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East dominates Denfeld in boys hockey sectional quarterfinal – Duluth News Tribune

East dominates Denfeld in boys hockey sectional quarterfinal – Duluth News Tribune


DULUTH It had been more than 35 years since Duluth East and Duluth Denfeld met in the postseason and even longer since the Greyhounds had a victory.

That's exactly what they did Tuesday, leaving no doubt about a 5-1 victory in the Section 7AA quarterfinals Tuesday at the Essentia Duluth Heritage Center before a crowd of 1,489 single guests, according to Heritage Director Jeff Stark Center.

Greyhound senior Thomas Gunderson scored two goals and had three assists to lead East to a playoff victory and a semifinal against Andover Saturday afternoon at Amsoil Arena.

Gunderson put the Greyhounds ahead early with a goal 3:22 into the game, but it was his second three-point period that made the difference. Gunderson scored his second goal of the game 3:26 into the second period, and just 25 seconds later he set up Wyatt Peterson to make it 4-0 for the second time in the game.

It's the playoffs and everyone is really excited for the game, Gunderson said. To score those first few goals, they were hugely important for us to settle down and play the rest of the game.

Player controls player.

Duluth Denfeld's Cory Backstrom (24) beats Duluth East's Noah Teng (4) to the ice in the first period of the playoff game Tuesday night at the Essentia Duluth Heritage Center.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Later in the second, he got an assist on Luke Anderson's goal to put East up five and put the game out of reach.

He looked like he was a man on a mission, Greyhounds coach Steve Pitoscia said. He has 98 career points and you can see why he really took over the game of hockey today. We saw a lot of that last year at Cole Christian and to see Gundy do what he did today was pretty impressive to me.

Denfeld's Jake Feiro spoiled East goalie Kole Kronstedt's shutout bid with a goal early in the third period.

Despite trailing by two goals after the first period, the Hunters felt good about their position after the first period.

Very rarely do we get the first goal, so we were used to this position, said Denfeld coach Dale Jago. We came out in the second period, we stopped moving our feet, stopped taking the body and stopped getting pucks behind their defensemen and their defensemen had way too much space to play.

The player moves the puck on the ice.

Duluth Denfeld's John Scott (18) passes the puck down the ice past Duluth East's Thomas Gunderson (15) in the first period of the playoff game at the Essentia Duluth Heritage Center on Tuesday night.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Pitoscia said that after Monday's practice, he didn't have a pregame skate scheduled for Tuesday morning, but because Duluth schools were on break this week, he got texts asking for that morning skate.

“I had a really good feeling once they wanted to do that,” Pitoscia said. Then we came here this morning and the skate was just chilly and the guys were making pucks. It was like there was a switch that turned on them. So I was very proud of how they performed.

The last time the Greyhounds and Hunters played in the postseason was 1988 and it was Denfeld with a dominant hockey team. Pitoscia remembered his grandfather taking him to the game at DECC Arena.

Goalkeeper looks at rebound.

Duluth East goalie Kole Kronstedt (39) sees the puck bounce off his path after a shot by Duluth Denfeld's John Scott (18) in the first period of the playoff game at the Essentia Duluth Heritage Center on Tuesday night.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

It was the Hunters who hosted the last two postseason meetings, advancing all the way to the state tournament each year. In fact, the Hunters qualified for the state tournament in three of the four seasons, finishing third in 1986 and 1989, the last time they made the trip to St. Paul.

While East soared to new heights under coach Mike Randolph in the 1990s, winning two state titles, Denfeld could not match the success of the late 1980s and eventually moved to Class A, meaning no postseason matchups with Class AA East.

That all changed last season when the Hunters, along with Rock Ridge, made the decision to move up to Class AA.

A potential postseason matchup with the Greyhounds definitely played a role in Denfeld's decision, Denfeld coach Dale Jago said, but it wasn't something they expected in their first season in Class AA in more than a quarter century.

The match didn't quite go the way the Hunters envisioned it, but they ended up suffering a number of devastating injuries, including an arm injury to top scorer John Scott, which cost him most of the final six weeks of competition. season.

Additionally, regular matchups between Duluth's two public schools are something that can help grow the game, Jago said.

This was exactly the reason we moved to Class AA, Jago said. These kids from Denfeld and Duluth East did more for hockey in this game and our regular season game than USA Hockey and the MSHSL have done for Duluth hockey in 20 years. This is what Duluth hockey should be doing. I saw little kids jumping around during warm-ups and after the national anthem. That's what it's all about: the next generation of players coming up and wanting to be part of this.

The Greyhounds advance to face Andover at Amsoil Arena on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Huskies topped the East 3-1 earlier this season in Andover, but Pitoscia still believes anyone can win Section 7AA.

Team celebrates goal.

The Duluth East Greyhounds celebrate a first-period goal by Wyatt Peterson (11) for their student section during their playoff victory over Duluth Denfeld at the Essentia Duluth Heritage Center on Tuesday night.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

To be honest, we didn't look ahead at all, this was a big game, Pitoscia said. Fire it up tonight, watch the video and start splitting up packs to show these guys for the rest of the week.

After helping the Greyhounds to a victory, Kronstedt was greeted outside the locker room by some of the youngest East fans. Kronstedt stopped 30 of 31 shots Tuesday and asked the kids something everyone wants to hear after their favorite team wins a playoff game.

Well, see you Saturday, right? Kronstedt said.

First period 1. DE, Thomas Gunderson (Wyatt Peterson, Noah Teng) 3:22; 2. DE, Peterson (Gunderson, Teng), 9:57.

Second period 3. DE, Gunderson (Luke Anderson), 3:26; 4. DE, Peterson (Teng, Gunderson), 4:01; 5. DE, Anderson (Gunderson), 14:29.

Third period 6. DD, Jake Feiro (Valtteri Luhtalampi), 4:37;

Saves Connor Doyle, DD, 32; Kole Kronstedt, DE, 30.




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