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Section 7AA Breakdown: Grand Rapids Shoots to End Semifinal Drought, Duluth East Fighting to Reboot in Postseason

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: February 18, 2020 10:52 PM

For the last ten years the Section 7AA boys hockey title has been passed between two Northland teams. Duluth East has won eight championships since 2010, and Grand Rapids has notched two. This season the Thunderhawks skate into the tournament with the higher seed.

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"This group has been extremely good at competing every single day and doing the job that they need to do to get better every single day," said Wade Chiodo, head coach of the Grand Rapids boy's hockey team. 

Led by first year Head Coach Wade Chiodo, they finished 17-7-1 in the regular season to earn the number two seed, their highest since 2016. Hosting 7th seeded Anoka in the quarterfinals, Grand Rapids was looking to advance to the semifinals for the first time 2017, when they went on to win the program's fourth Class AA State Championship.

"I think we just need to play with consistency and we've got to be there at the end of the year in March," said Grand Rapids senior goalie Carter Clafton.

Clafton's teammate, junior defenseman Jack Peart, added the Thunderhawks have been working to "get as far as we can in the postseason see if we can make it to the state tournament maybe even win it".

Despite earning their lowest seed in 10 years, number five Duluth East is on the rebound. The defending section champions recovered from a bout of sickness in January to close out their regular season with a win.

"We were all super sick and so we were all pretty down and out especially in our game against Elk River," said Duluth East senior forward Charlie Erickson. "Definitely just getting on the ice some more and getting used to that game pace again it was good to get a little rebound."

On the hunt for their third straight 7AA title, the Greyhounds first test is a rematch with fourth seeded Forest Lake. The Rangers defeated Duluth East 4-1 in their regular season meeting in January.

Mike Randolph, in his 31st season as head coach for Duluth East is staying positive, "when we play as a team and play the right way we can beat just about anybody." 

"Hopefully when the time comes we're all sticking up for each other and playing for each other," added Greyhound senior defenseman Ryan Cummings regarding the postseason.  

The competition is strong throughout the bracket. Andover earning the number one seed in back-to-back seasons (2019, 2020) will host eighth seeded Duluth Marshall. Third seeded Cloquet-Esko-Carlton finished 13-11-1 to host sixth seeded Elk River/Zimmerman in the quarterfinals. 

For the full Section 7AA boys hockey tournament bracket, click here.

Credits

Alicia Tipcke

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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