Michael Damberg (12) knocks in a goal for Duluth Marshall, which beat Providence Academy 11-1 in the semifinals of the Hilltoppers Thanksgiving Classic (Photos by Tim Kolehmainen).
Duluth Marshall coach Brendan Flaherty looks on as his team dispatches Providence Academy Friday night (Photos by Tim Kolehmainen).
Usually when a team hosts a season-opening holiday tournament, it likes to arrange a field in which it’s the clear favorite. Credit Duluth Marshall and coach Brendan Flaherty for breaking that trend.
For while the Hilltoppers are certainly a strong team that looks like a sure-fire top-10 team in Class A after dispatching Providence Academy in the Hilltoppers Thanksgiving Classic Friday night, they aren’t the favorites to take home the trophy. That honor goes to the top-ranked team in Class A, Breck, which also rolled past St. Cloud Cathedral in the other semifinal, 8-1.
“That is a high octane team. It looked like a small college team to me,” laughed Flaherty, who almost seemed to relish the challenge of playing the underdog. “They’re definitely bigger than we are and they’re older than we are.”
“It’s a good challenge for us, but I think we can play with them if we keep up our work ethic and our speed,” said Duluth Marshall senior sniper Judd Peterson, who tallied a first-period hat trick for the ‘Toppers against Providence Academy.
“Breck will be a good test for us to see where we are in the state.”
Both teams came out with impressive offensive attacks in the semifinals – and both got contributions from far more than their top lines. Breck did have a three-goal night from Wesley Iverson, but also had two goals each from “second line” forwards Thomas Lindstrom and Grant Opperman. Marshall had a five-point night from sophomore center Anthony Miller and three points from junior Matt Klassen.
But while Breck’s scorers were well-known names coming off of last season, Marshall’s contributors are newcomers. Flaherty knows Breck will present a big challenge for his young team and he hopes the youngsters don’t get caught up in the hype.
“We want to be careful that we don’t get caught in,” said Flaherty. “Breck looks like a team that could 2-to-1 all night long. Our D cannot get caught in.”
Peterson played with Opperman, both Iverson brothers (Wesley and Keegan) and defenseman Austin Rudnick in the Upper Midwest Fall Elite League and knows they won’t be an easy out. “(But) if we get the puck deep and play the body, we’ll have a shot,” said Peterson.
Still, it won’t be easy. And with more than three months before the playoffs begin, Flaherty isn’t concerned about a stumble early.
“If we were to drop one tomorrow, it wouldn’t be the end of the world,” said Flaherty. “The kids need to have some perspective. It’s still early. You can’t get too high or too low.”
Peterson jumpstarts Hilltoppers
With Duluth Marshall looking for a spark in its season opener, senior Judd Peterson stepped forward. Peterson tallied the Hilltoppers’ first three goals of the game, netting a hat trick in just over 12 minutes of game time.
“We were looking for someone to emerge and Judd was the guy,” said Duluth Marshall coach Brendan Flaherty. “Tonight was his night and he got us going.”
Peterson, last year’s leading goal-scorer, was expected to be a major contributor this winter and didn’t disappoint in his first game.
“We wanted to get off to an early start,” said Peterson. “Coach really emphasized staying on them.”
Lineup shuffling for Marshall
Junior Caden Flaherty started the semifinal game in nets against Providence Academy and after allowing an early goal, settled into a rhythm for the Hilltoppers. He stopped the final 17 shots he faced and 18 of 19 in total in the 11-1 victory. But coach Brendan Flaherty expects to start senior Christian Coffman Saturday night against top-ranked Breck.
Flaherty also hopes to get senior defenseman Ryan Gotelaere back after he left the Providence Academy victory midway through with a shoulder injury. He could be key against Breck’s high-powered offensive attack.
“We need him,” said Flaherty. “He’s a big strong horse back there.”
First year of holiday tournament
Friday night marked the first time Duluth Marshall has hosted a Thanksgiving tournament. In previous years, the Hilltoppers have traveled to Woodbury for its season-opening showcase.
“I’ve always wanted to do a private school tournament,” said Flaherty, who mentioned he had also been in conversation with Hill-Murray and Benilde-St. Margaret’s, and while neither could make it work this first season, the tournament filled up quickly with Breck, St. Cloud Cathedral and Providence Academy. Rochester Lourdes also expressed interest in being a future participant according to Flaherty.
“It looks like we’ll probably be doing this every year now,” said Flaherty. “I think it’ll be appealing.”
Judd Peterson (18) scored a first-period hat trick to lead Duluth Marshall past Providence Academy, 11-1 (Photos by Tim Kolehmainen).
Behind a first-period hat trick from senior Judd Peterson, Duluth Marshall cruised to an 11-1 victory over Providence Academy in the semifinals of the Hilltopper Thanksgiving Classic at Mars Lakeview Arena Friday night.
Peterson, the Hilltoppers' leading scorer as a junior last winter, scored three times in the opening 12 minutes to get Marshall off to a blazing start in its own tournament. Nine players scored at least two points for Duluth Marshall (1-0-0), including two goals and three assists from sophomore Anthony Miller.
Matt Klassen added two goals and an assist, Kris McKinzie had a goal and two assists and Cameron McClure had three assists for the Hilltoppers, who face No. 1 Breck in the tournament championship Saturday at 4 p.m.
Marshall Klitzke poked in the only goal for Providence Academy (0-1-0). The Lions play St. Cloud Cathedral in the third place game.
Caden Flaherty made 18 saves for the Hilltoppers while Providence Academy split time between goaltenders Sam Goetsch (23 saves) and Daniel Noble (7 saves).
1. Judd Peterson, Duluth Marshall
Peterson got the Hilltoppers going in the first period, recording his team's first three goals of the game. He showed great speed and puck-handling skills on all three -- along with a rocket of a shot.
2. Anthony Miller, Duluth Marshall
While Peterson was the 'Toppers' starter, Miller was their finisher. He kept the onslaught going through the final two periods and finished with two goals and three assists. Just a sophomore, he's one of several young players being counted on to provide offensive production behind Peterson.
3. Cameron McClure, Duluth Marshall
McClure had a hat trick of a different sort for Marshall, picking up both three assists and three minor penalties. His physical play set the tone for the Hilltoppers.