In a game that looked like Forest Lake was going to win handily, Cloquet/Esko/Carlton came back from the dead to win convincingly 6-3 through a four-goal third period surge and a Jack McFarlane hat trick.
For the second straight game Cloquet/Esko/Carlton was held to a dismal of shots to start the game with only having four shots the entire first period.
“That was absolutely embarrassing” said Cloquet head coach Dave Esse, “We did not work hard. We stood around and we were very lethargic. They beat us to all loose pucks. They played the body and we didn’t. We might as well have taken the shoulder pads off in the first period.”
Forest Lake outshot Cloquet 14-4 in the first period with the lone goal being scored by C.J. Franklin from the top of the left circle just over three minutes into the game. Coach Esse was less than pleased with his team’s performance in the opening period and it was evident to everyone.
“Our coach made us very aware of our poor play and so we came out kind of came out there fired up” said Lumberjack captain Jack McFarlane, “We just tried to relax and we played our game. We got some good bounces and it was a good win for us.”
Despite Cloquet/Esko/Carlton's pick up in play, Forest Lake came down and scored just over a minute into the second period. The Lumberjacks broke out and got three quick shots and then Lucas Kohls scored on the Rangers’ second shot of the period to give his team a 2-0 advantage. Just two minutes later, though, Adam Hanson scored his first of two goals to put the Lumberjacks on the board.
“It was actually our third line that started the momentum” said coach Esse, “They got a couple big hits on the defensemen and kept the puck in the zone.”
With nine and a half minutes left to play in the second, McFarlane scored the first goal of his hat trick to tie the game up at two goals apiece. The period would end with the teams knotted up at two goals and the Rangers still leading in shots 25-13 with both teams getting nine shots in the period.
“Tone, tempo or whatever you want to say I thought for the second period we came out on our toes instead of our heels so we were the aggressor” explained coach Esse, “We made plays and we spread the rink out.”
The third period would not be kind to Forest Lake as they were given a taste of victory only to be cut down by the Lumberjacks. The Rangers came out and scored the first goal to regain the lead 3-2 from a Tommy Tyson power play goal with 14:41 left to play in the game. That would be the last time Forest Lake’s offense made an appearance as Cloquet/Esko/Carlton went on to score four unanswered goals in five minutes.
McFarlane got the comeback started and tied the game at three goals apiece with his second goal of the night with ten minutes left to play. Karson Kuhlman followed up with the eventual game-winner – a power play goal- two minutes later.
With less than six minutes to play McFarlane netted his hat trick goal, which was followed by Hanson’s second goal of the game to shut down the Rangers 6-3.
“We just got hungry around the net and we were going hard to the net” said Cloquet’s Nolan Meyer, “Good things come your way when you want them to happen.”
The final shots on goal were 31-27 with Cloquet/Esko/Carlton outshooting Forest Lake 14-6 in the final period. Despite winning by three goals, the Lumberjacks got a preview of another top team in section 7AA, a section that used to only have three top teams but now bolsters one of the toughest sectional playoff schedules in the state.
“There’s some really good teams in our section, right now it doesn’t really matter but it does come playoff time” explained McFarlane, “But you have to give Duluth East some credit and Grand Rapids, too, they’ve been making a run at it now.”
1. Jack McFarlane, Cloquet/Esko/Carlton
McFarlane scored his first hat trick of the season to help the Lumberjacks to a 6-3 win. McFarlane’s three point game pushed him over the twenty point threshold as he now has 21 points on the season.
2. Adam Hanson, Cloquet/Esko/Carlton
Hanson scored the first and last goals for Cloquet to help his team reach the Heritage Classic championship game. Hanson’s goal in the second period fueled his team’s comeback and his last goal sealed the deal to put the Rangers away 6-3.
3. Nolan Meyer, Cloquet/Esko/Carlton
Meyer assisted on two of McFarlane’s goals and both passes were beauties. Meyer’s two point game helped the Lumberjacks reach the championship game and pushed his season point total to 27 points.