By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
Duluth East proved why they are a perennial Class AA boys’ hockey power, in a 15-0 pounding of St. Michael-Albertville in the Section 7AA quarterfinals on Feb. 19.
The Greyhounds top line combined for a total of 18 points. Ryan Lundgren – who had a hat trick in a 6-1 victory at STMA a week prior – finished with four goals and three assists. Jack Forbort had two goals and four assists and Alex Toscano had two goals and three assists.
“That may have been one of their best games they played all year,” said STMA head coach Jerr Johnson. “Their first line is good, but that night they had all lines going. Their depth showed up that night and I wouldn’t be surprised if you see them playing in the championship game in St. Paul.”
Lundgren scored just 2:21 into the first period and two minutes later, defenseman Meirs Moore made it 2-0. Nick Altmann, who later finished with three goals and an assist, gave the Hounds a 3-0 lead and the game was pretty much over, with the Knights trailing 5-0 after the first period.
“I think the first time we played them, we may have caught them off guard a bit,” said STMA senior David Anderson. “Coach told us to go up and have a good time. We were definitely thinking upset from the start. But they are pretty skilled with some solid players.”
Moore and defense partner Phil Beaulieu combined for 10 points of their own from the blue line. Moore had a goal and five assists and Beaulieu had a goal and three assists.
Lundgren completed the hat trick as part of a seven-goal outburst in the second period. The Knights trailed 12-0 after two periods.
Even with running time, Altmann completed his hat trick in the final period. Toscano and Beaulieu also scored in the final 17 minutes. Johnson said he was a tad surprised to see some of their core players still getting minutes in the closing stages of a lopsided score.
“If it was me, I would never run up the score on someone like that,” Johnson said. “It was surprising to see some of his top guys still on the ice. I wouldn’t do that, but there’s a reason why Mike Randolph has won 500 games over his career.”
The Knights finished the season 9-16-2 overall and finished third in the Mississippi 8 with a record of 4-4. Anderson led the Knights in scoring with 15 goals and 25 points. Senior Jon Gibbs finished with four goals and led the team with 19 assists. Senior Zac Borgen had six goals and 15 assists for 21 points. The three made up the Knights top line for most the season.
“My goal was to lead the team in both goals and points,” said Anderson, who plans on trying out for the Gustavus Adolphus hockey team next fall. “To do that was a huge success for me. I was pretty happy with how our first line played. I’ve played with Jon since we were younger and Zac is a solid player.”
The Knights lose a total of 12 seniors, including starting goaltender Matt Borgen, who started all but two games in net. He finished with eight wins and earned his first career shutout in a 6-0 win Jan. 8 at Waconia.
Aaron Michaelson, Daniel Lund, Tanner Starr, Tony Bork, Nate Fischbach, Mike Ryan, Cade Gamrath and Mitchel Schneider are the other seniors graduating. Both Gamrath and Schneider had their seasons cut short due to injuries.
“We’re going to miss the seniors,” Johnson said. “David really found his game for us when he started to play more physical. Gibbs had a good year. We’re really going to miss, Michaelson at defense. He came a long way for us in two years.
“But we have big expectations for us next year. Our youth team has had a lot of success and our defense should be our strong point with Spetz and juniors Matt Kisch and Cory Kackman back.”