Cloquet-Esko-Carlton and Duluth Denfeld will play for the Heritage Holiday Classic high school boys hockey championship at 3:30 p.m. today at Sill Arena in Duluth's Friendly West End. Both teams have won their first two games in the three-day, eight-team event, with the Lumberjacks defeating Apple Valley-Burnsville 5-2 and Anoka 6-1 and the Hunters clipping Irondale 4-1 and Park of Cottage Grove 3-2.
Class 1A/No. 9-ranked Cloquet-Esko-Carlton (7-3-0) lost to Class 2A/unranked Duluth Denfeld (7-3-1) 5-4 at Sill Arena on Dec. 7.
The Lumberjacks are led by 6-foot-3 junior power forward Bobby Thornton, who has a team-high 15 goals and 20 points, and junior Niko Gentilini (15 points). The Hunters' all-junior first line of John Scott centering Valtteri Luhtalampi and Nolan Harju has scored 30 of the team's 40 total goals. Denfeld goalie Connor Doyle is 7-3-1 and boasts a 2.90 goals-against average and .908 saves percentage. Brady Wick (8 points) is a rapidly-improving defenseman.
TOP PREP PERFORMERS, THURSDAY
Cloquet standout Carly Johnson had 15 points in a 67-57 loss to Rock Ridge in a Wood City Classic high school basketball game.
. Junior power forward River Freeman, a rising college prospect, had two goals and a pair of assists to lead Class 1A/No. 1-ranked Hermantown to a 5-1 victory over 1A/No. 3 East Grand Forks in a high school hockey game at beautiful Hermantown Arena. The Hawks, who are also led by senior goaltender Dane Callaway, improved to 6-1-2 overall.
. Junior guard Marnaries Ferguson had 33 points and Ethan Starstead 25 to lead Duluth Denfeld past Nashwauk-Keewatin in a North Star Hardwood Showcase high school basketball consolation bracket game in Hibbing.
. Senior power forward Abe Soumis scored a team-high 23 points as Hermantown fell to Delano 85-61 at the Delano Holiday Tournament.