing start, thanks to Duluth East’s rally for two victories last weekend. The opener, at Essentia Heritage Center last Friday night, was one of those 6-3 victories that might appear to have been easy, unless you saw it.
Coach Mike Randolph was able to record a first-game blow up of sorts because of his frustration that his Greyhounds had an extra week to get extra ready for the Bears, but the Bears had played two games the previous week and brought a 2-0 record to Duluth.
They dropped the season-opening puck and White Bear Lake’s Spencer Millard raced in and set up Carter Collins on the rush. Bang! A 1-0 lead for the Bears after 12 seconds. Two minutes later, Lleyton Roed pounced on the puck and drilled a shot past goalie Lukan Hanson, and it was 2-0 at 2:17.
Clearly rocked back on their heels, the Greyhounds tried to regain some rhythm, but Roed fed Grant Hofield for a clean shot into the upper right and it ws 3-0 on the 2-on-1.
Startled but scrambling, the Hounds battled back and Charlie Erickson scored with a shot deep on the left side at 6:08 to get East on the board, and Erickson scored again on a 2-on-1 at 7:21. Remarkably, Ricky Lyle battled for position in front and jammed in a shot after Ryder Donovan passed the puck from behind the goal at 12:34.
Horrible start, but the wild first period ended 3-3. Then the teams started playing the way the start might have been anticipated.
Hanson came back from the starting jolt, although he left the game for a stretch when hustling Bears attacker Roed crashed into him like a kamikazee. He made the save, although his head was pinned between Roed’s body and the right post and it took a few minutes to clear his head.
East put things back in order at 7:48 of the second period when David Holliday scored from the congested area in front of the net, a goal that stood up as the winner. Lyle got his second of the game into an empty net, and when the Bears tried again with goalie Evan Foss on the bench, Jonathan Jones again hit the open net, with 17 seconds left.
A 6-3 final, with three third-period goals, sounds impressive, and the Greyhounds don’t have to tell people the score included two empty-net goals. But they couldn’t fool Randolph. “We were awful!” Randolph said. “Two weeks to prepare, and then play like that? It was hard to watch.”
Saturday morning, the Greyhounds hopped on a bus and headed for Wayzata, where the Trojans had rallied from a 3-1 deficit to stun Hermantown 4-3 in overtime on Friday night. East won, 3-2. “We played much better,” said Randolph. “We came out better, our young players played better, and we were better all around.”
Hermantown, meanwhile, came home from Wayzata and beat Lakeville South 1-0 on a goal by sophomore Joey Pierce, moved up from defense to play wing with Blake Biondi on the potent first line. So far, the experiment looks good. Cloquet-Esko-Carlton has had a rocky two weeks. After opening with a 3-2 loss at Lakeville North and 5-3 at St. Thomas Academy, the Lumberjacks came home and were whipped 4-0 by a potent Chaska outfit, then White Bear Lake beat them 3-1 Saturday, on the rebound from Duluth East. Four tough foes, and an 0-4 start for new coach Shea Walters.
Denfeld, which looked good in the Jamboree under second-year coach Dale Jago, looked even better beating Minnehaha Academy 6-5 and Red Wing 8-2 on the road, and returned home to blank North Shore 4-0 for a 3-0 start.
Marshall, which opened with a 6-4 loss to Mounds View, went to Rochester to play Century and Mayo. Interim coach Bill Owens got his first victory with a 7-3 romp over Century, but the Saturday date with Mayo was postponed because of the pending snowstorm. Best news at Marshall is that coach Brendan Flaherty has been declared cancer-free, but will need this year to fully recover.
They Finally Got It Right
The NCAA leaves itself open to easy and frequent criticism for its football championship selection committee, but we have to pay the accolades because this time, it looks like they got it right.
The semifinals will pit No. 1 Alabama against No. 4 Oklahoma, and No. 2 Clemson faces No. 3 Notre Dame, both on New Year’s Day. Some other great games are scattered all over the bowl scene, and the best one of all might be Ohio State against Washington in the Rose Bowl. The Big Ten champion against the Pac-12 champion in the Rose Bowl — what a concept!
And then there’s the NFL. Last weekend was a disaster for the Central Division, as all four teams lost. The Vikings went to New England full of false hopes and after a competitive first half fell apart and lost 24-10 to the Patriots.
Their only salvation is that first-place Chicago lost 30-27 in overtime to the New York Giants, and Detroit was beaten 30-16 by the Los Angeles Rams. The Green Bay Packers looked very bad and lost 20-17 to visiting Arizona, and coach Mike McCarthy was fired right afterward.
Of the four division losses, only Chicago had an excuse, because the Bears were playing with a backup quarterback.
That all leaves the division wide open, but the Vikings face a huge task going to Seattle to play next Monday night. The loss dropped the Vikings to 6-5-1, while Seattle climbed ahead of them to 7-5 with their the Seahawks third straight victory, burying San Francisco 43-16 behind Russell Wilson’s four touchdowns and a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown by Bobby Wagner. The Seahawks ran the ball so effectively that Wilson completed only four passes in the first half — three of them for touchdowns.