skip navigation

Dog Eat Dog

By Loren Nelson, 12/19/20, 1:00PM CST

Share

Duluth Denfeld, No. 7 in Class 1A, has rabid hunger for the puck - and success


Junior Connor McClure finished third in scoring for Duluth Denfeld last season with 50 points (20 goals, 30 assists). Photo by Tim Kolehmainen, Breakdown Sports Media

Our look at Class 1A continues as we count down the top 20 small-school teams for the 2020-21 season.

7. Duluth Denfeld

2019-20 Record: 21-6-1
Playoffs: Lost 6-0 to Hermantown in Section 7A championship
Seniors lost: 7
Goals for: 117
Goals lost: 28 | Goals returning: 89
Goals against: 63
Goalie minutes lost: 739:39 | Goalie minutes returning: 698:43
Power-play percentage: 22.7
Penalty-kill percentage: 83.3

Duluth Denfeld’s McClure twins grind down and chew up defensemen like rabid dogs devouring raw meat. They are relentless. They are ruthless. They are remorseless.

Tough to play against? Squaring off against Duluth Denfeld is torture on ice. If the McClures — junior forwards Connor and Cooper — don’t harass teams to death, then ultra-smooth senior forward Kade Shea will most certainly finish them off with a well-timed dangle or snipe. 

Frustrating? Teams that find the occasional crack in the Hunters’ defense rarely are rewarded. That’s because senior Jacob Snyder ranks among the state’s elite goaltenders, a well-padded wall of disappointment to opposing sharpshooters.

Duluth Denfeld returns 17 players from last season’s team that reached the Section 7A championship. The McClures, Shea and Snyder all played in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League this fall, helping Velocity Hockey Center win the league’s playoff championship. They are joined by top defenseman Joe Udd, a senior, as the core of a Hunters team that figures to be the No. 1 section challenger to longtime Class 1A heavyweight Hermantown (nine state tournament title-game appearances in the last 11 years). 

The Hunters lost 6-0 to Hermantown in the section title game last season, and top scorer Griffin Lehet (24 goals, 53 points), standout defenseman Dylan Jouppi (30 points) and goaltender Shawn Easty (10-4-0 record, 2.67 goals-against average) are the biggest graduation losses. The return of Shea (23 goals, 29 assists), Connor McClure (20 goals, 30 assists; No. 14 in Legacy Hockey's Class of 2022 rankings), junior Simon Davidson (15 goals, 18 assists) and Cooper McClure (26 points despite missing nine games to injury) provides Denfeld with a well-stocked arsenal of forwards.

Udd (7 goals, 9 assists) and juniors Nate Larson (8 points) and John Bloomquist (7 points) anchor the defense. Snyder went 10-2-1 (1.75 goals-against average, .933 save percentage) while splitting time with Easty.

The Hunters’ 21 victories last season were their most since the 1987-88 season, when Denfeld went 22-7-0 and won the single-class state tournament consolation championship. The Hunters haven’t reached the state tourney since 1988-89 when they finished third with stars such as Jon Michelizzi tending goal and burly defenseman Tony Burns firing howitzers from the blue line.

That team was talented, fierce, gritty.  Brutal to play against.

Sound familiar?  

More than 400 interviews
 

Hundreds of vintage photos
 

Chapter for every year
 

Top 10 Charts
 

Dozens of vignettes

Statistical Leaders

Tourney Time Teasers

  • O What a Relief

  • By David La Vaque 06/09/2020, 5:45pm CDT
  • Hill-Murray's Seamus Regan delighted father, brother by accomplishing what they couldn't
  • Read More
  • Danger Zone

  • By Loren Nelson 03/04/2020, 2:30pm CST
  • Goalies were once allowed to skate to opposite end — and did so at their own peril
  • Read More
  • The Heartbreak Kid

  • By David La Vaque 01/24/2020, 10:30am CST
  • Rob McClanahan and undefeated Mounds View dealt bitter state quarterfinal loss in 1976 by Steve Christoff and Richfield
  • Read More

The Full Nelson

  • Eagles Forever

  • By Loren Nelson 01/27/2021, 9:45pm CST
  • Jackson Blake's return a testament to Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith's passion for the high school experience
  • Read More
  • Maple Grove climbs to No. 1

  • By Loren Nelson 01/25/2021, 11:15pm CST
  • Crimson's dominance through four games impossible to ignore; Mahtomedi notches big win for Minnesota
  • Read More
  • Magic Man

  • By Loren Nelson 01/19/2021, 12:00am CST
  • Jack Wandmacher waves his stick, St. Louis Park appears in Class 2A Top 25
  • Read More
  • Champion versus champion

  • By Loren Nelson 01/16/2021, 10:45am CST
  • Showdown between defending state title holders Hill-Murray and Mahtomedi highlights busiest day of the season
  • Read More
  • Boom goes Boche

  • By Loren Nelson 01/15/2021, 4:30pm CST
  • Lakeville South senior Cam Boche scores five goals to highlight opening night
  • Read More