DULUTH – "How bout them Hounds?" Duluth East boys' hockey coach Mike Randolph repeatedly exclaimed as he left the Amsoil Arena ice after his team's 4-3 overtime upset of Andover.
For a second consecutive year, Andover and Duluth East needed overtime to settle the Class 2A, Section 7 championship game. And once again, Duluth East prevailed. This time, Ryder Donovan scored on the power play just 36 seconds into the extra period to stun fourth-ranked Andover.
With Thursday's victory before an announced crowd of 3,912 fans, No. 12 Duluth East (18-6-2) advances to next week's state tournament. Meanwhile, Andover (24-3-1) once again found its first state tournament just out of reach.
Andover tied the score 3-3 on Charlie Schoen's shallow-angle snipe for a power-play goal at 10:55 on the third period.
"I was pretty sure we would win right then, to be honest," Huskies coach Mark Manney said.
But Andover, which defeated Duluth East 2-1 in overtime on Dec. 8, couldn't find its next goal.
"I didn't think we'd be as nervous as we were," Manney said. "I didn't think our best players were our best players tonight except for [junior defenseman] Wyatt Kaiser.
"Nerves and adrenaline will fatigue you and make your mind go places it wouldn't normally go. I felt like we needed a little more grit, a little more participation."
Randolph got all that and more from his four senior captains.
"They've taken this team under their wing," Randolph said. "They all lead by example."
Defenseman Frederick Paine did all the little things well. Ricky Lyle scored twice and fellow forward Patrick FitzGerald added a goal. And Donovan, a Mr. Hockey finalist, scored the game-winning goal.
"Donovan left practice earlier this week because he had the flu and I went, 'Uh oh,'" Randolph said. "But knowing him, he wasn't going to miss this game."
Though not wearing a "C" on his jersey, Duluth East goaltender Brody Rabold has led by example for years. He entered the program three years ago ranked fifth on the depth chart.
On Thursday, he stoned Mr. Hockey finalist Charlie Schoen on a breakaway and moments later gloved a rising slapshot from Gunnar Thoreson.