DULUTH EAST (NO. 5, 18-6-2) VS. ST. THOMAS ACADEMY (NO. 4, 24-3-1), 8 P.M.
Scouting the Cadets: The team’s 18-game winning streak catches the eye. But it’s the less-heralded efforts of an improved defensive corps that excites co-head coach Greg Vannelli. “We’ve got five guys back there who have been so steady,” he said. “We’ve told them that their points don’t matter, we just want them taking care of our end.” The Cadets turned stingy down the stretch, allowing no more than one goal in their past 10 games. Up front, St. Thomas Academy solidified a strong second line with the return of senior Ben Stucker from injury.
Scouting the Greyhounds: After announcing Nov. 26 that he rescinded his verbal commitment to play at North Dakota, elite forward Ryder Donovan reopened himself to the recruiting grind. Duluth East coach Mike Randolph said those distractions hurt Donovan’s game. On the eve of the Section 7 playoffs, Donovan announced his verbal commitment to Wisconsin. Then he tallied a goal in all three postseason games, including the overtime winner in the section final against favored Andover. He has 15 goals and 27 assists this season. “Putting that decision behind him relaxed him,” Randolph said.
Worth knowing: In the 2015 state quarterfinals, Duluth East overcame a pair of three-goal deficits to earn a 6-5 upset victory over the Cadets in overtime.
David La Vaque