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Prep boys hockey: Rivals Duluth East, CEC tie 6-6

Ryder Donovan (22) of Duluth East and Kade Bender (5) of Cloquet-Esko-Carlton compete for the puck Thursday at Northwoods Arena in Cloquet. (Clint Austin / / 3
Cloquet-Esko-Carlton goaltender Owen Carlson (30) makes a save during Thursday's game against Duluth East at Northwoods Arena in Cloquet. (Clint Austin / / 3
Brendan Baker (37) of Duluth East scores a goal on Cloquet-Esko-Carlton goaltender Owen Carlson (30) with 4.6 seconds left to send the game into overtime at 6-6 Thursday night at Northwoods Arena in Cloquet. (Clint Austin / / 3

CLOQUET — In a game with more twists and turns than a murder mystery, Branden Matteen appeared to craft an improbable ending when the senior forward scored Cloquet-Esko-Carlton's third consecutive goal of the third period with 15 seconds remaining to give the Lumberjacks a 6-5 lead over Duluth East in a high school boys hockey game at Northwoods Arena.

Matteen gained control of the puck at the blue line following a turnover, skated in undisturbed, saw an opening between East goalie Lukan Hanson's blocker and the post, and capitalized.

Somehow, despite being outshot by a 2-to-1 margin, CEC was on the cusp of upsetting Class AA's second-ranked team.

"With 15 seconds left, I thought we were definitely going to win," Matteen said.

So did just about everybody else.

But East's Brendan Baker found himself all alone with the puck on his stick in front of the Lumberjacks' net with four seconds to play, and he slipped the equalizer through CEC goalie Owen Carlson's five-hole.

And, for the second time in three days, Northland rivals settled for a tie — though this one came after an eight-minute overtime, unlike Tuesday's affair between Duluth Marshall and Hermantown in which the OT clock was strangely set at five minutes.

That the Lumberjacks were in position to escape Thursday night without a loss was a story by itself. They were outshot 47-21 overall and, after taking a 2-0 lead early in the first period, the Greyhounds flipped the script and were dominant, cycling the puck almost at will while scoring four successive goals.

This one was all East for most of the opening 34 minutes, the Greyhounds' talent on full display.

No. 14 CEC (4-3-1), though, gamely hung around. The Lumberjacks' Kevin Smalley, coaching in this rivalry for the first time, had some choice words for his club after a near-disastrous second period, when East amassed a 14-4 advantage in shots on goal and scored four times to go up 5-3.

"I probably can't tell you what I said," Smalley said. "We challenged our guys. I think that challenge was pretty clear across the board that we weren't going away. We were going to finish as hard as we can."

That sentiment came to fruition when Landon Langenbrunner tallied his second goal of the night — and the Lumberjacks' fourth on the power play — 6:30 into the final frame to make it 5-4.

With 3:05 to go in regulation, a sliding Kade Bender tied it for CEC on a breakaway beauty, his second.

"They get the mojo in this building, and it's tough to get it back," East coach Mike Randolph said.

The coach couldn't fault his team's performance. The Greyhounds (3-0-2) were on the attack throughout, and their defense, led by recent Wisconsin commit Luke LaMaster, was suffocating. But when Bender evened the score at 5-5, the Lumberjacks were shooting 33 percent.

They found the back of the net on two of their first three attempts, prompting Hanson to replace starter Parker Kleive in East's net.

"We can't get that kind of goaltending against Cloquet in this rink," Randolph said.

Langenbrunner finished with two goals and two assists, while teammate Dane Stoyanoff notched three assists.

Garrett Worth had a pair of goals and assisted on two others for the Greyhounds. Worth and Ian Mageau are wings on a top line centered by North Dakota recruit Ryder Donovan, and those three ended the night with a combined seven points.

"They have some guys that can get up the ice, that's for sure," Smalley said. "Take a look at their 11 guys that played in the Elite League. We're not quite there yet."

CEC is still searching for consistency. The Lumberjacks followed up blowout wins over Duluth Denfeld and Hopkins last week by falling at Superior on Tuesday.

CEC and East, which met in last year's Section 7AA semifinals — a 1-0 Greyhounds win — hook up again Feb. 5 at Heritage Center.

Duluth East 1-4-1-0—6

Cloquet-EC 2-1-3-0—6

First period — 1. CEC, Kade Bender (Landon Langenbrunner, Dane Stoyanoff), 4:08 (pp); 2. CEC, Langenbrunner (Stoyanoff), 10:39 (pp); 3. DE, Hunter Paine (Garrett Worth), 16:17.

Second period — 4. DE, Worth (Ryder Donovan, Ian Mageau), 0:27; 5. DE, Mageau, 1:37; 6. DE, Luke LaMaster, 7:22 (pp); 7. CEC, Nick Baker (Gavin Rasmussen), 12:23 (pp); 8. DE, Nick Lanigan (Ricky Lyle, Brendan Baker), 14:58.

Third period — 9. CEC, Langenbrunner (Stoyanoff), 6:30 (pp); 10. CEC, Bender, 13:55; 11. CEC, Matteen (Langenbrunner), 16:45; 12. DE, Baker (Worth, Donovan), 16:56.

Saves — Owen Carlson, CEC, 41; Parker Kleive, DE, 1; Lukan Hanson, DE, 14.