Meirs Moore of Duluth East has one goal and 11 assists for Team North this fall. Photo by Helen Nelson
The trio of Trevor Olson, Jake Randolph and Dom Toninato accounted for 69 of Duluth East’s 128 regular-season goals last season.
It’s no secret that any game plan built for beating the Greyhounds starts and ends with controlling their top line.
Even that might not be enough.
“All the teams are going to know those are our go-to guys,” Duluth East junior defenseman Meirs Moore said. “But then we’ll try to get the D jumping in trying to make some more plays.”
Moore, a junior defenseman, scored five goals and added 18 assists last season. His partner on defense, senior Nate Repensky, ranked fourth in Duluth East scoring with three goals and 23 assists. Moore and Repensky typically join Olson, Randolph, Toninato on the power play.
Teams focused only with Duluth East’s trio of senior forwards might be in for an unpleasant surprise. With Moore and Repensky, the Greyhounds have two of the state’s most forward-thinking defensemen.
Paired for much of the fall on Team North in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League, Moore and Repensky have combined for 19 points in 18 games. Moore twice set up Toninato for goals in Team North’s 4-3 victory over Team Southwest on Sunday, Oct. 16, in Brainerd.
“The first goal, I walked it in and saw Dom in front so I sauced it a little,” Moore said. “The main thing was to get over the guy’s stick and then let Dom do the rest from there.
“The second one, I got a one-timer from Trevor. I tried to bomb it, but I kind of whiffed on it a little bit. But it ended up going right to Dom, so it worked out good.”
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Olson leads Team North in goals (11), points (22) and hard hits (plenty). The 6-½, 165-pound Toninato, another player who enjoys throwing his weight around, has a team-best 13 assists and shares the Team North scoring lead with 22 points.
Randolph missed two full weekends and seven games with a concussion, but has returned to energize Team North for its stretch run into the Elite League playoffs. The 5-8, 165-pound Randolph has two goals and six assists in in 11 games.
“I don’t remember even the hit,” said Randolph, who suffered the concussion in a Sept. 18 game against Manitoba. “It was weird, like I was in some kind of a dream. My teammates said I was just out of it. It was the weirdest thing I ever went through. I guess I played one shift after the hit, and I don’t even remember that shift.”
Randolph watched part of a Team North game in Duluth while sitting out. Hibbing’s Adam Johnson took Randolph’s spot on the wing with Olson and Toninato.
“He did pretty good,” Randolph said. “It’s not hard to play with Dom and Trev, so I’m sure he loved that.”
1. Dom Toninato, Team North
A rugged 6-foot-½, 165-pound senior forward, Toninato isn’t afraid to station himself in front of the net. The Duluth East star scored twice on deflections to help power Team North to the victory.
2. Zach Hnath, Team Southwest
A senior from Rogers, Hnath is a 6-2, 170-pound forward with a nose for the net. He scored an unassisted goal after coolly depositing a loose puck high into an open net late in the second period and was in the right place again late in the third when Ben Walker of Edina drilled a shot that deflected high off Hnath and into the goal.
3. Meirs Moore, Team North
A junior defenseman from Duluth East, Moore assisted on both of Toninato’s tip-ins and was his usual rock-steady self in the Team North defensive zone.
Dom Toninato of Duluth East scored twice on deflections of defenseman Meirs Moore point shots, and Team North hung on to beat Team Southwest 4-3 on Sunday, Oct. 16, in an Upper Midwest High School Elite League game at Brainerd Area Civic Center.
Zach Hnath of Rogers scored twice for Team Southwest (8-7-3). Hnath’s second goal came with 5 minutes, 4 seconds remaining to cut Team North’s lead to 4-3. Max Coatta of Minnetonka had scored with 6:45 remaining to spark Team Southwest’s late rally.
Hermantown’s Jared Thomas scored what proved to be the game winner with 7:22 remaining when he took converted a gorgeous feed from Cloquet’s Karson Kuhlman on a high-speed rush into the Team Southwest end.
Moore, a Duluth East junior, set up both of Toninato’s goals with low shots ideally placed for Toninato to redirect the puck.
The victory pushed Team North (8-6-4) into a tie with Team Northeast for fourth place in the league standings. Team North has 20 points, just two behind Shattuck-St. Mary’s and Team Northeast.
Team Southwest has 19 points, as just three points separate five teams in the chase for second place. First-place Team Southeast has 28 points heading into the league’s final weekend.
Team North's Bryan Nies of Grand Forks Red River stopped 34 of 37 shots to earn the win. Zach Thompson of Duluth Denfeld made 51 saves for Team Southwest.