Prep boys hockey: Duluth Denfeld grabs first win over Duluth East in nine years
The Hunters scored three goals in an 82-second stretch in the third period to secure the win.
DULUTH — The Duluth Denfeld faithful crowded into the lobby of the Essentia Duluth Heritage Center Wednesday to greet the Hunters as they exited the locker rooms after their first win over Duluth East in more than nine years.
The Hunters beat their crosstown rivals 6-2, their first win since a 5-4 victory on Jan. 8, 2013.
Denfeld dominated play and outshot the Greyhounds 24-12 in the first two periods, but led just 3-1.
East came out for the third period determined to close the gap and matched their total for the game in the first 10 minutes of the period. Grady Downs scored a goal at the 3:11 mark to cut the lead to one, but the rest of the Greyhounds' flurry of shots were stopped by Hunter goalie Austin Wick.
“We had a bad 6 or 7 minutes in the third period where we just stopped moving our feet,” Denfeld coach Dale Jago said. “We carried the play, we had more chances, we had better chances. We won the penalty battle, we were disciplined. We had a bad 6 minutes, they got a goal on a young defenseman’s mistake, but then Cooper McClure came back and made a highlight-reel goal.”
McClure’s goal ignited a stretch where the Hunters scored three goals — two by McClure — to put the game out of reach.
Kaden Postal, who was 8 years old the last time Denfeld topped East, scored the Hunters’ second goal and had three assists on the night.
“We’ve been starting off really slow,” Postal said. “We’ve always been a third period team like it showed tonight, but I think the biggest thing to come out of tonight was we run off three pillars — respect, accountability and discipline. The discipline definitely showed tonight — we stayed out of the junk that happened at the end of that game and we came out on top — it’s an awesome feeling. To finally beat Duluth East is unreal.”
Downs’ goals were a highlight for the Greyhounds, but coach Steve Pitoscia was frustrated with his team’s lack of discipline.
“We weren’t ready to play, we only played well for about 10 minutes in the whole game,” Pitoscia said. “We were flat, we let them dictate play, we let them win the races — the puck was theirs all night tonight. We got outplayed, they kicked out backside in every aspect of the game.”
Simon Davidson scored the Hunters' first goal, but suffered a lower leg injury, according to Jago, in the second period when he was pushed into the boards by the Greyhounds’ Aiden Spenningsby.
Spenningsby received a 5-minute major cross-checking penalty as well as a 10-minute game misconduct.
With Makoto Sudoh already in the penalty box, the resulting two-man advantage led to an Andy Larson goal.
After the win, Jago reflected on how far the team has come since an ugly 13-0 loss to the Greyhounds five years ago.
“Our program has grown by leaps and bounds and it’s all due to our kids,” Jago said. “Our kids put in the work, they live by our pillars of discipline, accountability and respect. It’s all the kids — we can’t play the games for them.”
Duluth Denfeld (16-8) will host Duluth Marshall at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Duluth East (6-15-1) will play at Champlin Park at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Duluth East 1-0-1—2
Duluth Denfeld 1-2-3—6
First period — 1. DD, Simon Davidson, 7:28; 2. DE, Grady Downs, 12:07.
Second period — 3. DD, Kaden Postal (Nolan Udd, Cooper McClure), 2:16; 4. DD, Andy Larson (Postal, Cooper McClure), 9:00 (pp).
Third period — 5. DE, Downs (Nathan Teng, Noah Teng), 3:11; 6. DD, Cooper McClure (Connor McClure, Postal), 10:29; 7. DD, Larson (Connor McClure, Postal), 11:12; 8. DD, Cooper McClure (Whittaker Heart, John Bloomquist), 11:51.
Saves — Zander Ziemski, DE, 36 Austin Wick, DD, 23.