Louie St. George
- Member for
- 3 years 9 months
PREP BOYS HOCKEY / CEC 6, DULUTH EAST 6, OT
Near the end of a once-in-a-lifetime experience in which Moose Lake junior Danny Lilya was on the U.S. Bank Stadium turf holding for Vikings kicker Kai Forbath, Minnesota long snapper Kevin McDermott dramatically set up the final field-goal attempt. “This one’s to win the game and go to the Super Bowl,” McDermott bellowed.
When it comes to college recruiting, North Woods boys basketball coach Will Kleppe knows the cards are stacked against small-school hopefuls. “The exposure is a little harder to come by,” Kleppe said. “You have to do something pretty incredible to get on their radar.” How ’bout ringing home a half-court buzzer-beater to win a state-tournament quarterfinal? Or scoring 62 points in about 25 minutes of work?
Last March, Esko limped into the Section 7AA boys basketball championship game and challenged Crosby-Ironton before running out of steam and missing its first state tournament since 2012. Now, with Mike Devney in his final season as Eskomos coach and one more winter with 7-foot-3 Adam Trapp controlling the paint, Esko will look to rectify that shortcoming.
CLOQUET — Goal after CEC goal, Kevin Smalley retained the same stoic, arms-crossed and slightly irritated look Thursday night at Northwoods Arena. The first-year Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys hockey coach was opposing his old school — the one he led for 13 seasons — for the first time. And, despite a methodical performance from the Lumberjacks that resulted in a 9-1 Lake Superior Conference win over Duluth Denfeld, Smalley didn't look comfortable until deep into the second period. It wasn't the scoreboard. It was the situation.
Watching Tim Pokornowski a year ago hinted at the Cloquet quarterback’s potential. The potency of his right arm was undeniable, and he could tuck it and run when the play broke down. But the then-junior was raw — not easily rattled, but susceptible to “happy feet.” Those disappeared this fall, replaced instead by “happy feats.”
Replacing a program pillar is never easy, especially when that player deftly quarterbacked the offense before moving on to the NCAA Division I level. That's precisely what Marissa Rossi was tasked with three years ago when she took over as setter of the Grand Rapids volleyball team, a position previously held by Sidney Mattson, who graduated as the Thunderhawks' all-time leader in set assists. "They were big shoes to fill," Rossi said. She managed.
The photo of a 3-year-old Blake Biondi wearing a Minnesota Duluth hockey jersey, his smile visible through the bars of an oversized Bauer helmet, ensured a tough sell for college hockey recruiters.
First-year Grand Rapids coach Chris Marinucci wasn’t kidding when, on the second day of practice earlier this month, he said, “We’ve already had some trying times.” Marinucci was referring to what he described as a cracked brace in the roof of the IRA Civic Center, which temporarily closed one sheet of ice and altered the Thunderhawks’ schedule.
To best understand why Mike Randolph is still coaching high school hockey 30 years after he started, consider that this is a man with few hobbies. “Some people like to sit in a deer stand. Some people, like my brother-in-law, he sits out in the boat for hours, and I go, ‘How the hell can you do that?’ And he says, ‘How the hell can you sit in an arena in the middle of summer?’ ” Randolph, 66, said.