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Back to the Future

By Jeff Papas, 01/15/15, 1:03PM CST

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Looking at Cloquet’s Bantam AA hockey roster isn’t supposed to remind you of a Michael J. Fox movie — but if you liked the movie “Back to the Future,” you’ll get a kick out of this team.

In some ways, it’s like hitting a time warp and getting transferred back to the 1980s. All that’s missing is Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown’s DeLorean.

Coach Brian Durand’s son Brendan plays on the team, as does Marty Ketola’s son Cooper. Durand and Ketola were teammates at Cloquet High School and were part of Bill Kennedy’s 1981-82 Lumberjack team which eventually created five Division I college captains, including Corey Millen.

Drew Rasmussen’s son Gavin plays on the team, as does Landon Langenbrunner, a fact which has drawn his Olympian and Stanley Cup-winning father Jamie to the team as an assistant.

“Drew has lived in Little Falls for the last 10 years and now he’s home and that’s great,” Durand said. “But Langie (Langenbrunner) is a little younger than us.”

“It’s paying it forward,” Durand said of former Lumberjacks coaching their sons. “I think about this team and, back in the day when I played, Bruce Plante was the Bantam coach and we had some powerhouse teams. I’ve been with this team every year but one since Mites.”

“Last year Corey (Millen) gave me a hand because I had his son on the team,” he added. “That was helpful to have Luke on the team, so having Jamie and Drew and Scott Stoyanoff and others, it’s great to have the hockey guys together.”

And, to make it even better, this team is talented.

The top 10 Bantam hockey teams in Minnesota are very closely bunched together — and that list includes Cloquet, which was ranked eighth in the state in last week’s Let’s Play Hockey magazine ratings.

“We haven’t had a team that good in a while,” Durand said. “I don’t look at the rankings every day, but the kids sure do.”

After the New Year’s Edina Invitational — in which the team took third place out of 12 teams — Cloquet was 20-6 overall, with perhaps the best still to come.

“That Edina team is pretty good,” Durand said. “Jefferson beat them to win the tournament there and we beat Jefferson 2-0 a few weeks ago ourselves.”

It’s an example of how good the team can be.

“We’ve got a pretty good group,” Durand said. “We have a fairly high skill level generally speaking, we’ve had good teams in the past, and with the Michaud group sprinkled in a few years ago they were good too, but the skill groups don’t come along often. Almost all these kids are two- or three-sport athletes too, and are good.”

“Jon Baker, Ryan Nelson, Trevor Inman, those kids have also made us go,” Durand said. “We have a lot of 14-year-old kids, so by Bantam AA standards, we would be considered a young team.”

About half the team is made up of first-year players, but they don’t play like it. Durand is most proud of the third-place game in the Edina tournament, where Cloquet beat Wayzata.

“That was our second game of the day against a big and physical team that beat Edina 9-3 not long ago and we had lost to Edina just that morning,” Durand said. “It was good for our kids to come back in a second game and win against a good team. Wayzata has eight Bantam teams and lots of them are laden with second-year players. We have two.”

Another prize win was against Bloomington Jefferson, a team that has defeated teams in the top five and is just outside the top 10 itself. 

And they don’t even need a flux capacitor.