Beyond the Playbook: Celebrating 75 years of Duluth East boy’s hockey
Some words to describe the last 75 years of Duluth East boy’s hockey: “Longevity, consistency, greatness and just creating this sense of community,” said Karl Schuettler, a Youth Hockey Hub contributor.
The program emerged as a powerhouse in the 1950s, and ultimately won the state title in 1960.
From then on, Duluth East set the precedent of excellence on the ice and in the Northlands
“It’s really unique and it’s this culture that’s a lot like Texas football or Indiana basketball, where it’s just what you do,” added Schuettler.
The Greyhounds would win, win, and win some more over the next 50 years, winning the state championship in 1995 and 1998, the bookends of the Greyhounds golden age. In 1996, the team was never held to less than three goals in the entire season.
The head of the mammoth that was Duluth East hockey was Mike Randolph, who coached the Greyhounds for 32 years, winning two state titles.
In June of 2021, Randolph resigned from his position, citing parental pressure and lack of support from administration. Randolph, one of the greatest coaches in the areas history, later became the head coach for another hockey power house, St. Thomas Academy.
For the Greyhounds, there were massive shoes to fill, but in stepped Steve Pitoscia.
“We take a lot of pride in being a part of this program then and now,” said Pitoscia. “We try to instill that in these guys, too. I think the benefit of that is, is they get to understand the tradition first hand from guys that have been a part of it.”
Pitoscia and a good part of his staff are Greyhound alum. That precedent, of coming back to hockey at Duluth East and inspiring the next generation of Greyhounds, is what keeps the current players going.
“It’s really cool because it inspires you as a kid at your local rinks,” said Noah Tang, a senior forward for Duluth East. “You always look it up to these guys and now you’re the guy that everyone else is looking up to.
With greatness comes a target on your back though, and the Greyhounds understand that.
“Everybody you play always wants to beat you because of what everybody has done in the past,” said Pitoscia. “So I think that’s amazing, when you only get 25 games in a year and every one of them are special, that’s pretty rare.”
While the Greyhounds of the 2020’s haven’t been the Greyhounds of the past, there’s no secret that they’re ready to get back to their winning ways.
“Just as a program, we feel we keep getting better we’ve had a bunch of winning seasons,” said Thomas Gunderson, a senior center. “We weren’t the best for awhile but now we’re back where we should be.”
“I think last season, ultimately it proved that, you know, what has been build over time is so much broader than he’s for one or two years,” concluded Schuettler.