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There were enough huge plays, questionable plays, and game-turning plays to fill most of a season, and it was only one game, albeit the “City Championship” hockey game between Duluth East and Marshall.
Consider that East, rolling with full momentum, outshot the Hilltoppers 16-4 in the first period and gained a 1-0 lead when Garrett Worth spun and scored from deep on the left side at 1:09. That 1-0 lead was part of a showdown between the teams’ prolific top lines, although Marshall’s George Grannis had two good chances on his first shift.
In the second period of the game, part of the Perkins Frenzy last Thursday at Essentia Heritage Center, East goalie Parker Kleive stopped Grannis, but junior Danny Klatt swept past to score on the rebound at 12:26 for a 1-1 tie. As the final minute ticked down to end the second period, Grannis carried across the blue line and cut loose with his missile-like wrist shot, catching the extreme left edge as the closk showed 0:00. Interesting. The officials said the goal beat the buzzer, but they didn’t face off, instead allowing the goal as the teams went to their dressing rooms, Marshall leading 2-1.
Midway through the third period, East attacked, and in the tangle of bodies, somebody from Marshall covered the puck in the crease, calling immediately for a penalty shot. East’s Austin Jouppi skated in and drilled his shot past Marshall goalie Cam Brandt at 9:17, and it was 2-2.
Both sides had great scoring chances at the end of the third period, and early in the overtime. Grannis, whose goal was his 19th of the season, had a shorthanded chance but was stopped, after East’s Ricky Lyle and Nick Lanigan went in 2-on-0 shorthanded late in the third.
After 2:18 of the sudden-death overtime, East got a chance in front, while Marshall’s skaters threw themselves in the way. Off to the right side stood Logan Anderson, a sophomore whose poise belied the fact that he had scored all of one goal for the season.
“The puck had been shot from the corner, and Jouppi was in front,” said Anderson. “I had set myself up at the back door. It seemed like there were eight or 10 guys in the crease, so I stayed wide.”
The puck squirted free, off to the right, and Anderson put it into the net for the game-winning goal of a thrilling 3-2 East victory, keeping the Greyhounds undefeated. East outshot Marshall 46-25, but that margin meant nothing when it was 2-2 and in overtime.
“I scored a goal in our first game, when we went ahead 3-0 at White Bear Lake,” said Anderson. “I’ve got two, now. This is the biggest one I’ve scored...in high school.”
Before breaking for Christmas, East had one more game, and it, too, was a keeper, continuing the incredible run the Greyhounds have made to reach 6-0-2 with an endless string of nail-biters. In this one, there would be no shot advantage for East. There would, however, be a 2-0 deficit after one period. Riley Portner completed a slick 2-on-1 rush for the first goal, at 10:01, and Spencer Schneider followed with a shorthanded goal at 12:46.
Lakeville North succeeded in pounding out a clear physical attack on the Greyhounds, but East got back in the game when Worth scored a power-play goal at 2:06. Lakeville North went back up 3-1, at 3:51, before East simply overran the visitors. Brendan Baker scored at 4:40, then Worth scored again at 5:22 to lift East to a 3-3 tie.
But Lakeville North was more than willing to trade offenive sorties with the Greyhounds, and regained a 4-3 lead at 7:18. Half a minute later, Porter Haney tied it 4-all, and barely a half minute after that, Worth made a dazzling rush, dropping the puck back into his skates, kicking it ahead, regaining possession as he darted around wide left, then cut in and lifted a high, short-side shot into the net.
This time, it seemed East had taken over, but just for good measure, Worth caught a pass on the left of the slot and fired a shot. It went in, giving Worth four goals for the game and three in the second period. But winger Ian Mageau had tipped Worth’s shot, so the goal went to Mageau for a 6-4 Greyhound lead.
Lakeville North had one chance left, and made the most of it, outshooting East 8-4 in the third period, and scoring a goal at 4:43, just as a power play expired. East held on, winning 6-5, although coach Mike Randolph had to use everything he had — both goaltenders, four lines, and all his defensemen. Possibly a good thing, too, because East’s big line came up with four of the six goals, and every one of them was required.
“That first line of theirs is really something,” said Lakeville North coach Jake Enebak, former Gopher star who has one son playing junior hockey at Penticton, British Columbia, and two others on this team.
The Greyhounds may not remember all the lessons afforded them during this amazing stretch, but since beating Andover soundly on December 9, they played a 6-6 tie at Cloquet, edged Centennial 5-3 with an open-net goal, slipped past Marshall in that 3-2 thriller in the Perkins Frenzy, and then escaped Lakeville North 6-5. Without question, the ‘Hounds are giving up too many goals. It’s just that their offense is scoring so many they don’t seem to have time for defense!
East’s improbable journey through an undefeated first half takes its next step Saturday at 3 p.m. at Heritage, against Blaine.