He's a familiar presence at tournament time as head coach of the Duluth East Greyhounds, leading them to 14 trips to St. Paul and winning state championships in 1995 and 1998. Mike Randolph has been the architect of one of Minnesota's most successful boys hockey programs and he looks back at the success he has had leading Duluth East.
Unlike many teams in Minnesota, Duluth East plays an independent schedule, taking on a number of the Twin Cities high quality teams including Wayzata, Edina and Lakeville North. "You don't learn from playing weak teams, you learn from playing the best," Randolph said. He also mentioned that most of the teams in the area are Class A teams. "We need to play Class AA teams."
Randolph's first state tournament trip as head coach was 1991, the final year of the one class tournament as well as the school's first state berth since 1975. They lost to Hill-Murray in the championship game. The experience according to Randolph was that the town was jumping.
Among the many players Randolph has coached was Dave Spehar, who scored a hat trick in all three games en route to the 1995 Class AA title.The Greyhound coach described the state title as his most memorable moment . The two still stay in touch. He also described Spehar as a very special player.
"This tournament is special to Dave as well as to myself," Randolph stated.
Another milestone in Randolph's coaching career was reaching the 500 career win mark. He looked back on the moment as awesome and very fortunate to have a great coaching staff and players.
Duluth East will lose 13 players to graduation after beating Wayzata in the third place game 7-3. Randolph commented on the future of the program by mentioning that a number of the East bantam players would be playing for rival Duluth Marshall. But the youth program is in good shape with the bantam and pee wee teams playing in the state tournament.
There could be trips to St. Paul in the years to come.