Howie’s Hockey Notebook: The Bests of the Best

There’s no question that former Duluth Marshall great Phil Hoene will
forever be known as one of Duluth’s best high school hockey players of

‘Phantom’ Phil, who once scored three goals in 27 seconds against
Duluth East in a regionally televised game at the Duluth Arena, led
the Hilltoppers to four straight Minnesota Catholic state
championships. He later starred for the Bulldogs and played in the
National Hockey League for the Los Angeles Kings.

A few other local high school puck greats who I either played against
or have covered during a lengthy sports writing career:

Steve ‘Pokey’ Trachsel, Duluth Marshall – An ultra-elite, rugged
defenseman who played on five straight Catholic state championship
teams. He later scored five goals in a single game for the Bulldogs in

Gary Fritch, Duluth Central – A tremendously-gifted defenseman and
baseball pitcher for the Trojans, and later at Wisconsin-Superior
(1972-76) where he was a college division All-American in hockey.

Corey Millen, Cloquet – The Lumberjacks’ first hockey superstar, a
short, stocky centerman who later starred for the University of
Minnesota and played for five teams in the National Hockey League from

Derek Plante, Cloquet – Played eight seasons in the National Hockey
League and won a Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999. Resides in

Jamie Langenbrunner, Cloquet – Won Stanley Cups with 1999 Dallas Stars
and 2003 New Jersey Devils, and served as captain of the 1980 U.S.
Olympic team.

Scott Van Dame, Superior – Starred as high-scoring forward for
Wisconsin-Superior, where he still holds the program all-time
goal-scoring record with 102 goals from 1974-78.

Neal Pionk, Hermantown – Currently a top-two defenseman for the New
York Rangers, following strong careers for the Hawks and Bulldogs. An
unrestricted free agent with the Blueshirts who is expected to nab a
$6 million-plus annually multi-year deal sometime this spring or
summer. A responsible guess: $6.2 per for six years = $36

Derek Forbort, Duluth East – Current Los Angeles Kings defender who is
also due a large, third contract with his club as an unrestricted free
agent after the 2019-20 season. Expect the Kings to extend Forbort’s
current $2.5-plus million annual contract sometime this summer,
pushing him up into the $4.7-plus million range for up to six years.


Best Pure-Goal Scorers – (tie) Brett Hull, Bulldogs, NHL, ’02 U.S.
Olympic Team; Mark Pavelich, Eveleth, Bulldogs, N.Y. Rangers, ’80 U.
S. Olympic Team

Best Assist Guy – Mas Fukushima, Wisconsin-Superior

Toughest Player  – Guy ‘Goose’ Gosselin, Bulldogs defenseman

Best College Coach – Mike Sertich, Bulldogs

Best High School Coach – Brendan Flaherty, Duluth Marshall

Best High School Referees – Mickey Farrell, Hank Jensen, Jim Trachsel

Best High School Boys Hockey Uniforms – Duluth Marshall late 1960’s,
early ‘70’s sweaters (featuring the big state championship stars)

Best Barn to Watch a High School Hockey Game – Cloquet’s Pine Valley
Ice Shelter, ‘da original barn with was built in the summer of 1971 at
a cost of approximately $35,000 (plus donated labor and supplies)

Best Hockey Scribes — Bill Brophy and Kevin Pates, Duluth News Tribune

Best Hockey Play-By-Play Announcer, Radio and Television — Marsh
Nelson, KDAL 610 Radio, TV

Hardest-Working Hockey Coach — Dale Jago, Duluth Denfeld

Best Young, Developing High School Boys Hockey Player — Cloquet
sophomore defenseman Mason Langenbrunner, an ultra-elite National
Hockey League prospect

Budding Hockey Play-by-Play Announcer — My 9’s Zach Schneider, an
ultra-elite rising star with National Hockey League play-by-play

Nicest Hockey Player on the Planet — Former Bulldogs defenseman Tom
Kurvers, who’s battling cancer

Best High School Boys Hockey Game I’ve Covered – Duluth East’s 5-4,
five-overtime loss against Apple Valley in the Class 2A state
semifinal in 1976. Just for fun, here’s a YouTube link to the state
tourney classic:


This article was written and contributed to CBS 3 Duluth by Howie Hanson.  Hanson’s views are independent of those at CBS 3, and are not shared by the station.  Watch for Hanson’s weekly articles every Thursday night as part of CBS 3 Duluth’s high school hockey coverage. 

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Krystal Frasier

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