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Grand Rapids Hockey vs Duluth East-Jan 2017-East Wins 5 to 0

Grand Rapids Hockey vs Duluth East-Jan 2017-East Wins 5 to 0. To hear Mike Randolph tell it, maybe, just maybe — with a little bit of luck and a few breaks — his Duluth East hockey team can sneak into Section 7AA contention. This from a guy whose Greyhounds are in the driver's seat for a top-two seed come February thanks to Thursday's statement-sending 5-0 dousing of fourth-ranked Grand Rapids at Heritage Center. As Randolph spoke following his 587th career victory, you could almost sense the chip on his shoulder. The "underrated" card was due for an appearance. "You know what? Nobody's been talking about Duluth East," he said. "Everyone's been talking about Elk River and Grand Rapids. And that's fine; we like it that way. But I think we're going to be in the conversation." He's not alone, not after Thursday. East (8-4-1) entered the night with its leading scorer — Ian Mageau — sitting humbly at 13 points. The Thunderhawks (10-4-1), meanwhile, came in with a buzz-worthy top line that had piled up 100 points, led By Micah Miller's 38. The Greyhounds departed rejuvenated with their most complete performance of the season, and against a rival that stopped their string of section titles at seven a year ago in a stirring championship tilt at Amsoil Arena. East is hitting its stride. What a difference a week makes. Last Saturday, the Greyhounds were embarrassed by Minnetonka, which picked them apart in a 6-0 eyebrow-raiser. But Thursday, East, finally with a full lineup at its disposal, hardly resembled the same team. "That game was a different story," said junior defenseman Luke LaMaster, who returned from a four-game injury absence to help the Greyhounds bottle up Grand Rapids' big guns. "Didn't have all the guys going, but tonight everybody was out there working their butts off." No. 13 East took control in the second period. Garrett Worth, who started the scoring in the first, drilled the post, and the puck caromed to Hunter Paine in the left faceoff circle. Paine uncorked a rocket past Thunderhawks goalie Gabe Holum that ignited the Greyhounds' student section. So raucous was the ensuing celebration that Worth nearly lost his helmet while punching the air. "It got the whole team fired up, and after that I thought we started winning the game," the sophomore Paine said. Less than two minutes later, Ricky Lyle pushed it to 3-0. East, constantly on the attack, amassed a 22-7 advantage in shots on goal in the one-sided second period, a physical frame with bodies often littering the ice two and three at a time. Heritage was buzzing. The Greyhounds tacked on two more in the third, including Ryder Donovan's pretty one-timer in front that ushered in an "overrated" chorus from the East students. It was more than enough offense for Kirk Meierhoff, who turned away all 22 shots he faced. For a team that has struggled to produce consistent offense, the outburst was a welcome development. But it was more than the five goals; East's defensemen, so active with their sticks, tied up the puck every time Grand Rapids carried it across the blue line. They were quick to get a body on an orange jersey, chip the puck loose and reverse it the other way. Limiting the high-powered Thunderhawks to just 22 shots — none of them successful — is no small task. "That's a good night for us defensively," LaMaster said. LaMaster said that as the game wore on, he noticed Grand Rapids getting frustrated. Typically so potent, the Thunderhawks had little room to get going. They're now 1-3-1 over their past five games, including Tuesday's 4-3 defeat at Hermantown. Thursday, Grand Rapids was playing without two of its top defenders in Michael Heitkamp and Drake Anderson, who received game misconducts after the loss to the Hawks. The Thunderhawks' depth took a hit against East. The road ahead doesn't get any easier for the Greyhounds, who welcome Casey Mittelstadt and No. 8 Eden Prairie to town on Saturday. "I love this week," Randolph said. "We play Minnetonka, Grand Rapids and Eden Prairie. Great stretch for us to find out where we're at and what we need to work on." And if they might be able to finagle their way into the postseason picture. Grand Rapids 0-0-0—0 Duluth East 1-2-2—5 First period — 1. Garrett Worth (Luke LaMaster), 10:17. Second period — 2. Hunter Paine (Worth, Ian Mageau), 13:48 (pp); 3. Ricky Lyle (Logan Anderson, Nick Lanigan), 15:25. Third period — 4. Ryder Donovan (Mageau), 1:43; 5. Lanigan (Anderson, Lyle), 12:50 (pp). Saves — Kirk Meierhoff, DE, 22; Gabe Holum, GR, 33. Article from-- Duluth News Tribune

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