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Duluth East's Alex Toscano (23) and Moorhead's Eric Barker (25) go head-to-head in Thursday's state Class 2A quarterfinals. Photo by Brian Nelson

Having heard the final horn just before the puck arrived, Moorhead’s Aaron Herdt stood frozen in place, his stick cocked and ready to deliver a tying goal.

It became the final missed opportunity in the Spuds’ 1-0 loss to No. 2 seed Duluth East in Thursday’s first Class 2A boys’ hockey state tournament quarterfinal at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

“If we had one more second on the clock, who knows,” Herdt said. “Maybe we’d still be out there playing.”

For Duluth East forward Ryan Lundgren, one of five Greyhounds skaters tasked with stopping Moorhead’s final charge, the game could not have ended soon enoughThe Spuds pulled their goalie with 40 seconds remaining and a faceoff in Duluth East’s zone, pitting an extra skater and some late-game desperation against the Greyhounds’ resolve.

“We’re a defensive team and our forwards know how to block shots so we packed it in,” Lundgren said. “I tried blocking a shot at the end. I’ll do anything for these guys. I love these guys.”

After a scoreless opening period, junior forward Jack Kolar scored for Duluth East at 1:13 of the second period. He took a pass from Alex Toscano just inside the blue line and beat Spuds’ goaltender Jacob Dittmer with a wrist shot.

The Greyhounds outshot Moorhead 30-12 and out-hit the Spuds as well. Senior defenseman Andrew Kerr knocked Nicolas Uglem from the game in the second period with a legal check.

“He’s one of our big four,” Moorhead coach Pete Cullen said. “It hurts to lose a senior captain. We had to scramble to get some magic back and I thought we did.”

DAVID La VAQUE, Star Tribune

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Statistics, Summary

1. Jack Kolar, Duluth East
A junior forward with four goals entering the state tournament, Kolar won’t forget goal No. 5. He took a pass as he skated into the Moorhead zone, cut to his left and whipped a low shot that skidded underneath Spuds goaltender Jacob Dittmer.  

2. Meirs Moore, Duluth East
The senior defenseman fired four shots on goal, blocked two shots and broke three sticks. Moore’s all-around play was superb, as he continually found lanes to get his point shots on goal and was instrumental in limiting the Spuds to 12 shots on goal.

3. Jacob Dittmer, Moorhead
The sophomore goaltender emerged from the enormous shadow of former Spuds star Michael Bitzer by making 29 saves. Dittmer’s sprawling glove save in the third period on Duluth East’s Tyler Sworsky was described as Moorhead coach Peter Cullen as Dittmer’s best save of the season. Hard to imagine a better one.

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