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Prep boys hockey: Smalley rescinds resignation as CEC coach

Kevin Smalley, who on July 18 stepped down as Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys hockey coach after one season, has rescinded his resignation and hopes to remain with the Lumberjacks. News Tribune file photo

Kevin Smalley, who on July 18 stepped down as Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys hockey coach after one season, has rescinded his resignation and hopes to remain with the Lumberjacks.

The Cloquet school board will hold a special meeting Monday morning “to consider Mr. Smalley’s status” as coach, according to Cloquet superintendent Michael Cary.

If Smalley’s resignation is upheld — or if the school board reinstates him but then refuses to renew his contract for 2018-19 — the Lumberjacks will be playing for their third coach in as many years.

Smalley, who replaced Dave Esse, took the CEC job after coaching his alma mater, Duluth Denfeld, from 2004 through 2017, and guided the Lumberjacks to a 17-8-1 record. They fell to Duluth Marshall in the quarterfinals of the Section 7AA playoffs.

At the time of his resignation, Smalley cited increasing work responsibilities at Sinnott Blacktop, including more travel, as his reason for stepping down. Less than two weeks prior, the 56-year-old was booked into the St. Louis County Jail on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Smalley was released and no formal charges have been filed in the matter, which remains under investigation.

Reached by phone Thursday, Smalley declined comment.

Whoever coaches the Lumberjacks next winter will oversee a talented club. The roster was heavy on dynamic juniors a year ago, including standouts Landon Langenbrunner, Gavin Rasmussen and Dane Stoyanoff. Those three were invited to participate in the fall Elite League last month, as were Mason Langenbrunner, Kade Bender and Aaron Moore, giving CEC six Elite Leaguers.

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