CEC boys hold Blue Devils scorelessThe ’Jacks used a high-powered first line, good depth and stout goaltending to defeat Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl 3-0 to get the season off to a good start.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
There was a lot to smile about during Tuesday night’s Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys hockey opener at Northwoods Credit Union Arena.
The ’Jacks used a high-powered first line, good depth and stout goaltending to defeat Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl 3-0 to get the season off to a good start.
“I thought we worked really hard,” Coach Dave Esse said. “We controlled play most of the game. We had a lot of chances to score from all three lines, but credit Virginia. They played well positionally and their goaltender [Andrew Sederlund] was very good.”
Junior Weston Michaud – one of three family members on this year’s varsity – scored all three goals in the contest. Fellow junior Justin Ketola stopped all 14 shots he faced to earn the shutout.
Michaud’s first goal came with 20 seconds to play in the first period and came after Ketola had made a key save on a Blue Devils power play. Despite being outshot 39-14 in the game, the Blue Devils received all three power plays awarded by the officials.
The second period was scoreless but Michaud scored the clinching goal with 1:32 to play in the contest and then hit an empty net 30 seconds later to ice the game.
Linemates Beau Michaud and Karson Kuhlman assisted on Weston Michaud’s first two goals, with the third being unassisted.
“[Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl] closed down the lanes on us,” Esse said. “We need to get better at crashing the net and working on our transition play. We should have had five or six goals despite being shorthanded three times, but the bottom line is that we played well.”
The 2012-13 version of the Lumberjacks should be deeper than last season’s, with eight seniors and three solid lines. After the first line of Michaud, Michaud and Kuhlman, sophomore Kyle Klatt centers sophomore Dylan Michaud and junior James Newgren on the second line, and freshman Koby Bender centers seniors Nate Niemi and Kaleb Kadelbach on the third.
The team also boasts four senior defensemen. Drew Dincau, Jared Shevich, Sean Kedrowski and Tanner Robideaux are expected to carry the load on the blue line, though Esse skated six defensemen at times on Tuesday night.
“There’s no substitute for that experience,” Esse said. “Nothing can compare to that. We have lots of experience coming back and that’s important with the level of competition we’ll have in our section.”
Esse also stresses that teaching and patience will be key.
“Against that first line, a lot of teams are going to play defense,” he said. “They’ll make us work on the outside and pack the middle. We have to have our forwards moving so our defensemen get lanes to get them the puck.”
“I’m excited for the season,” Esse added. “We have lots of people who can skate and we really improved in our off-season. We are way stronger physically than we were last year and that will help.”
The ’Jacks are off until Saturday when they will play Bloomington Jefferson at the Bloomington Ice Gardens. The team then plays at Proctor in its Lake Superior Conference opener Tuesday, Dec. 4, before returning home to play South St. Paul Dec. 6.