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Lumberjacks alumni undefeated against East

Members of the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton alumni team rest between periods of Saturday night's second annual CEC vs Duluth East alumni game, held in conjunction with Santa's Home for the Holidays celebration Thursday through Saturday in Cloquet. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal1 / 4
Mitch Ryan, a 2005 Cloquet graduate, wrestles away from a Duluth East player during the second period of the alumni game Saturday night. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal2 / 4
Stu Plante, a 1985 Cloquet graduate, shares a word with Duluth East's 1999 alumnus Nick Angell. The rival teams played in an alumni game with a mix of graduates from 1985 to 2015. The good-natured game ended in a 9-2 CEC win. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal3 / 4
CEC alumni goaltender Reid Ellingson keeps an eye on the puck as a teammate sweeps it away. The Lumberjacks and Duluth East Greyhounds met Saturday night for a rematch of last year's successful alumni game during Santa's Home for the Holidays. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal4 / 4

The second annual alumni hockey game, featuring Cloquet-Esko-Carlton against Duluth East, played at Northwoods Credit Union Arena Saturday night was for much more than bragging rights and a traveling trophy. It was about heart and guts. Just asked CEC netminder Reid Ellingson or East forward Nick Angell.

"Reid made us nervous. About mid-way through the second period he went down with a dislocated shoulder and, after laying on the ice for a little bit, he felt the dislocation reduce and was able to get back in the game," said Jeff Leno, coach and coordinator for the event. "I went into the East locker room in the first period because Nick Serre took a puck to the face. When I got in there, there was blood all over the place and it appeared that he broke his nose. If this were a men's league game, he probably would have been done for the night. In this situation, he packed gauze up his nostrils, grabbed a bag of ice and went back out to the bench. Nobody takes a Cloquet-East game lightly."

Beyond the raw tenacity the Lumberjacks displayed a bit more stamina and in the end came away with a 9-3 win in a game that was tied 2-2 after one period.

"It was great to watch and both teams took it serious," Leno said. "The play is at a higher level than most people anticipate. Most of the guys have experience beyond high school so the level of play is higher than what a lot of fans remember."

CEC players Tyler Johnson, Travis Denzel and David Brown all scored two goals and Reese Carlson added a pair of goals for East.

Leno singled out both Tyler Johnson of CEC and Nick Angell of Duluth as having stood out. He also said that CEC 1985 graduate Stu Plante, the oldest player on either team, was exceptional.

"There are plenty of highly skilled guys from each team, but I would say that Tyler Johnson from Cloquet and Nick Angell from Duluth East stood out from the crowd, Leno said. "On top of that, I have to give a shout out to Stu Plante, that guy still plays at a very high level, and not just for a 50-year-old. He is still running up and down that rink like he's 23 years old."

Overall 35 players from both schools participated and Leno expects to continue the tradition, which is held in conjunction with the Santa's Home for the Holidays Celebration each year in Cloquet.

"All I can say is thank you to all of the players, fans and organizers of the game," Leno said. "It's an absolute blast and we look forward to having this game on an annual basis. Next year we'll be building a campaign to fill the rink with East and Cloquet fans by doing more promotional activities before and during the game. We hope everyone can join us!"

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