Hard work pays off for Lumberjaks in end-of-season run
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
CLOQUET, Minn. – After losing a number of talented seniors from last year’s state tournament team, head coach Dave Esse knew the young Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys hockey team would have their work cut out for them.
Although CEC finished the season with an uncharacteristic overall record of 6-19-2, the Lumberjacks’ hard work and determination led them to a pair of back-to-back wins at the end of the year and a trip the always-familiar Section 7AA semifinals.
It was in the semifinals that CEC lost to second-ranked Elk River 6-1 to close the door on their 2008-09 campaign. However, their two upset road wins over Grand Rapids in the quarterfinals and Forest Lake in their final game of the season were high achievements in and of themselves.
“You always want to be playing your best hockey at the end of the year, and that’s what we did,” said Esse. “The middle of the season was rough, but I was very proud of the team for how hard they played this year.”
The Lumberjacks finished the year with a fifth place 3-4 mark in the always-difficult Lake Superior Conference, and though they lacked finishing skills at times this season, Esse knows there is one thing his team definitely needs to work on for next season – strength.
“We just have to get stronger,” he said. “With the schedule that we play, you have to be strong or it’s going to be a long season.”
CEC will lose six seniors due to graduation, but with a number of young talented players lacing up their skates again next year – including sophomore forward and leading-scorer Jack McFarlane – one would be crazy to bet against the hard-working Lumberjacks.
Tags: winter sports wrap up