Mike Randolph, coach of top-ranked and No. 1 seed Duluth East, found himself asking, “Who are these guys?” as his Greyhounds struggled to find their game in Thursday’s Class 2A state tournament quarterfinals.
Hockey fans statewide asked themselves similar questions about unheralded Lakeville South, which secured the biggest of three quarterfinals upsets.
A 3-2 Cougars’ victory makes the Greyhounds the first No. 1 seed to fall in the quarterfinals since Moorhead downed No. 1 seed Edina in 2009.
“Playing the No. 1 team we obviously came jacked and ready,” defenseman Joe Freemark said. “We knew we had to play our best.”
A 1-0 Duluth East lead after the first period disappeared as Lakeville South scored three unanswered goals. Lakeville South skated out of the zone with purpose and disrupted the Greyhounds offense in ways Randolph had not seen an opponent do this season.
The Greyhounds (27-2) rolled through a difficult schedule and weathered what Randolph called the most injury-plagued season in his 24 years at the helm. They came to St. Paul looking to avenge a three-overtime loss to Eden Prairie in last season’s championship game.
Lakeville South (21-8) returned to state after failing to score a goal in its two previous games in 2008.
The Cougars tied the game on a second period rush. Alex Harvey passed to Justin Kloos, who slid the puck to Patrick Lauderdale for a goal at 8:36. Kloos picked up his 100th point this season on the play.
If tying the game was good for morale, taking a lead early in the third period convinced the Cougars the game was theirs to lose. John Wiitala took a pass from Justin Doeden, went to the net and scored just one minute and 34 seconds into the period.
Kloos added an empty-net goal that deflected off the stick of diving defenseman Meirs Moore.