Beyond the Blueline: Hilltoppers No Longer Flying Under the Radar

Eyewitness Sports
December 26, 2017 10:50 PM

The Duluth Marshall boys' hockey team is off to their best start since moving up to Class AA in the 2015-2016 season.

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"It's the start we were looking for and we feel like we were flying under the radar. I don't know if teams were ready for us but we came out flying," said junior forward Keelan Golat.

Rallying off five straight wins is how the Hilltoppers started the season. During that time, the team averaged around 7 goals a game and only let up three.

"We're coming out competitive each and every game. Most teams it takes them a while to get that competitive edge, but we came out first game ready to fly and that's huge for us," said senior goaltender Cam Brandt.

Now sitting nine games in, Duluth Marshall has suffered two losses on the season. However, those losses came against opponents who were ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in Class AA.

"We learned that we can play with anybody," said senior forward John Ribich. "We're good enough to play with them, we just have to dig deep and work hard to get there."

With just about everybody back from last year's roster, the team is crediting their experience to their hot start.

"It's really fun to see everyone jelling, talking, and moving the puck well. The chemistry that we have right now is helping us get to the play that we can get to as fast as possible. It's a lot of fun to be playing at the level we're playing at this early," said senior forward George Grannis.

The hope to carry over this momentum over to the Hilltopper Classic set to start Dec. 27.

"Our Holiday Classic is huge," said Head Coach Brendan Flaherty. "It features Hermantown, Cloquet, Bemidji, and Brainerd who is good this year. Wayzata of course is coming up so it's a really strong field."

The tournament is always a good near mid-season test for the Toppers to see how they compare to a variety of teams, but especially to teams they could see later on during sections.

"We're reaping the rewards right now. We're in a really tough section, so there's not a lot of margin for error really," Flaherty added laughing.



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