Minnesota High School Hockey Class AA State Sectional Tournament Update

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Sections are now in their final week, and there have been some intriguing games and storylines that have blossomed from the last week. With all but two sections having played their semifinals, we have a much better idea of who will make the trek to the Xcel Energy Center and what the potential seeding could be come Sunday.

Section 1AA:

Semifinals – 2/24 at Rochester Rec Center
Finals – 3/1 at Rochester Rec Center

1. Lakeville North (14-10-2, No. 19)

This section is still weak when all things are considered. North took a period to find their groove before they comfortably beat the 8-seed Hastings 6-2. Owatonna could provide a challenge, but expect to see Lakeville North in the section final Thursday.

2. Rochester Century (21-4-1)

They took care of their business against Rochester John Marshall 8-0, but now get the pleasure of facing Lakeville South in the semis. Of the two matchups in this section, this one should provide a nice dose of defense and be the highlight to watch Tuesday night.

3. Lakeville South (13-11-2, No. 24)

If they beat Century, I do not think it is worthy of calling an upset. They have played a decently difficult schedule all year and this is where it should pay off. Look for the all-Lakeville final once again.

4. Owatonna (13-11-2)
5. Farmington (7-19) – Lost 3-2 to Owatonna in quarterfinals
6. Rochester Mayo (12-13-1) – Lost 3-2 to Lakeville South in quarterfinals
7. Rochester John Marshall (6-17-3) – Lost 8-0 to Rochester Century in quarterfinals
8. Hastings (6-20-1) – Lost 6-2 to Lakeville North in quarterfinals
9. Dodge County (13-13) – Lost 7-0 to Hastings in play-in game

Brady Ziemer (2) of Holy Family Catholic jumps into the arms of teammates after Joe Hankinson scored against Prior Lake on Feb. 24 at Braemar Ice Rink in Edina, MN. Holy Family defeated Prior Lake, 5-2, to reach another section final. (Jack Kewitsch/HockeyClan)

Section 2AA:

Finals – 2/28 at Mariucci Arena

1. Minnetonka (23-2-2, No. 1)​

The Skippers have not faced much adversity during sections as other teams around the state may have. They beat up on Shakopee in the quarters 8-0 and then handled Chaska, who upset Eden Prairie 5-4 in OT in the quarters, 4-1 in a game that was never really in question. The real story so far in this section isn’t Tonka, but Chaska making it to this
point who has typically been a bottom feeder their entire existence.

2. Holy Family (23-3-1, No. 6)

Another team that has yet to face adversity, Holy Family will try to make it to their first ever state tournament if they can get around Minnetonka’s physical play and upset the top-seeded Skippers. It will take more than what they have provided so far in 6-0 and 5-2 wins over Chanhassen and Prior Lake. “We can’t get complacent, we have to focus on
what has gotten us here” senior forward and Mr. Hockey finalist Ben Almquist told me. Expect them to come into Mariucci Wednesday with a mindset of revenge and teamwork after goaltender Conan Hayton took a cheap shot late in the game against Prior Lake. If anything, it will be arguably the game of the week with the ice at Mariucci being Olympic size and head coach Noel Rahn was optimistic when asked about it, “the good thing is we played there last year so we have a little bit of an understanding of how that rink operates and how we need to adjust our style.”

3. Prior Lake (11-16) – Lost 5-2 to Holy Family in semifinals
4. Eden Prairie (10-15-1, No. 22) – Lost 5-4 OT to Chaska in quarterfinals
5. Chaska (18-9, No. 20) – Lost 4-1 to Minnetonka in semifinals
6. New Prague (11-12-3) – Lost 5-3 to Prior Lake in quarterfinals
7. Chanhassen (9-16-1) – Lost 6-0 to Holy Family in quarterfinals
8. Shakopee (6-19-1) – Lost 8-0 to Minnetonka in quarterfinals

Minnetonka on the fast break in a game against Wayzata on January 27, 2018. (Jack Kewitsch HockeyClan)

Section 3AA:

Finals – 3/1 at Braemar Arena

1. St. Thomas Academy (24-2-1, No. 3)

The Cadets are rolling and wanting to prove everyone in the state that they can finally make it to a state final as a Class AA team. They rolled over East Ridge 5-0 and Burnsville 9-2 in no contests, and Eastview shouldn’t put up much of a fight even as the two seed.

2. Eastview (23-4, No. 12)

They struggled to beat the 7-seed Bloomington Jefferson in the quarterfinals 5-4, but handled Rosemount 4-0 in the semis. If they get the play they saw in the semis against STA, they could be headed to St. Paul. Do not expect that happen unless they are all 100% on their game. The Cadets are too fast and too strong across the board and playing
with no fear.

3. Rosemount (21-5-1, No. 16) – Lost 4-0 to Eastview in semifinals
4. Burnsville (11-16) – Lost 9-2 to St. Thomas Academy in semifinals
5. Eagan (14-10-2) – Lost 5-3 to Burnsville in quarterfinals
6. Apple Valley (11-15) – Lost 3-2 to Rosemount in quarterfinals
7. Bloomington Jefferson (10-15-1) – Lost 5-4 to Eastview in quarterfinals
8. Cottage Grove (9-15-2) – Lost 4-3 to East Ridge in play-in
9. East Ridge (14-13) – Lost 5-0 to St. Thomas Academy in quarterfinals

Related: Minnesota High School Hockey Class AA Sectional Playoff Preview

Section 4AA:

Semifinals – 2/27 and 2/28 at Aldrich Arena
Finals – 3/2 at Aldrich Arena

1. White Bear Lake (21-3-2, No. 7)

Yes, it is just the quarterfinals, but beating the 8-seed 4-2 is the exact reason I do not have faith in this section to go far in the state tournament. It is mediocre and had not provided anything of substance. The Bears get Tartan Tuesday night and should take care of business.

2. Hill-Murray (11-11-4, No. 25)

Stillwater awaits them after they barely beat Irondale 4-2. This is a toss-up as the two are basically cousins this year in terms of ineptitude. Who will we see Friday at Aldrich? Nobody knows.

3. Stillwater (13-12-1)

As mentioned above, the Ponies have been a head-scratcher this season but have a chance to put themselves in position to make it back to state this season. It won’t be easy, but they have the team to do it.

4. Tartan (18-7-1)
5. Mounds View (7-18-1) – Lost 2-1 to Tartan in quarterfinals
6. North St. Paul (11-12-2) – Lost 6-0 to Stillwater in quarterfinals
7. Irondale (11-12-3) – Lost 4-2 to Hill-Murray in quarterfinals
8. Roseville (5-22) – Lost 4-2 to White Bear Lake in quarterfinals
9. Woodbury (5-20-1) – Lost 4-1 to Roseville in play-in

Section 5AA:

Finals – 3/1 at Aldrich Arena​

1. Centennial (18-6-3, No. 14)

Maybe, just maybe, the Cougs are getting back into the dangerous form that I have written about in the past. They have blanked both opponents in section play so far and could do so again against an underwhelming Maple Grove squad to become a dangerous team in the state tournament.

2. Maple Grove (12-11-3)

It hasn’t been the prettiest road to the section final, but they’re there. They struggled to beat an under .500 Blaine team and will not get a reprieve against Centennial Thursday evening. They could pull the upset or at least make it interesting, but I doubt it.

3. Blaine (10-14-3) – Lost 3-2 to Maple Grove in the semifinals
4. Champlin Park (13-11-2) – Lost 5-0 to Anoka in quarterfinals
5. Anoka (9-14-4) – Lost 4-0 to Centennial in semifinals
6. Spring Lake Park (11-14-1) – Lost 6-4 to Blaine in quarterfinals
7. Osseo (6-20) – Lost 4-0 to Maple Grove in quarterfinals
8. Coon Rapids (5-21) – Lost 9-0 to Centennial in quarterfinals

Minnesota High School players up for the “Mr. Hockey” award this season.

Related: “Mr. Hockey” Finalists and Snubs

Section 6AA:

Finals – 2/28 at Mariucci Arena

1. Edina (25-2, No. 2)

And the Wayzata Curse has the chance to strike for the third time in as many years. Giles and Co. will have their hands full as they have in both of their matchups against the Trojans this season. They have all the tools to overcome the hump, but as I keep hammering away, this is sections and anything can happen…especially on an Olympic
sized sheet that Wayzata has slightly more experience playing on. There are also a few concerns after looking unenthusiastic against Armstrong in a 5-1 win. They then put away St. Louis Park, who was coming off a dramatic victory 2-1 over Benilde who shares their home ice. Expect the final to be physical and demanding.

2. Cretin-Derham Hall (21-4-2, No. 5)

Is it bad if I say I was not surprised that Wayzata beat Cretin? I mean, I would have loved to have another game to cover this young and skilled team. But the Trojans were just too much for them and they became the first one/two seed to falter this section season. They will be back again next year with a more experienced group that could vie for a top spot in section or state.

3. Wayzata (16-10-1, No. 13)

Watch out. Tell me if you have seen this storyline before? An up and down Wayzata team sneaks into the section final against a top-tier Edina squad. It could be a game for the ages with both teams looking to prove they belong back in the spotlight. They will try to smack the Hornets around all night and tire them out and if they can get ahead early it could lead to signs of good fortune.

4. Benilde-St. Margaret’s (12-12-2) – Lost 2-1 to St. Louis Park in quarterfinals
5. St. Louis Park (16-9-2, No. 21) – Lost 6-1 to Edina in semifinals
6. Blake (16-9-1) – Lost to Wayzata 5-3 in quarterfinals
7. Academy of Holy Angels (11-13-2) – Lost 7-0 to Cretin-Derham Hall in quarterfinals
8. Armstrong/Cooper (11-14-2) – Lost 5-1 to Edina in quarterfinals
9. Hopkins (6-20) – Lost 3-2 to Armstrong in play-in

Section 7AA:

Finals – 3/1 at Amsoil Arena

1. Duluth East (22-2-3, No. 4)

Coming into section play, I was not completely sold on the Greyhounds. I personally believed any team in this section, for the most part, could hang with them and hand them an upset. Those thoughts are long gone now after they completely dismantled Grand Rapids 6-0 and Duluth Marshall 9-1. Andover awaits them next, but this is
practically a home game for the Hounds as they are playing a mile from their usual arena and it is a haul for Andover to get up to Duluth.

2. Andover (22-5, No. 8)

After shutting out St. Francis 7-0, the Huskies needed an early overtime goal to send them to the section championship against Duluth East. Their 6-5 win over Elk River seemed to involve defense being optional. Nevertheless, they got the job done and proved that using computer rankings from QRF in sections is a success. With the win, they also added to the house of horrors Amsoil has been for Elk River as the Elks are now 2-8 all-time in the arena.

3. Elk River (19-8, No. 15) – Lost 6-5 to Andover in semifinals
4. Cloquet-Esko-Carlton (17-8-1, No. 11) – Lost 6-4 to Duluth Marshall in quarterfinals
5. Duluth Marshall (17-8-2, No. 17) – Lost 9-1 to Duluth East in semifinals
6. Forest Lake (14-11-1) – Lost 9-1 to Elk River in quarterfinals
7. St. Francis (14-12) – Lost 7-0 to Andover ins quarterfinals
8. Grand Rapids (7-19-1) – Lost 6-0 to Duluth East in quarterfinals
9. Cambridge/Isanti (4-22) – Lost 9-2 to Grand Rapids in play-in​

Duluth and Elk River stand for The National Anthem. (Jack Kewitsch HockeyClan)

Section 8AA:

Finals – 2/28 at Thief River Falls/St. Cloud/Bemidji

1. Moorhead (20-7, No. 9)

Another team that is getting hot at the right moment, like Centennial, the Spuds have blanked Rogers 12-0 and St. Cloud 5-0 in their first two section meetings. They could be upset by St. Michael, but fans of good hockey and blueblood programs will be pulling for Moorhead to make it back to state to try and finally win their first state championship.

2. St. Michael-Albertville (22-5, No. 18)

They probably won’t beat Moorhead after allowing Buffalo and Brainerd to hang around, but they could prove some excitement after having a superb season. Their top line with Adam Flammang (42 points) and Luc Laylin (38 points) will need to have the game of their lives if they want to make it to St. Paul.

3. Brainerd (20-7, No. 10) – Lost 4-2 to STMA in semifinals
4. St. Cloud (19-8) – Lost 5-0 to Moorhead in semifinals
5. Roseau (13-12-1) – Lost 7-1 to St. Cloud in quarterfinals
6. Bemidji (10-16) – Lost 4-1 to Brainerd in quarterfinals
7. Buffalo (13-13) – Lost 5-3 to STMA in quarterfinals
8. Rogers (8-18) – Lost 12-0 to Moorhead in quarterfinals

 

Written by Jack Kewitsch / @JackKewitsch 

Special to HockeyClan

 

Main Image: Holy Family Catholic celebrates in front of their fans after reaching another section final with a 5-2 victory over Prior Lake on Feb. 24 at Braemar Ice Rink in Edina, MN. (Jack Kewitsch/HockeyClan)

 

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