Duluth East stunned at state boys hockey tourneyJohn Wiitala, son of former Superior Spartan Marty Wiitala, scored the go-ahead goal 1:34 into the third period as unseeded Lakeville South defeated top-ranked Duluth East on Thursday in a Class AA quarterfinal at the Minnesota high school boys hockey state tournament.
By: By Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune , Superior Telegram
ST. PAUL — Lakeville South’s star forward Justin Kloos wasn’t in a giving mood Thursday night, even though it was Duluth East star Jake Randolph’s 18th birthday.
John Wiitala scored the go-ahead goal 1:34 into the third period, Kloos added an empty-netter in the final minute and goaltender Tyler Schumacher saved 25 shots in the unseeded Cougars’ 3-2 Class AA quarterfinal victory over the top-ranked Greyhounds in the Minnesota high school boys hockey state tournament at Xcel Energy Center.
Wiitala, whose father, Marty, played high school hockey at Superior and college hockey at Wisconsin, sneaked behind the defense after Justin Doerden stole the puck off the sideboards in East’s zone and beat goaltender Dylan Parker for his ninth goal of the season and a 2-1 advantage.
Kloos, who earlier assisted on Patrick Lauderdale’s goal for his 100th point of the season, chipped a backhand from along the boards past the stick of diving defenseman Meirs Moore for an empty-net goal with 40 seconds to play.
“This was better than I ever imagined,” said Kloos, the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s player of the year. “This is what you dream about on the pond when you picture yourself scoring and celebrating with your teammates. This is the main reason I chose to play high school hockey again.”
Lakeville South (21-8) advances to play either Edina or Benilde-St. Margaret’s in tonight’s late semifinal after Moorhead and Hill-Murray do battle. East’s loss meant the top three seeds all will play in the consolation round today. The Greyhounds (27-2) face either the Hornets or the Red Knights at noon at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis.
East (27-2) held a 27-22 advantage in shots on goal, but the Cougars had more quality chances and rung a couple of shots off the crossbar. East’s lack of scoring opportunities made coach Mike Randolph question which team he was watching on the ice.
“We played a really tough schedule against really good teams, but never had a team do what they did to us tonight. They were well prepared,” Randolph said. “It was an uncharacteristic game for us, and they had a lot to do with that.”
“It wasn’t our team. I kept looking out there saying, ‘Who are these guys?’” said Jake Randolph, the St. Paul Pioneer Press player of the year, who assisted on Trevor Olson’s goal 3:37 into the game. Olson hopped on a long rebound off a Randolph shot and beat Schumacher for his 10th goal of the season.
Dom Toninato, who turns 18 today, had a goal waved off in the first period for using a high stick on Nate Repensky’s slap shot from the point.
“(Losing) is one of the worst feelings, knowing the team that we have,” Toninato said. “We just didn’t get the job done. Hats off to Lakeville South, they bottled us up all night.”
The Cougars tied the game 8:36 into the second period. Kloos set up Patrick Lauderdale for the goal on a nice 1-2-3 passing combination with teammate Alex Harvey.
East pulled Parker for a second time and capitalized with an extra attacker as Olson scored for a second time with 10 seconds to play. But there was no miracle finish, only tears from seniors who hoped this would be their year after losing the state championship in triple overtime to Eden Prairie last season.
“These are two great kids who took this team on their backs and did a heck of a job,” coach Randolph said about his son and Toninato, who, like Kloos, are Mr. Hockey nominees. “I’ve never had two warriors like these two. I feel really bad for them. Two buddies, two friends, two kids who played together since they were mites. Two kids who wanted to do something special this year, but unfortunately Lakeville South had something to say about that.”
Lakeville South 0-1-2—3
Duluth East 1-0-1—2
First period — 1. DE, Trevor Olson (Jake Randolph, Dom Toninato), 3:37.
Second period — 2. LS, Patrick Lauderdale (Justin Kloos, Alex Harvey), 8:36.
Third period — 3. LS, John Wiitala (Justin Doerden), 1:34; 4. LS, Kloos, 16:20 (en); 5. DE, Olson (Randolph), 16:50.
Saves — Tyler Schumacher, LS, 25; Dylan Parker, DE, 19.