Prep boys hockey: Duluth East beats CEC in Section 7AA semifinalRyan Lundgren scored three power-play goals and was the hero of the Greyhounds’ 3-0 victory over Cloquet-Esko-Carlton in a Section 7AA high school boys hockey semifinal at Amsoil Arena.
By: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune
Duluth East’s power-play unit couldn’t have been any more dominating Saturday if Dolph Lundgren played on it.
Instead, Ryan Lundgren scored three power-play goals and was the hero of the Greyhounds’ 3-0 victory over Cloquet-Esko-Carlton in a Section 7AA high school boys hockey semifinal at Amsoil Arena.
Top-seeded East (23-4) also killed off all three CEC power plays, including a brief 5-on-3, to win its 15th consecutive game and advance to Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. championship game against Grand Rapids at Amsoil.
“Our special teams have been great as of late,” said Lundgren, who has a team-high 24 goals. “Our power play is clicking at like 40, 45 percent and our penalty-kill is at 92 percent. We play good team defense — I think we have the best four defensemen in the state.”
The quartet of Meirs Moore, Phil Beaulieu, Andrew Kerr and Alex Trapp clamped down on the Lumberjacks’ high-scoring trio of Westin and Beau Michaud and Karson Kuhlman (164 points among them), allowing only 15 shots on goal as goaltender Dylan Parker registered his third straight shutout.
“Shutting out a good offensive team like Cloquet, if you are a defenseman you know you did your job,” said Moore, who assisted on each of Lundgren’s goals to give him 47 points this season. “They are hard to play against, so we’re going to go a long way with that kind of performance.”
East created more scoring chances in a scoreless first period but didn’t get on the scoreboard until CEC committed the first penalty of the game early in the second period. Jack Forbort slid a pass to the slot for Lundgren, who one-timed the puck past Justin Ketola at the 4:27 mark.
“We’ve been practicing on Jack looking for that and for Ryan to find that soft spot, and they excecuted it to a ‘T’,” East coach Mike Randolph said.
The Lumberjacks were unable to equalize on a 5-on-3 advantage for 28 seconds later in the period and had their best scoring opportunity in the final 30 seconds when Parker foiled a 2-on-1 break with a pokecheck and then blocked Drew Dincau’s backhand follow-up.
Seconds later, the Lumberjacks were whistled for another penalty and Lundgren took advantage 28 seconds into the third period when he stuffed in the puck after retrieving it from the end boards.
“Once we get the lead and play good defense, I don’t think we can be beat,” said Lundgren, who has tendered to play with the Janesville (Wis.) Jets of the North American Hockey League but still hopes to be drafted by a United States Hockey League team this spring.
Lundgren scored the final goal as Moore found him creeping up in the slot with 2:55 to play.
“It came down to special teams,”Randolph said. “Our power play and penalty-kill (units) were very good, and when you win that battle at this time of year it usually ends up in victory.”
CEC coach Dave Esse said the Greyhounds deserved to win the game, their 11th in a row in the rivalry.
“It’s very disappointing,” Esse said. “Our No. 1 goal was to have discipline and stay out of the penalty box, and obviously we didn’t.
“They outskilled us, outhit us and played with a huge amount of poise and control. It starts with their defensemen, and I thought they controlled the play.”