CEC is coming on strong in the home stretch

Cloquet-Esko-Carlton sophomore Eric Newman brought up thoughts of "Seinfeld" during Monday night's 1-1 boys hockey deadlock with Duluth East at Northwoods Credit Union Arena.

1507064+CEC BOYSHOCKEY0203c5 4C.jpg
Cloquet-Esko-Carlton goalie Eric Newman keeps his eye on a deflected shot during Monday's game against Duluth East. Steve Kuchera/

Cloquet-Esko-Carlton sophomore Eric Newman brought up thoughts of “Seinfeld” during Monday night’s 1-1 boys hockey deadlock with Duluth East at Northwoods Credit Union Arena.

The goaltender made 31 saves in a dazzling performance that must have had the frustrated Greyhounds screaming “Newman!” with each save.

“That’s the best game I’ve ever seen him play,” CEC Coach Dave Esse said. “Hockey goaltender might be the most important position in all of sports and he was just fantastic.”

CEC was outshot 32-19 for the night and, according to Esse, his team was not sharp at all in either of the first two periods. Esse took the team’s time out during the first period after a ragged sequence of play led to a pair of point-blank scoring opportunities for East - both handled by Newman.

“We had about a dozen passes in a row that we didn’t connect,” Esse said. “Simple stuff like D-to-D, D-to-wing, we couldn’t settle down. We were just awful.”


Still, CEC led 1-0 after the first period thanks to a power-play goal by defenseman Jack Kuhlman despite being outshot 9-3. The shot board looked even worse in the second period, with the Hounds outshooting CEC 12-4 and finally tying the score on a goal by Ian Mageau at 4:20.

But that was all Newman allowed, and the team rebounded in the third period and overtime to outshoot their visitors 12-11.

“On the positive side, we played our worst game for two periods and East didn’t beat us,” Esse said. “There’s something to take from that.”

The tie game did absolutely nothing to settle the muddled Section 7AA seeding picture. The ’Jacks (9-10-3) and Greyhounds (10-9-3) are neck-and-neck in the race for home ice with a pivotal game coming up Saturday night at St. Michael Albertville (16-4-0).

“I still think East is going to wind up second,” Esse said. “But when you get down to it, a win on Saturday could be what gets us home ice.”

First up, though, is a Thursday night matchup at Wessman Arena against Superior, which defeated CEC in overtime earlier this year.

“Overtime hasn’t exactly been kind to us,” Esse said. The ’Jacks are 1-2-3 in overtime this season with section losses to Forest Lake and Andover. “We’re better than we were last time we played Superior, though.”

Indeed they are. CEC finished a very tough stretch of recent schedule with a 3-1 win Jan. 27 at home against Duluth Marshall and a 3-3 tie two nights later against Class A’s top-ranked team, Hermantown. The Hawks embarrassed the ’Jacks 8-0 in the team’s first meeting of the year Dec. 2 in Hermantown.


Against the Hilltoppers, CEC rallied from a 1-0 deficit on a pair of power-play goals by Koby Bender and a third goal from Hunter Roberts, with Newman making 25 saves.

Against the Hawks, Bender’s power-play goal in the second period tied the game at 1-1 but the ’Jacks needed third-period goals from Dylan and Dalton Johnson to earn a share of the spoils. Newman made 21 saves in goal.

But when it comes to section seeding, Esse is bullish on his team.

“One of the things I hope the coaches look at (in seeding) is how the team is playing down the stretch,” he said. “You can’t look at who we have played in the last three weeks and how we have done and say we aren’t playing well. We are.”

A win in St. Michael on Saturday night would certainly help make their case.

Related Topics: HOCKEY
What To Read Next
The Wilderness still haven't solved Wisconsin in four attempts
The 28th induction ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, May 4.
Hermantown alum Beau Janzig had an assist on Hunter Bulger’s game-winning goal.
Cloquet High School grad Aidan Ripp was one of six student-athletes competing for Team USA in the Nordic Combined event at the 2023 FISU World University Games in Lake Placid, New York.