Breaking Down the Minnesota High School Hockey Top 10

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2018 has already opened to some interesting match-ups leading to some interesting results. Throw in an upset or two and you have the first Top-10 Class AA for the New Year as I would vote if I was a coach or AP voter.

Four teams – Duluth East, Edina, Minnetonka, and St. Thomas Academy – have proven themselves up to this point in the season making the list top-heavy with a sizable gap between them and everyone else.

Minnesota High School Hockey Class AA State Rankings

Top-ranked Duluth East celebrates a goal against Minnetonka on January 6. Duluth East prevailed by a 4-2 score. (Photo courtesy of Drew Herron/ Sportsengine

1. Duluth East (8-0-3)

Last week’s rank: #4

Game Results:
at Stillwater – W 4-1
at Minnetonka – W 4-2

Needing a marquee win after tying three of the better opponents in the state, the Greyhounds found their rhythm by taking down a decent Stillwater team before heading to the uniquely-designed Pagel Activity Center to face the top-ranked and previously-undefeated Minnetonka Skippers. The Hounds, which have leaned on defense all season, were able to use their physicality to sneak out of the Twin Cities with a 4-2 win. I would still place Minnetonka and Edina above them, but their undefeated record deserves respect, so they get the nod this week. A note of interest is they avoid playing Edina and St. Thomas Academy this season which should make for an interesting state tournament if all three can make it. Look for them to win all three of their match-ups this week with games against Duluth Denfield and struggling early-season darlings Grand Rapids and Eden Prairie.

2. Minnetonka (11-1-2)

Last week’s rank: #1

Game Results:
at Orono – W 5-1
vs. Duluth East – L 4-2

The Skippers only drop a spot this week after succumbing to Duluth East at home for their first loss of the season. It would be absurd to drop them any lower due to their wins over Edina and St. Thomas Academy (they have also tied St. Thomas) and their lack of leading scorer, Josh Luedtke, for the Duluth East game. “Tonka” should secure two more wins this week with games against Blaine and Class A power Hermantown. Neither should be too much of an issue for Tonka, but the games should remain competitive until the later periods.

3. Edina (12-1-0)

Last week’s rank: #3

Game Results:
vs. Burnsville – W 6-1
vs. White Bear Lake – W 4-3 OT
vs. Holy Angels – W 9-0

As most reading this know, Edina is the team I follow the most. I am an alum, live close to Braemar Arena, and they provide damn good hockey to watch. So, it is no surprise that I have some bias and heavy interest in the Hornets. With that being said, the Hornets keep their ranking at #3 this week after two dominating performances over Burnsville and Holy Angels and a win overcoming adversity against White Bear Lake in overtime. They only play one game this week, a Saturday night match-up against Blaine, which is a team that plays tough against many top teams.

4. St. Thomas Academy (9-1-1)

Last week’s rank: #2

Game Results:
vs. Mahtomedi – W 3-1

Oh, sorry. Some of my bias is showing. With Duluth East’s win over Minnetonka propelling them up from #4 to #1, the Cadets get the brunt of my opinions. This stems from their win over a good Class A team in Mahtomedi alongside their needing of overtime to beat Eden Prairie in the Schwan’s Cup Gold tournament, who they get again on Tuesday, and lacking a statement win over a top-ranked team. The last point being really important as they may not have a chance to get one unless Cretin-Derham Hall or Hill-Murray mount serious conversations for the top-five in the coming weeks. However, the Cadets should continue rolling this week with home match-ups versus Eden Prairie and Hastings.

5. Holy Family (12-2-1)

Last week’s rank: #6

Game Results:
at Greenway – W 7-1
at Grand Rapids – W 5-1

The Fire move up a spot from last week’s rankings due to the falling of other teams and their own ability to put away teams that they should easily have beaten, which they did. Edina proved victorious at the beginning of the season putting them on the outside looking in and if it weren’t for their section that includes Minnetonka and Eden Prairie, the team would have a chance to make it to states for the first time in school history. Although their opponent this week in Lakeville South beat Eden Prairie last week, Holy Family should put them away in their only game this week.

6. Cretin-Derham Hall (10-2-1)

Last week’s rank: #8

Game Results:
vs. East Ridge – W 3-0
at Roseville – W 6-1

Cretin moves up two spots this week only due to losses by White Bear Lake and Centennial and there is not much to note besides winning every game since a 5-2 setback to Edina on December 19th. Expect them to keep the streak alive against Stillwater and Park of Cottage Grove this week.

7. Duluth Marshall (10-3-1)

Last week’s rank: Not Ranked (NR)

Game Results:
at Superior (WI) – W 6-2
vs. Maple Grove – W 4-1

Welcome to the Top-10 Duluth Marshall! Don’t disappoint us. Losses to Minnetonka and Duluth East is what has held them back so far this season, but they have the wins to be on this list with triumphs over Brainerd and Maple Grove. Two away games are on the schedule for the Hilltoppers against Cloquet and Champlin Park. Expect competitive contests, but wins for Duluth Marshall.

8. Elk River (10-4-0)

Last week’s rank: NR

Game Results:
vs. Andover – W 5-1
at Blaine – W 3-0

Elk River is on a bit of a roll, winning their last four games in convincing fashion. However, a lack of top-tier wins puts them in an awkward position to prove themselves in the coming weeks. Look for them to capitalize on another match-up versus Centennial to try and justify this ranking, but with Centennial slipping I am unsure how to value the weight of a potential win. Even if they lose, the Elks will still be able to prove themselves later in the season and make a run at their first state appearance since 2005.

9. White Bear Lake (8-2-2)

Last week’s rank: #5

Game Results:
at Edina – L 4-3 OT
vs. Rochester Century – L 3-1

A big game hangover appeared to be the case for a previously-unbeaten Bears team. Entering the week, they were able to crack the Top-5, but faltered in surprising fashion after being highly touted for their defense in my previous write-up. A heartbreaking loss to Edina on Thursday night where they forced overtime was just the start as they then welcomed Century to town and ended up losing — something not a lot of pundits saw coming. It’ll be a busy week for White Bear as they play Stillwater, Cretin-Derham Hall and Woodbury. Place your bets on them winning at least two of the games, but slipping against either Stillwater or Cretin.

10. Centennial (8-3-2)

Last week’s rank: #7

Game Results:
vs. Brainerd – W 5-2
at Maple Grove – W 5-1
at Andover – L 6-1

A few may think that this drop in ranking is uncalled for as the Cougars beat competitive opponents Brainerd and Maple Grove. But losing handily to a mediocre Andover team, which is playing worse than what their record says (10-3), pushes Centennial down to the fringe of the list. The Cougars do get two home games this week with Anoka and Elk River. It will be interesting to see how they perform against a cruising Elk River in one of the games of the week.

Duluth East defeated Minntonka, 4-2, on Saturday, January 6 to claim the top ranking in Minnesota State High School Hockey. (Photo courtesy of Drew Herron/Sportsengine)

 

Next Five Teams in (Record):
Moorhead (10-5-0), Brainerd (8-4-0), Stillwater (7-3-0), Wayzata (6-6-1),
Eden Prairie (5-6-1)

Dropping out of the Top 10 (Last Week’s Rank):
Moorhead (9), Eden Prairie (10)

 

Main Image: Duluth East defeated previous No.1 Minnetonka, 4-2, at Pagel Activity Center on January 6, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Drew Herron/Sportsengine)

 

Written by Jack Kewitsch / @JackKewitsch 

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