Minnesota High School Hockey Class AA
State Rankings (1-28-18)
Some big games led to some big blowouts. Depending on how you see it, that may be an unfortunate waste of great hockey, but to the victors go the spoils as it propels some up and others down. Let’s see how that shook up the Top 25!
1. Edina (18-1-0)
Last week’s rank: No. 1
vs. No. 4 Minnetonka – W 8-2
vs. No. 23 Eden Prairie – W 5-3
After sinking the Skippers from Minnetonka in commanding fashion on Thursday, the Hornets regain the top spot in this ranking and others that they held going into the season. Their lone blemish is still to Minnetonka which sets up the grudge match on Feb. 10th. Their offense is still top in the state, which allows them to win by just scoring more if their defense becomes suspect as it did against Eden Prairie who scored two shorthanded goals. Sammy Walker continues to lead the charge with 23 goals, 25 assists, and 48 points. Another two competitive teams await them in the coming week with Centennial and conference team Wayzata before finishing up the week against lowly Hopkins.
2. Duluth East (15-1-3)
Last week’s rank: No. 2
at Forest Lake – W 10-0
vs. Prior Lake – W 8-1
vs. Bloomington Jefferson – W 5-1
As many times I have seen St. Thomas in this slot I am shocked. Duluth East is feasting on lesser opponents but has the body of work to keep them at the two spot until they falter. Now this may change if St. Thomas beats Cretin-Derham Hall this week, but until then, the Hounds have earned my respect to keep them here. Garrett Worth is
generating serious buzz and a threat to Edina’s Sammy Walker as the Mr. Hockey favorite as he is now at 48 points off 32 goals and 16 assists. He will have the chance to prove it this coming weekend against No. 14 Elk River after continuing his domination against Anoka and Superior earlier in the week.
3. St. Thomas Academy (16-1-1)
Last week’s rank: No. 4
vs. South St. Paul – W 10-1
vs. Simley – W 7-1
Two more low skilled teams, two more blowout wins. As we near the end of the Cadet’s underbelly of their schedule, I will be interested to see how their defense holds up after more than a month of winning with relative ease. It will be put to the test Wednesday when they travel to the fellow St. Paul private school Cretin Derham-Hall in the game of the week. Add in two road games to Hill-Murray, who always plays St. Thomas tough, and Duluth Marshall and it could end up being a long and testy week the Cadets.
4. Minnetonka (15-2-2)
Last week’s rank: No. 1
at No. 1 Edina – L 8-2
at No. 11 Wayzata – W 5-0
It does pain me to have to drop the Skippers all the way from first to fourth after a rough loss and a commanding win. I debated if I move them to two, three, or four for a good hour before deciding it would be questionable not too due to Duluth East’s and St. Thomas Academy’s wins. By no means does this mean they are the fourth best team.
The top four are just so tight and competitive that they move down. Depending on how this week’s games at Benilde and Eden Prairie shake out, they could see themselves back in the top three.
5. Cretin-Derham Hall (16-2-1)
Last week’s rank: No. 6
vs. Forest Lake – W 4-3
at No. 6 Holy Family – W 10-1
Although they just snuck by a mediocre Forest Lake team, they get the push into the top five after taking Holy Family to the woodshed on their home ice. If sophomore Matthew Gleason was a senior, he would be making huge waves in Mr. Hockey conversations. But the fact that he is only a sophomore and still putting up 20 goals and 20 assists at this point in the season is amazing for team in this position. They cannot rest on their laurels, however, as they have another private school showdown against No. 3 St. Thomas on Wednesday. Is Cretin in your five? They’re in my five! Hopefully someone gets that reference…
6. Holy Family (14-3-1)
Last week’s rank: No. 5
vs. No. 5 Cretin-Derham Hall – L 10-1
Holy Family took two big L’s this week in the form of blocking a great follow like myself on Twitter (I am kidding) and an uncompetitive loss that makes Minnetonka’s loss to Edina look like an overtime thriller. They were up early in the game against Cretin, but head coach Noel Rahn said, “Mentally they were just not ready at puck drop. Effort was not there.” They only drop a spot because they are clearly one of the best of the rest outside of the top four, but if they start playing down to their next few opponents in Lakeville North and Blaine, we may have a new number six come Sunday.
7. White Bear Lake (14-3-2)
Last week’s rank: No. 7
vs. Mounds View – W 5-1
at East Ridge – W 5-1
White Bear all but has the number one seed in section 4AA locked up in what is usually one of the more competitive sections. Two more easy wins this week and only one game at Stillwater this week could have the Bears cruising into sections having not lost since losing 5-4 to No. 5 Cretin on January 20th.
8. Cloquet-Esko-Carlson (14-5-1)
Last week’s rank: No. 8
vs. Superior – W 4-2
They are running to stand still at this point in the season and probably will not move until their games against Hermantown and Duluth East in the coming weeks. I almost moved them down and put Moorhead here, as I feel they are hitting their stride at the right time. But in the end, I cannot justify a move like that when C-E-C has remained
9. Moorhead (15-6)
Last week’s rank: No. 10
at Roseau – W 3-0
vs. Rogers – W 4-1
After losing back to back games to Wayzata and Brainerd earlier in the month, Moorhead has been hitting their stride as mentioned above. They aren’t blowing anyone away offensively, but their defense has stepped up since those loses and defense can win championships or at least carry you pretty far. Even though they are winning, Carter Randklev is hurting in Mr. Hockey conversations due to the lack of offensive production. He has 35 points and has yet to reach 20 goals or assists, hampering his ability to become a top-tier candidate. So, all the northern hockey nuts can start to quiet down. Moorhead gets St. Cloud at home on Tuesday before heading to the Twin Cities to beat up on Bloomington Jefferson on Saturday.
10. Andover (15-4-0)
Last week’s rank: No. 11
vs. Blaine – W 3-2
vs. No. 16 Duluth Marshall – W 3-2
The Huskies are starting to become an enigma this season as no one can exactly pin down what to expect from them on a given night and this past week proved that. A very nice win over a ranked Duluth Marshall ended the week, but barely pulling it out over a Blaine team that has lost in blowouts against every top team it has played is raising
questions. I guess it really goes to show how great the top four-six teams in the state are in comparison to how much parity there is below them. Two games against competitive 5AA teams in Centennial and Maple Grove will provide interest to keep an eye on moving forward.
Next Five Teams In:
11. Wayzata (11-7-1)
Last week’s rank: No. 10
vs. Breck – W 4-1
vs. No. 4 Minnetonka – L 5-0
Another confusing team on this list are the Trojans. Just when you think they are starting to figure things out with wins against great teams, they go and lay a dud against a conference rival. They could still make noise come section time as we saw last year with them upending Edina in the finals to advance to state with a 10-17-1 record. Their mental fortitude will be put to the test when they host No. 1 Edina on Thursday and then make the trip up to the disappointment of the hockey year in Grand Rapids.
12. Centennial (11-4-3)
Last week’s rank: No. 12
vs. Maple Grove – W 4-2
With Section 5AA being somewhat down this year, the Cougs have found a way to all but lock up the top seed. Yet this week will provide some of their biggest challenges yet as they travel to face No. 1 Edina Tuesday before playing No. 10 Andover and Anoka later in the week. They will need at least two of those to be wins to prove there are a serious threat up top.
13. Brainerd (14-5)
Last week’s rank: No. 13
at Sartell – W 4-3
vs. Willmar – W 11-0
at Buffalo – W 3-0
Outside of their loss to No. 2 Duluth East, the Warriors are in a nice little groove. They get to travel up to the tundra of Roseau, but I do not foresee them dropping any unnecessary games in the coming week.
14. Elk River (13-6)
Last week’s rank: No. 15
at Anoka – W 6-0
Maybe, just maybe, they found their rhythm offensively. A nice 6-0 win over a team they were tested by earlier in the season gives them hope to play up to the better competition in their section and in the state. A cruising win over Blaine should be in store prior to travelling up to Duluth East on Saturday in a game I hope to get attend and get a recap out on. Here is to hoping we don’t have another blowout in a game I attend.
15. Eastview (15-4-0)
Last week’s rank: No. 16
at No. 21 Lakeville North – L 3-2
at No. 18 Eagan – W 4-3
New blood to cover! Sure, they lost to a team that is technically worse than them in Lakeville North, but prior to that they had won 10 straight and have a nice shot at locking up the second seed in Section 3AA. They should win their games over Burnsville and Farmington this week which only strengthens their positioning.
On the Outside Looking In:
Duluth Marshall (13-7-1), Rosemount (15-3), Eagan (13-5), St. Louis Park (11-5-2), Chaska (11-6), Lakeville North (8-8-1), Lakeville South (9-8-1), Eden Prairie (7-11-1), St. Michael-Albertville (12-5), Hill-Murray (7-8-4)
Another week of inconsistent play from this group of teams along with the addition of Duluth Marshall makes it an interesting few weeks for the fans. Outside of the Lakevilles who own the top seeds in Section 1AA, which is even ridiculously weaker than usual, most teams are eyeing three to five seeds for sections out of this group. That is not to say they won’t be able to make a run and give fits to the top teams in the sections, but do not go in with high hopes. Hill-Murray climbs back into the fold after finding some form of confidence in the last week.
Written by Jack Kewitsch / @JackKewitsch
Special to HockeyClan
Main Image: Charlie Schoen (25) of Andover slips a crucial goal past Duluth Marshall goalie Cam Brandt in a 3-2 win (Photo courtesy of @YouthHockeyHub)
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