Hometown crowd goes electric in 4-2 victory over Duluth East
The energy at the Cloquet Area Recreation Center (CARC) on Thursday was enough to light the Las Vegas strip. Fans began arriving before 5 p.m. for the 7:30 game between Cloquet-Esko-Carlton and Duluth East. By 5:30, the parking lot at the CARC wa...
The energy at the Cloquet Area Recreation Center (CARC) on Thursday was enough to light the Las Vegas strip. Fans began arriving before 5 p.m. for the 7:30 game between Cloquet-Esko-Carlton and Duluth East. By 5:30, the parking lot at the CARC was filled and fans were being shuttled in from outlying areas on buses. By the end of the night, fans had been treated to another highly entertaining hockey game as the Jacks took a 4-2 win over the Greyhounds.
"I thought we came out a little bit too hyped up and spent a lot of energy early and that is probably from a lack of experience," said CEC boys coach Dave Esse. "Once we settled down, we actually played good position and our neutral ice play was better."
After a scoreless first period, the Greyhounds took a 1-0 lead on a scramble around CEC netminder Aaron Baker. It appeared as if East had scored, but the officials waved off the goal allowing play to continue. The puck eventually worked its way to the high slot where Jake Williams hammered home a shot that Baker never saw at 3:15.
"They are a very opportunistic team that usually likes to fly guys and catch teams in transition," Esse explained. "We back-checked hard and limited their line rushes."
CEC answered the East goal at 6:13 when Adam Boleman scored on a spinning move to the left of Greyhound goalie Neil Larson. It appeared as if Larson had stopped the shot, but the puck seemed to have eyes and found a way through the netminder for a 1-1 tie.
The Lumberjacks got their first lead of the game barely two minutes later at 8:18 when Justin Jokinen scored the first of his three goals. Jokinen took a feed from Matt Ellison and then danced across the crease while waiting for Larson to take himself out of position before finally ramming the puck home from about 10 feet out.
"Justin played like a Division I college player and showed why he is one of the best players in the state," remarked Esse. "I also thought Josh Ermatinger played a tough game for us by blocking shots and finishing checks."
Despite being outshot, the Jacks did a good job of pushing the Greyhounds to the outside most of the night, allowing Baker to make the save and then rely on his defense to clear the rebounds.
"We clogged the shooting lanes and most of their shots were from the top of the circles and blue line," stated Esse. "I thought we showed a lot of poise in the third period. We bent at times, but never broke."
At 8:33 of the third period, Jokinen picked up his second goal of the game after picking up a loose puck and slipping around the Greyhound defense to make it 3-1 for the Jacks, sending the hometown crowd into a worked up frenzy.
"The crowd was great," exclaimed Esse. "The student section led by Paul Cameron was crazy good!"
East showed their mettle at 4:44 with a goal by Rob Johnson to cut the lead to 3-2. East nearly tied the game on a two-on-one rush just minutes later but Baker was able to snuff a shot by Johnson from the right edge.
The Jacks then relied on Jokinen who pounced on a loose puck just inside the CEC blue line and then sniped an empty net goal at 16:35 with Austin Hatch picking up the assist, securing the Jacks victory.
"All of our defenders played well with David Brown and Austin Hatch leading them," Esse mentioned. "It was a good win for sectional seeding and it was a very entertaining high school game."