January 6, 2015
Duluth News Tribune
Greyhounds prevail in role reversal
By Louis St. George III
Monday night's high school boys hockey game between city rivals Duluth Denfeld and Duluth East featured a bit of a role reversal, with the Hunters sporting the gaudy state ranking and the Greyhounds skating in place at.500.
The final result, though, was all-too familiar.
The Greyhounds overcame an early deficit via a dominant second period to down the Hunters 4-3 at a surprisingly full Heritage Center given the frostbite-inducing cold that swirled outside.
Coming off amuch-needed win at Hopkins, the Greyhounds (6-5-1 ) were unable to carry the momentum into Monday. Instead, it was Denfeld, with goals from Cam McClure and Cody Budisalovich, in front after the opening period.
East coach Mike Randolph didn't mince words at the first intermission, according to junior forward Ash Altmann.
"He was pretty disappointed in us, but we took it onto the ice and used it as motivation," Altmann said.
Randolph didn't like much of what we saw through the game's first 17 minutes.
"Very tentative. Our board play was terrible— we were losing all the battles," he said. "They were pinching down on us effectively and we couldn't get out clean. I just think we played with a little panic in our game, but we settled down in the second and I thought we started taking over the game there."
The Greyhounds looked like a different outfit in the second. Consistently attacking, they outshot Denfeld (9-5 ), ranked ninth in Class A, 17-5 in the period. Brian Bunten tied it and, two minutes later, Altmann put East in front 3-2.
Denfeld responded on Jonah Williams' power-play goal from the right circle with less than two minutes to go, and the game appeared destined for a 3-3 tie entering the third. But Ryan Peterson tipped Altmann's drive from the blue line past Denfeld goalie Wes Cook 29 seconds before the break.
Rather than being tied, the Hunters had to feel deflated heading to the locker room down a goal.
"Any time you give one up after you get a goal it certainly takes the momentum away, and in high school hockey momentum is pretty crucial," Denfeld coach Kevin Smalley said.
Forced to play from behind, the Hunters never got much going thanks to four third-period penalties. They expertly killed off all of East's man advantages, but they spent far too much time doing so. Alast-gasp effort - which included a 6-on-3 chance after a pair of Greyhound penalties in the final minute - gave Denfeld life, but it didn't yield the equalizer.
With about 12 seconds to play, Nick Thompson appeared to hit the crossbar. East's sophomore goalie, Kirk Meierhoff, withstood the pressure.
It was Meierhoff 's third straight start for a team that played musical chairs with the position in the season's first half.
"It's his net. He's earned it," Randolph said. "He's played very well in three games now. We'll ride him until he proves otherwise."
East, which has won two in arow after losing four of five, amassed a 36-20 edge in shots on goal. The road for the Greyhounds doesn't get any easier, with home games against Grand Rapids and Eden Prairie still to come this week.
For Denfeld, Monday did nothing to quell a promising campaign. Still, the Hunters weren't interested in moral victories.
"We don't look at it coming in thinking, 'Hey, let's just play with them.' We came out here to win," Smalley said. "Kids did what we needed them to do and we had our chances, it just didn't go our way tonight."