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Hunters chart a new course

Cloquet, the odds-on favorite to capture the 2000-2001 Lake Superior Conference title, had already buried Duluth Denfeld with three unanswered goals, and there were only about two minutes left in the teams' Tuesday night jamboree game. If ever th...

Cloquet, the odds-on favorite to capture the 2000-2001 Lake Superior Conference title, had already buried Duluth Denfeld with three unanswered goals, and there were only about two minutes left in the teams' Tuesday night jamboree game. If ever there was a time for a team to give up, it would have been then.
But the Hunters would not quit. Senior forward Paul Conito swatted a goal in to ruin the Lumberjacks' shutout.
Although Cloquet did eventually win the game 5-1, on goals from Dan Lindquist, Joe Carlson, Travis Fast, Matt Maunu and Sam Homan, the Hunters issued fair warning that they won't go away easily this season, which pleased their first-year head coach Jason Cane.
"Cloquet capitalized on the mistakes that we made," he said. "But the effort was there, and that was what I liked to see."
That effort shouldn't be in short supply this season for the Hunters, who will send a mostly younger group of players into battle against the rest of the LSC.
Leading Denfeld's core of nine juniors will be five veteran seniors including Conito, Jeremy Carter, Erik Modeen, Jared Shelerud and Jim Rodberg.
"They'll provide some leadership," said Cane. "Our seniors are all great athletes."
And, as they proved on Tuesday, they're all great athletes with a ton of heart. Add those two ingredients together, and you've got a recipie for some upsets.
Marshall found that out first hand last January, when Conito and Rodberg combined for 6 points in a 6-3 Denfeld upset over the Hilltoppers.
One major difference, though, is that the Hunters also had then-senior Scott Spehar in their lineup against Marshall. He scored a pair of goals, and assisted on a two others.
Now, with Spehar graduated, the Hunters will have to look elsewhere for those points. One player to watch who may help fill that role is junior Derek Menz, who also made an impact against the Hilltoppers last season. It was Menz that scored the eventual game-winning goal shorthanded in that January upset.
Another key contributor to that Hunters' victory last season was goaltender Ben Dille. He graduated also, which means that Denfeld will be looking for a new man between the pipes. Junior Jeremy Allen and sophomore Jake Blake will vie for that role.
"It's going to come down to us coming to play every night," said Cane. "And keeping the guys we've got together."
That task will fall on the shoulders of the team's leaders, who drove the point home following their loss against Cloquet.

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