John Gilbert Sports

East Dynasty Showing Signs of Wear

John Gilbert

Could this be the season that Duluth East’s hockey dynasty shows signs of cracking? The Greyhounds are, as usual, playing the toughest schedule possible, as coach Mike Randolph tries to do his usual job of overload training to set up a run at Section 7AA and the state tournament. After five games, the ’Hounds are 4-2, which is fitting because all five games have ended up with a 3-2 score -- victories over Cambridge-Isanti, Wayzata, Superior and Cloquet-Esko-Carlton, and losses to Elk River and Centennial.
“We will not have any easy games,” said Randolph, after East had spotted a strong Centennial team a 3-0 first-period lead, then rallied through the rest of the game before falling 3-2 Tuesday night at Heritage Center. “Next we have a makeup game with Anoka [Thursday], and then Andover on Saturday, both at Heritage.
“And then we go to Ridder Arena for the Schwan’s Cup, where we play Hill-Murray first.” East started off the hectic week last Thursday with a nail-biting 3-2 victory (of course) at Cloquet. After grabbing a 2-0 lead in the first period, East made it 3-1 after two, but the Lumberjacks prety much took the game over in the third period, closing the game to 3-2 and challenging to the finish.
“The first period, we should have given a refund,” said Cloquet-Esko-Carlton coach Dave Esse. “We were too tense, trying to not make mistakes.”
Esse noticed one figure out on the ice a lot for Duluth East -- No. 25, Phil Beaulieu. A stellar defenseman as a sophomore on a dominant East powerhouse, Beaulieu was an outstanding junior defenseman last season. As a senior co-captain, the safest bet is that Beaulieu and his parents will never be among those who want more ice-time.
“In all the years I’ve coached against Mike’s teams, I can every remember East playing anyone as much as Mike played 25 against us tonight,” said Esse.
Indeed, East is awaiting the return of forward Jack Kolar from an injury, but without question, the Greyhounds talent is not as abundant as at any time in the last decade. Randolph plays the forceful Beaulieu at center, then moves him back to the point on power plays, and if things are appearing shaky in the East zone, he’ll move Beaulieu back to defense between his shifts at center. “I told Philip to be ready, because he’s going to play a lot,” said Randolph.
It’s not as though East is out of players, but the personality of this team is that it will have to be a hard-working, hustling team that will not be able to rely on the usually potent scoring finesse of recent Greyhound teams. That was the message Randolph delivered to his troops after the loss to Centennial; they were not ready to fly from the opening faceoff, and it showed.
Ryner Gorowsky scored for Centennial at 0:24 of the first period, and scored again at 13:58. Two minutes later, Michael Pierson scored shorthanded when Beaulieu was sent cartwheeling in an airborne somersault that separated him from the puck as he tried to race out from behind his own net with the puck. That 3-0 deficit got East’s attention, and the Greyhounds didn’t allow anything else the rest of the way.

MEANWHILE, ON THE HILL

Randolph was among those invited to attend a special throwback event to honor the Duluth Cathedral teams of the 1960s and ‘70s, coached by Del Genereau to five private-independent state titles. Former Cathedral standouts such as Kevin Hoene, Tom Paul, and  Tom Cartier were among those who were treated to a reception before Saturday afternoon’s Marshall game against International Falls, and were introduced on the ice before the game at Mars-Lakeview Arena.
The Hilltoppers are, once again, a Class A power in Section 7A. International Falls, in the meantime, is trying to hold its program together in the face of dwindling enrollment. Falls head coach Ross Johnson said the Broncos had 18 players out for hockey in International Falls, and the lack of depth was evident against the balanced power of the Hilltoppers.
Marshall won the game 5-1, outshooting the Broncos 65-10 in the process. Peter Lenz scored in the first period, Lane Krenzen, Jack Dodd, and Derek Farrell scored in the second, while Jordan Tilander got one for Falls. Luke Pavelich scored in the third period.
Late in the third period, Falls was given two penalties, but before the Hilltoppers could unleash their flashy power play again, Marshall filled the other penalty box, as Pavelich and Dodd were both penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct -- requiring a minor and misconduct. That negated the two-man power play with four minutes remaining. The referees said the two Hilltoppers had exchanged a few expletives in taunting and demeaning the International Falls team and selected players.
It might be appropriate for Marshall coach Brendan Flaherty to get his hands on some video clips of those Del Genereau Cathedral teams he was honoring. Those teams were overpowering, but no matter how much Cathedral won by in those days, they always were classy and left the dignity intact for every opponent.