Grand Rapids at Duluth East
7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 8

For the first time in a great while, neither Grand Rapids (7-8-1) or Duluth East (5-5-1) enters their matchup ranked among the top 20 teams in the state. But that shouldn’t diminish what has been a terrific rivalry in Class 2A, Section 7 during the last few years — and will continue to be.

The Thunderhawks have ridden an extreme roller coaster this winter, winning their first four games before embarking on an eight-game losing streak. Since ending that skid with a 5-0 victory over St. Francis on Dec. 30, Grand Rapids is 3-0-1. So which Thunderhawks team will we see Thursday in Duluth? The one that piled up goals in its victories, led by the junior line of Alex Adams (13-18-31), Mitchell Mattson (12-17-29) and Jonah Bischoff (8-16-24). Or the one that averaged just 2.1 goals per game in the losing skid?

Duluth East has been equally Jekyll and Hyde, following up a decent start to the season with a 0-3 showing in the Schwan Cup Gold Division Dec. 29-31. The ‘Hounds needed overtime to defeat Hopkins and St. Michael-Albertville and haven’t scored more than four goals in a game this season. Ryan Peterson (5-3-8) and Duluth Marshall transfer Luke Dow (5-3-8) lead the ‘Hounds in goals and points (with Nick Altmann).