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Not many teams that are going to feel sorry for Duluth East.

The Greyhounds, hit with injuries and illnesses, have been a mainstay at the state tournament, where they always are considered a title contender.

They will not get any sympathy no matter how much their lineup is depleted.

Still, the past couple of weeks have been trying for Duluth East in terms of personnel.

Its starting goalie Dylan Parker sprained his ankle before a loss to Centennial on Dec. 18.

During the Schwan Cup senior Hogan Davidson ruptured his spleen and his hockey career at Duluth East is now over.

Now the Grehounds have to deal with a flu bug that is running its course through their locker room.

"Every team goes through something like this every year," Duluth East coach Mike Randolph said. "We are not going to make any excuses about that. We just have to have guys step up."

Junior defenseman Phil Beaulieu did not make the trip to Blaine with the Greyhounds as he was one who was hit with the spreading illness.

Senior forward Ryan Lundgren nearly missed the game because he was ill, but was able to tough it out and score a goal in the third and chip in with an assist.

"I didn't think he was going to suit up," Randolph said. "He was throwing up right before the game, but he got himself ready and played a great game."

With all the chaos that has been going on with Duluth East of late, it has still found ways to not only compete, but win big hockey games.

Its 5-1 victory against Blaine on Thursday, Jan. 3 at Fogerty Arena was just more evidence that no matter what is brought to the table the Greyhounds will find the right players remain a state powerhouse.

"It is nice to see a lot of guys step up and play pretty good when maybe they weren't expecting to as much this season," senior defenseman Meirs Moore said. "Everyone is contributing, especially the guys that are stepping in for guys that are injured or sick."

Moore's partner on the blue line has always been Beaulieu, and that combination has helped make Duluth East one of the state's stingiest defensive teams.

With Beaulieu back home Randolph tossed Joey Marinac with Moore and the Greyhounds didn't miss a beat.

Moore, one of the state's premier defensemen and a potential Mr. Hockey candidate, will sway into the offensive flow, which he did against Blaine scoring Duluth East's first goal on the power play.

For Marinac, his job was to shut down the aggressive and speedy Bengals.

"Guys are really playing their roles well," Randolph said. "We might not have the depth we have had in the past, but we have guys in that locker room that are stepping in and playing their role.

"Joey (Marinac) was one of those guys tonight. We put him with Meirs and he played a hell of a game."

Team defense has been an asset for the Greyhounds during these trying times.

In their last five games they have only allowed seven goals and it hasn't been against subpar competition.

After its win against Blaine, Duluth East is 4-1-0 in those past five, its only defeat coming to Breck, 2-0, in the opening round of the Schwan Cup Gold Division.

The Greyhounds own a 1.80 goals-against average.

"They have been great back there," Greyhounds' senior forward Alex Toscano said. "Meirs (Moore) has been leading them back there, our goalie has been hot and we have guys stepping up and filling in holes when we need it.

"We are on a roll right now, and it's because of them."

Toscano scored two goals in the second period against Blaine which gave Duluth East the lead for good.

Jack Forbort centers the top line and accounted for three assists, two to Toscano and one to Lundgren.

There isn't a player on Duluth East's roster that has 10 or more goals this season. Toscano leads the Greyhounds with seven while a handful of players have six and five respectfully.

What the Greyhounds have relied on is balance and accountability of players when they hit the limelight.

"We are not going to win a lot of games if we rely on our top line to do everything," Randolph said. "All of our lines need to play well, and when guys go down we need others to step in and we are getting all of that right now."

Its victory against Blaine comes on the heels of consecutive 4-1 wins against Edina and Minnetonka in the Schwan Cup.

Duluth East's hard-nosed defense that limited Blaine to 18 shots on goal.

"We are on a nice roll right now," Toscano said. "Defense has been great, we are scoring goals and everyone is doing everything they can to get us some huge wins on the road.

"On the bus ride home, eat some pizza and enjoy the ride back."

Statistics, Summary

Game Recap


Alex Toscano

Alex Toscano scored twice as No. 6-ranked Duluth East defeated No. 9 Blaine 5-1 on Thursday,  Jan. 3 at Fogerty Arena in Blaine.

Toscano scored both of his goals in the second period and the Greyhounds took a 3-1 lead heading into the third.

Just 80 seconds into the first period the Bengals took the lead on Dallas Gerads' fifth goal of the season.

Later in the first Meirs Moore scored on the power play knot it up at one.

Duluth East's Kyler Chartier was called for tripping 55 seconds into the third, but Blaine was unable to capitalize.

After Chartier's penalty expired, Wyatt Irwin intercepted a pass at the Bengals' blue line and made a nifty move to his backhand to slide a shot through the legs of Blaine goalie Bailey Ketola.

Ryan Lundgren concluded the scoring by chipping in a shot from in tight.

Toscano added an assist for a three-point night.

Duluth East's Jack Forbort had three assists and Lundgren had a goal and an assist.

Ketola made 27 saves while Dylan Parker was not nearly as busy for the Greyhounds, making 17 stops.

After its defeat to Breck in the opening round of the Schwan Cup, Duluth East is on a roll with three straight wins against top tier competition.

The Greyhounds (7-3-0) will be on the road again on Saturday, Jan. 5 when they take on Moorhead.

Blaine started the season 6-0-1, but is now on a four-game losing streak. The Bengals host Andover on Saturday, Jan. 5 in a Northwest Suburban Conference matchup.

1. Alex Toscano, Duluth East
One of the seniors that will need to play a big role in the scoring department, Toscano did so with two goals and an assist. Both his goals came in the second period and shifted control in the Greyhounds' favor.

2. Jack Forbort, Duluth East
Centers are supposed to be the playmakers and as the center of Duluth East's top line, he played that role to near perfection with three assists. He did not have the scoring chances that he has had in past games, but he set his teammates up for quality scoring chances all night.

3. Ryan Lundgren, Duluth East
Before the game Lundgren was throwing up as illness has hit the Greyhounds like a ton of bricks as of late, but he was able to pull through and contribute with a goal and an assist.

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