There's a copy of the Duluth News Tribune that hangs in the Duluth East locker room, but it's not a front-page spread highlighting one of the many glorious moments in Greyhound hockey history.
Instead, it's a copy of the sports page from the Wednesday, Jan. 9 edition, the day after the `Hounds lost to crosstown rival Duluth Denfeld for the first time in nearly two decades.
Duluth East hasn't lost since.
The Hounds (24-4-0) have won 16 games in a row, are getting solid play out of everyone in their lineup and are poised and confident entering their fifth Class 2A tournament in a row.
The newspaper will come with them to St. Paul to add a little extra motivation and serve as a reminder that Duluth East needs to bring its best every night.
Coach Mike Randolph credits the recent success to a complete buy-in to what he's been preaching -- team defense.
The Hounds' defense-first mentality has paid off, and now they'll look to shut down the best teams in Minnesota in hopes of claiming the fourth state title in Duluth East history.
-- Zack Friedli
FORWARDS: Duluth East is led up front by its top line of Alex Toscano, Jack Forbort and Ryan Lundgren. Between the three, the Hounds have a nice combination of size, strength and scoring, giving headaches to all opponents. The emergence and contributions of second- and third-liners such as Wyatt Irwin, Nick Altmann and Brian Bunten have given Duluth East some much welcomed depth at forward, something it will have to utilize at the X this week.
DEFENSE: When it comes to defense, the Hounds boast one of the most complete point patrols in the state. The top pair of Meirs Moore and Phil Beaulieu includes two defenders that get involved in the offense on a consistent basis. Both like to shoot, both make great plays with the puck and both have unbelievable poise. The second pair, made up of Alex Trapp and Andrew Kerr, is much more comfortable knocking around bodies than they are knocking around the puck.
GOALTENDING: The Hounds will ride senior Dylan Parker. After starting the year slowly, Parker was challenged by his coaches to step his game up, and he has. Should Duluth East come out with a state title, Parker will likely be the biggest reason for it.
Randolph, a former star forward on Duluth Cathedral's powerhouse teams in the late 1960s and early 1970s, won three Catholic school state championships from 1967-69. He was the last player cut from the 1976 U.S. Olympic team and is one of the winningest coaches in state history. He surpassed the 500-victory plateau this winter and won state championships in 1995 and 1998. He has led Duluth East to 14 state tournament appearances.
With tournament experience in key spots, one has to like the Greyhounds' chances. The defensive game will carry Duluth East this year, and Dylan Parker will have to keep up his stellar play. If those two things happen, the Hounds have as good of a chance as anyone to hoist the hardware on Saturday night.
2012-13 Record: 24-4-0
State trips: 1958, 60 Champs, 61, 64, 75, 91, 94, 95 Champs, 96, 97, 98 Champs, 2000, 03, 04, 05, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13
Coach: Mike Randolph
Assistants: Dylan Mills, Louie Krenzen, Brendan Brooks, Kyle Kolquist, Jake Boese, Mike Renier
Home arena: Heritage Arena, Duluth
Last season: Beat Eagan in Class 2A consolation final, 4-1