While impressive on paper, Thursday’s boys’ hockey game between Duluth East and Grand Rapids – two top 10 teams in Class 2A – is just another night on the schedule.
“Absolutely not,” Grand Rapids coach Bruce LaRoque said. “Bottom line, these kids have grown up playing in region play and in traveling teams against each other and it’s no secret Duluth East has dominated for years. These kids have a natural rivalry and it’s been built up for many years.”
Both teams come into Thursday’s game well-prepared for a tough battle.
Grand Rapids, No. 7 in this week’s Hub poll, has already played Class 1A notables Virginia/Mt. Iron-Buhl (11-4), Warroad (9-4), Duluth Marshall (8-6-1) and Hermantown (12-0-1). The Thunderhawks (11-2-1) also played Eden Prairie (10-2) and Edina (9-2-2) – ranked No. 1 and 2, in Class 2A, respectively – back-to-back in mid-December.
“You try and get the kids out of their comfort zones,” LaRoque said. “You have to push them, and more or less they’ve shown up every night.”
It’s no different for the sixth-ranked Greyhounds (10-2).
Duluth East opened the year with a 2-1 loss to then-top-ranked Wayzata. It has since defeated Edina, in addition to Class 1A powers Breck (7-3) and St. Thomas Academy (6-3).
So while Thursday’s game will have plenty of intrigue it’s hardly something new.
“We’re going to have our hands full, that’s for sure,” LaRoque said.
Click here to follow the showdown between No. 7 Grand Rapids and No. 6 Duluth East live with our Spotlight Game coverage.