High school boy’s hockey whispers:
No. 3-2A Duluth East (6-0-2) plays host to Blaine at 3 p.m. Saturday at Essentia Duluth Heritage Center. It’s a must-attend matchup between two of the state’s premier Class 2A programs.
Last week, the Greyhounds defeated Centennial 5-3, Duluth Marshall 3-2 and Lakeville North 6-5, all at Essentia.
The Greyhounds visit No. 2-2A Minnetonka on Jan. 5.
Senior super-sniper Garret Worth, who had three goals and a legendary assist against Lakeville North, is tied for the team scoring lead with 17 points, including a team-high 11 goals.
Junior forward Ryder Donovan (North Dakota commit) also has 17 points (two goals).
Senior forward Ian Mageau has quietly amassed seven goals and 15 points, and senior defenseman Luke LaMaster (Wisconsin commit) has 11 points (three goals).
Worth, Donovan and Mageau play on the top line, and LaMaster is a top-two defender who plays on the power play and quarterbacks the penalty kill.
Senior forward Austin Jouppi is averaging a point per game.
Junior Ricky Lyle, a Popeye-strong 200-foot power forward, has contributed seven points (two goals) and is a positively infectious physical spark up front.
Senior Will Fisher and junior Frederick Hunter Paine are highly-responsible, acutely-physical defensive defensemen.
Sophomore forward Logan Anderson scored the overtime game-winner against Duluth Marshall.
Senior power-forward Nick Lanigan has a goal and two points after missing the first four games due to a lower-body injury.
Junior forward Brendan Baker contributed goals against Lakeville North, Cloquet-Esko-Carlton and Andover.
Arguably, senior forward Porter Haney is the team’s most-improved player. He has two goals and five points, and continues to be quick and effective on the forecheck.
Carson Cochran, Zack Fitzgerald, 6-foot-6 Jonathon Jones and David Holiday are top-12 junior forwards.
The Greyhounds continue to alternate goaltenders Parker Kleive, a senior, and Lukan Hanson, a junior. Kleive has the better stats: (2.25 goals-against, .893 saves percentage). Hanson: 3.44, .847. Both are 3-0-1.
Prediction: East will finish the regular season 18-3-4 and earn the top seed for the Section 7AA tournament, which it win. The Greyhounds will advance to the 2A state semifinals, when it’s a pick-‘em. East must iron out its goaltending concerns, and keeping Worth, LeMaster and Mageau healthy is key.
A solid bet: Look for tourney-tested Hawks to be strong down the stretch
Two-time defending 1A state champion Hermantown is another team to watch.
The Hawks (2-3-2) face Roseville today in Duluth, after pasting Thief River Falls 5-0 last Friday at Hermantown Arena.
Mega-elite sophomore forward Blake Biondi is averaging a goal and two points a game. The Bulldogs recruit has elite offensive skills and continues to bolster a well-deserved reputation as one of the state’s best sophomores.
Senior forward Tyler Watkins has three goals and is tied for the team scoring lead with Biondi at 14 points.
The Hawks have scored 28 goals, with senior forward Jacob Herter and Biondi leading the scoring parade with seven goals apiece.
Tenacious senior forward Brandon Schmidt has contributed a pair of key goals, and elite junior forwards Brady Baker and Justin Thomas.
Juniors Darian Gotz, Elliott Peterson and Sam High are top-three defensemen.
Junior Cole Manahan has stepped up as the Hawks’ top goaltender, while allowing only a pair of goals in his last two starts.
Prediction: The Hawks will carry a 14-8-3 record into the Section 7A playoffs, where they will edge Greenway in the championship game.
Langenbrunner-led Jacks off to strong start
Cloquet-Esko-Carlton is 7-3-1 heading into today’s holiday tournament opener against Wayzata (Final: Wayzata 5, CEC 1) in Duluth.
The Jacks have won three straight, including an impressive 3-2 victory at Moorhead last Friday.
Junior forward Landon Langenbrunner, an unsigned college prospect, has a team-high 11 goals and 20 points.
Gavin Rasmussen, another dynamo junior forward, is second in team scoring with 14 points, with seven goals.
Kade Bender, yet another junior super-sniper, has eight goals.
Six-foot-4 junior defenseman Dane Stoyanoff, who is averaging more than a point a game, is a rising college prospect.
Prediction: The Jacks will carry a well-earned swagger into the 7AA playoffs, following an impressive 16-6-3 regular season finish.
Holiday Boys Hockey Tournament Schedules/Results
Wayzata defeated Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 5-1
Hermantown defeated Roseville 4-0
Brainerd defeated Bemidji 6-1
Anoka vs. Duluth Marshall, 8 p.m.
Wayzata vs. Hermantown, 5:45 p.m.
Brainerd vs. Duluth Marshall
Wayzata or Hermantown vs. Brainerd or Duluth Marshall
Apple Valley defeated Mankato West 6-2
Mound Westonka vs. Owatonna, 3 p.m.
Park (Cottage Grove) vs. Sheybogan (WI), 5:30 p.m.
North St. Paul vs. Duluth Denfeld, 8 p.m.
MINNESOTA HIGH SCHOOL BOYS HOCKEY RANKINGS
December 26 Poll by Let’s Play Hockey
3. St. Thomas Academy
4. Duluth East
6. White Bear Lake
7. Holy Family
9. Cretin-Derham Hall
4. East Grand Forks
6. St. Cloud Cathedral
8. Sartell-St. Stephen
9. Mound Westonka