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Hunters senior defenseman Nolan Udd. Howie /

Class 1A/top-rated Hermantown clipped 2A/No. 7 Cretin-Derham Hall 2-1 and skated to a 3-3 overtime tie against 2A/No. 5 Hill-Murray in a high school boys hockey season-opening road back-to-back this weekend. The Hawks, skating with six sophomores who gained their first varsity experience since moving up from bantams, surrendered a 3-0 first period lead against the Pioneers at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood Saturday afternoon.

Hermantown sophomore AJ Francisco, centering the top line, had a goal and three assists in his varsity debuts, and senior goaltender Dane Callaway stopped 68 of 72 shots (.944 saves percentage, 1.85 goals-against average) in the openers. Senior defenseman Will Esterbooks added a goal and three assists and junior forward River Freeman collected a pair of goals for the heavy Section 7A favorites. The Hawks (1-0-1) next face 2A/No. 18 Centennial (3-0-1) at 3 p.m. Saturday at Hermantown Arena. FYI: Hawks scoring/goaltending leaders

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Duluth East fell to 1-4-0 overall following a 6-0 loss at Wayzata in a high school boys hockey nonconference game at Plymouth Ice Center Saturday afternoon. Rhys Wallin and Luke Miller scored two goals each for the Class 2A/No. 4 Trojans (3-0-0). The Greyhounds were out-shot 34-11. Duluth East will host Forest Lake (1-1-0) Tuesday night.

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Bobby Thornton scored twice to power Cloquet-Esko-Carlton past host Bloomington Jefferson 4-2 in a nonconference high school boys hockey game Saturday afternoon. Joseph Antonutti and Ethan Kilichowski also added goals and Caden Kubis had 27 saves for the Lumberjacks (2-0-0), who travel to Duluth Denfeld (2-1-0) Thursday night.

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Class 2A powerhouse Duluth Denfeld lost its first high school boys hockey game of the 2023-24 season Saturday afternoon, following two victories, 7-0 at nonconference Coon Rapids in the second game of a early-season weekend road back-to-back. The Hunters defeated Minneapolis 7-4 Friday night at Parade Ice Garden, as first line forwards John Scott and Valtteri Luhtalampi combined for four goals and 10 points. Denfeld (2-1-0) will visit Hibbing (3-3-0) on Tuesday before playing host to Cloquet (1-0-0) Thursday.

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Proctor-Hermantown edged defending Class AA state champion Gentry Academy 4-3 in a high school girls hockey game Saturday in Vadnais Heights. Jane Eckstrom had two goals and Neelah McLeod stopped 20 of 23 shots for the Mirage (3-3-1), who next host Grand Rapids-Greenway at 7 p.m. Thursday at Hermantown Arena.

. . . preseason first-team selections Bailey Zagelmeyer and Olivia Johnson combined for 27 points as Hermantown defeated Irondale 46-41 in a high school girls nonconference game Saturday afternoon in New Brighton. The Hawks (1-2), who led by two points at the half, will host Proctor (0-2) in a Lake Superior Conference matchup Thursday night.

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Duluth Denfeld junior point guard Marnaries Ferguson. Howie /

Duluth's team, Duluth Denfeld, lost to nonconference Big Lake 72-65 in the Hermantown Tip-Off Boys Basketball Tournament championship game Saturday afternoon, despite a spirited, 28-point performance by junior guard Marnaries Ferguson.

The Hunters, who led 31-30 at the half, were without senior power forward and second-leading returning senior Aidan Altona, who suffered a lower body injury early in Friday's 75-62 season and tourney opening game victory over Kasson-Mantorville.

Dashawn Moore picked up some of the scoring slack, adding 13 points, but Denfeld sorely lacked additional scoring firepower, especially in the second half.

The Hunters (1-1) visit Hermantown (0-2) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. before playing host to North Branch in their 2023-24 home opener Tuesday, Dec. 12.

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Elite Prep Players to Watch This Season

Boys Hockey – Hermantown sophomore center AJ Francisco and senior goaltender Dane Callaway; Denfeld junior center John Scott; Cloquet-Esko-Carlton junior forward Bobby Thornton and junior defenseman Karson Young.

Boys Basketball – Cherry senior guard Isaac Asuma; Duluth Denfeld junior point guard Marnaries Ferguson; Hermantown senior forward Abe Soumis; Cloquet junior guard Jack Battaglia