Duluth East celebrates an empty-net goal in the third period of Saturday's 4-2 win over Minnetonka. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine
Duluth East doesn’t employ an overly complicated game plan.
Take the body, get pucks deep, take the body, shoot the puck from all angles and distances, take the body.
Oh, and one more thing. Get the puck to Garrett.
Garrett would be Garrett Worth, the Greyhounds’ leading goal scorer this season by a country mile.
“Sniper,” Duluth East junior Ryder Donovan said about his longtime linemate on Saturday after the Greyhounds upended No. 1-ranked and previously unbeaten Minnetonka 4-2 at Pagel Activity Center in Minnetonka. “He’s got an absolute knack for scoring. Me and Ian both know that.”
Worth, senior Ian Mageau and Donovan form the Greyhounds’ WMD line. Weapons of Mass Destruction. And metaphorically speaking, Worth is, indeed, a weapon. He scored twice against the Skippers to boost his season goal total to 17, more than twice as many as Mageau, Duluth East’s No. 2 goal scorer with eight. After Mageau, no other Greyhound has more than three goals.
“I’m the playmaker,” said the 6-foot-4 Donovan, who has committed to play at North Dakota. “Feed (Worth) the puck. That’s my job, and he buries every one.”
On Saturday, Worth poked home a loose puck sitting in the crease during a first-period Duluth East power play. He scored again the second, this time taking a feed in the slot and skating in alone on Minnetonka goaltender Charlie Glockner. After a head fake, several lightning-fast stickhandles and quick flip of the puck, the Greyhounds led 3-1.
“He’s just really good around the net,” Duluth East coach Mike Randolph said. “He’s done it for us for four years. We’re not surprised, because that’s his game.
“He bears down in front of the net and he finds a way to put the puck in the net.”
Worth’s 17 goals puts him at 10th on the state goal-scoring list. He had a couple of chances for the hat trick in the closing minutes on Saturday, once missing an empty net after Glockner had been pulled in favor of an extra skater. With Glockner back in the net in the closing seconds, Worth clanked a shot off the crossbar just before the final horn sounded.
“Missed the open net, that always (stinks),” Worth said. “But we got the win, and that’s the most important.”
Yes, the win was an crucial one for the Greyhounds, who were ranked No. 4 in Class 2A in the latest state coaches’ poll. With Minnetonka ascending to the top spot in the rankings thanks to its showing in the Schwan Cup Gold Division (the Skippers registered a victory over No. 3 Edina and tie against No. 2 St. Thomas Academy), Duluth East’s status among the state’s teams was relatively unknown. The Greyhounds did not play in a holiday tournament, and they hadn’t exactly been dominant in reeling off seven wins and three ties before playing Minnetonka (11-1-2).
“We’ve been looking for a signature win all season,” Donovan said. “We haven’t blown people out, we’ve kept it close. This was a huge game for us to get that off our backs.”
Duluth East also exorcised its dubious recent history against the Skippers. Last season, Minnetonka thrashed the Greyhounds 6-0 in an early January game in Duluth. Two seasons ago, the Skippers blew out Duluth East 6-1 in Minnetonka in the Greyhounds’ final game of the regular season.
“I remember getting clobbered here two years ago,” Worth said.
“Bad memories,” said Donovan.
After Saturday’s win, the Greyhounds were celebrating with high-decibel vigor in their locker room.
“I think we are up there with the top (teams in the state),” Worth said. “We came ready to go and all the guys were excited. Good W for our group, but it’s back to work on Monday.”
Minnetonka coach Sean Goldsworthy, meanwhile, found some positives in the loss. Specifically, a good response in the third period after a flat second.
“When I challenge us after the second period to be better, we always respond,” he said. “We have yet to lose a third period this year. As long as that stays true, I think we’ll be just fine.”
Duluth East senior forward Garrett Worth finished with two goals in the Hounds' 4-2 victory at Minnetonka Saturday. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine
Garrett Worth scored twice and rang a shot off the crossbar in the closing seconds as Duluth East, ranked No. 4 in Class 2A in the latest state coaches’ poll, became the last of the state’s unbeaten teams on Saturday afternoon with a 4-2 victory over No. 1 and previously unbeaten Minnetonka at the Pagel Activity Center in Minnetonka.
Worth, a senior who leads the Greyhounds (8-0-3) with 17 goals, notched his first goal against the Skippers (11-1-2) in the first period to tie it at 1. He put the Greyhounds ahead 3-1 with a goal late in the second. Worth twice had chances to get the hat trick in the closing minutes, but he missed an empty net from long range and then blistered his shot off the crossbar just before the final horn sounded.
Senior Austin Jouppi also scored in a dominating second period for Duluth East. Senior Nick Lanigan scored into an empty net with 1:29 remaining.
Minnetonka defenseman Andrew Hicks opened the scoring 1:24 into the first period, and senior Luke Loheit pulled the Skippers to within 3-2 just 2:44 into the third.
Duluth East junior goaltender Lukan Hanson finished with 19 saves while Minnetonka junior goalie Charlie Glockner finished with 23 saves.
Duluth East's Carson Cochran plays the body along the boards while Minnetonka's Teddy Lagerbeck fights for the puck during the second period Saturday at Pagel Arena in Minnetonka. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine