ESPN Radio 560 WEBC Providing Coverage of Boys Hockey Section Playoffs as Multiple Twin Ports Area Teams Make a Run for the State Tournament
Five Duluth area teams remain in the race for a Minnesota Boys Hockey Tournament bid, including Hermantown, Duluth Denfeld, Cloquet-Esko-Carlton, Duluth Marshall, and Duluth East. All five of these teams will be in action Saturday, and ESPN 560 WEBC will have coverage of some of the action.
Both of the Section 7AA playoff games will be carried live from Amsoil Arena on ESPN 560 WEBC AM and on our website (listen here). The first game of the doubleheader will feature two Twin Ports area teams with section ranked #1 Duluth East Greyhounds taking on the #4 ranked Cloquet-Esko-Carlton Lumberjacks at noon.
Game 1 - #1 Duluth East vs. #4 Cloquet-Esko-Carlton
12:00 pm - Amsoil Arena
The Greyhounds earned their #1 section seeding with a 21-4 season record powered by offensive production from team leaders Jack Forbort, Alex Toscano, Ryan Lundgren, and Miers Moore. In East's first game of this year's section playoffs, the Greyhounds skated to a 15-0 victory over St. Michael-Albertville. Goaltender Matt Borgen protected the shutout for East, while Ryan Lundgren led the team with 4 goals. The Greyhounds are looking forward to their fifth straight state tournament appearance this season.
The Lumberjacks, with a 15-8-2 regular season record, advanced over Forest Lake in a 6-2 win on Tuesday. CEC looks to rely on on the offensive power of the Michaud duo of Westin and Beau, and Karson Kuhlman to earn their first trip to state since 2008.
The winner of the Duluth East-CEC game goes on to play the winner of game 2 of the Section 7AA tournament on Thursday, February 28 at Amsoil Arena.
Game 2 - #2 Grand Rapids vs. #3 Elk River
2:00 pm - Amsoil Arena
The second game of the doubleheader features the section ranked #3 Elk River Elks taking on the #2 Grand Rapids Thunderhawks. Grand Rapids enters the game at 18-4-3 after a section quarterfinal battle, winning 6-2 over St. Francis. The last time the Thunderhawks made an appearance at the state tournament was in 2007.
Other Twin Ports Teams Contending for a State Tournament Appearance
In the Section 5A semifinals, the #1 Hermantown Hawks welcome the #4 Rogers Royals to Hermantown Arena on Saturday, with the puck dropping at 7 pm. The Hawks steamed past the Proctor Rails in a 10-0 section quarterfinal victory on Thursday. The Hawks will face the winner of the Princeton-St. Cloud Cathedral game happening in St. Cloud.
Hermantown advancing into the state tournament this year would make it the team's fourth straight appearance on the big stage. The Hawks made it to the Class A Championship in each of their last three tournament appearances. Hopes are high that they can break the chain of heartbreaks after a 2-1 loss to Breck in 2010 and a pair of losses to St. Thomas Academy falling 5-4 in 2011 and last year losing to the Cadets 5-1.
Two Twin Ports teams are still contending in Section 7A. The #1 Duluth Denfeld Hunters take on #5 International Falls in Hibbing at 1 pm Saturday. The #2 Duluth Marshall Hilltoppers are also in action on the range, taking on #3 Hibbing in Grand Rapids at 7:30 pm Saturday.
Denfeld's run into the section playoffs brings them closer to their first state tournament appearance since 1989. The team has struggled for playoff success for many years, but fans of the Hunters look at games like the 5-4 win over Duluth East in January breaking a series losing streak between East and Denfeld as a good omen for the team and the season. A win over International Falls on Saturday could bring a crosstown section championship into play, as Duluth Marshall and Hibbing will battle for a chance to play the winner of this game.
Unlike Denfeld, the Duluth Marshall squad aren't strangers to the state tournament in recent years. The Hilltoppers made appearances in 2008 and 2012, most recently falling to Little Falls in the Class A consolation round last year after a first round shutout loss to Breck. They take on Hibbing in Grand Rapids at 7:30 pm on Saturday. If both Marshall and Denfeld win, fans can look forward to the crosstown battle on the ice at Amsoil Arena Wednesday night, February 27 at 7:30.