Minnesota High School Hockey Class AA
State Rankings (1-21-18)
The hockey gods were kind to the top teams this week as the first seven teams on the list stayed in their respective slots. Yet after that, it is a mess. Movement galore as teams are beating up on each other left and right and losing in a continuous circle of confusion which is better than saying circle of suck, I guess. The nice thing is, these rankings are completely arbitrary. Even the official ones. It is all to give you a better feel as to who you should be seeing come March. Trying something new this week, as well. Since we are fast approaching section and state, I wanted to add who I believe sits in the No. 16-25 spots. This will give you an idea as to why this circle of confusion is the way that it is. So, the Top-10 has now become a Top-25 with a deeper look at the teams in the No. 11-15 slots because you can never get enough from the State of Hockey!
1. Minnetonka (14-1-2)
Last week’s rank: No. 1
vs. No. 19 Eden Prairie – W 6-3
No change up top this week, even as Duluth East continued to cruise through their schedule with some marquee opponents. Tonka only faced one opponent this week in Lake Conference rival Eden Prairie at home. They took care of the Eagles with more ease than the score-line shows as they went up 5-1 in the third before Eden Prairie cashed in
on a few garbage time goals. This may be the best scenario for the Skippers as their next game is already the most anticipated of the season so far when they travel to Edina to face the Hornets in a battle of top teams. This week’s light schedule should allow them to look ahead to that matchup, rest, and focus on shutting down Edina’s high-powered offense.
2. Duluth East (12-1-3)
Last week’s rank: No. 2
at Grand Rapids – W 3-1
vs. No. 13 Brainerd – W 4-1
vs. Roseau – W 10-3
After falling last week to Eden Prairie on the road, the Greyhounds refocused their energy on being the team they’ve been all season, a dominating defensive team that can explode offensively. In what was the most important match-up of the week, East silenced up and coming Brainerd and in turn showing this team has one of the best chances to go
deep at state. Mr. Hockey candidate Garrett Worth continues to rack up points as he now has a stat line of 27 goals, 9 assists, and 36 points after a five-goal eruption against Roseau. My main criticism of him is still true as he has not stepped up in the Hound’s biggest games after being shutout in the Eden Prairie loss and only tallying a point
against Brainerd. Three cakewalks for them next week when they take on Forest Lake, Prior Lake, and Bloomington Jefferson.
3. Edina (16-1-0)
Last week’s rank: No. 3
vs. No. 18 Lakeville South – W 4-1
at Hill-Murray – W 7-1
There seemed to be some tired, or at least uninterested, legs on Edina’s roster this week after starting slowly in both of their games. They went down 1-0 to Lakeville South after the first and allowed Hill-Murray to get a jump on them in the second. It did not take long for them to realize that is not how they play as they turned on the jets and found
continued their torrid streak of scoring. Sammy Walker (Sr.) continues to be the Mr. Hockey front-runner as he is now sitting at 20 goals, 22 assists, and 42 points. He is clearly the most well-rounded player in the state regardless of what some Northerners who believe Moorhead’s Carter Randklev deserves it say. Next week is big for the Hornets as they host top-ranked Minnetonka on Thursday and then their biggest rival in Eden Prairie on Saturday night.
4. St. Thomas Academy (14-1-1)
Last week’s rank: No. 4
at Tartan – W 5-1
vs. Bloomington Jefferson – W 7-0
vs. North St. Paul – W 7-1
Three games and three stupidly easy wins against teams they should not even be scheduling when possible. The Cadets could be serious threats if they make it to state, but until they prove their gumption like the top three have done up to this point, they will not be gaining any brownie points in this poll. South St. Paul and Simley await them
next week in two cupcakes that would stun the hockey community if they lost.
5. Holy Family (14-2-1)
Last week’s rank: No. 5
vs. Mound-Westonka – W 7-1
Almquist continues to prove his worth as a top Mr. Hockey candidate. Outside of that, there is nothing to take away from this week for the Fire. Movement within the polls may be coming though as Cretin-Derham Hall comes to town on the 27th in a proving ground for both squads.
6. Cretin-Derham Hall (14-2-1)
Last week’s rank: No. 6
at Woodbury – W 10-2
vs. No. 7 White Bear Lake – W 5-4
I am really high on this Raiders team. Since losing 5-2 to Edina on December 19 th, they have rattled off 10 straight wins and could begin to pose a serious threat to Edina in sections if the Hornets are not cautious. Adding a Top 10 win over White Bear Lake will continue to boost their status as one of the teams to watch. With sophomore Matthew
Gleason leading the way, the Raiders get to test their ranking against Holy Family next week.
7. White Bear Lake (12-3-2)
Last week’s rank: No. 7
vs. Forest Lake – W 3-2
at No. 6 Cretin-Derham Hall – L 5-4
Chase Hamsted (Sr.) has been the missing piece to the Bear’s success this season. Yes, they just lost a game to Cretin in which every shot seemed to go in, but they have played solidly against the best in state which is why they maintain their ranking at seven. And when Hamsted is on, they are more of a force to be reckoned with than usual. The next
few weeks should be a breeze for them entering sections where I would be extremely happy to see them in the final eight come March.
8. Cloquet-Esko-Carlton (13-5-1)
Last week’s rank: No. 9
vs. Grand Rapids – W 7-3
vs. Roseau – W 4-3
Jumping up solely off the loss Andover faced to Moorhead, CEC has held their own so far this season. Unless something drastic happens or other teams begin to heat up, I do not foresee them dropping or climbing. They host Superior and Forest Lake this week before travelling locally to Hermantown and Duluth East in the week after. It will be interesting to see if I have been too high on them after those games. Hopefully they prove me right.
9. Wayzata (10-6-1)
Last week’s rank: No. 14
vs. No. 14 Duluth Marshall – W 2-0
at No. 19 Eden Prairie – W 7-4
Don’t look now but the Trojans have built a horse, gifted it to Minnesota and quietly made themselves a contender in section 6AA. They won the section the last two years in similar fashion and adding wins over teams like Duluth Marshall and conference rival Eden Prairie puts them on the fast track to a good section seed.
10. Moorhead (13-6)
Last week’s rank: No. 15
vs. No. 11 Andover – W 3-1
at No. 12 Centennial – W 3-2 OT (in St. Cloud for Hockey Day Minnesota)
The Spuds, such a great name, get a massive boost in the rankings this week after beating last week’s number nine and ten teams. Another reason for the jump is I way over ranked Andover and Moorhead is going to be coming out of their section and to state. They are playing solid hockey with Carter Randklev leading the way in their overtime thriller over Centennial on TV for Hockey Day Minnesota.
Next Five Teams In:
11. Andover (13-4)
Last week’s rank: No. 8
at No. 10 Moorhead – L 3-1vs. Anoka – W 7-0
vs. No. 15 Elk River – W 4-1
I will be the first to admit I was overly confident in Andover’s abilities to compete with top teams. But can you blame me? They have an excellent offense that scores 5.12 goals a game and only allows 2.12. Add in a revenge victory over Elk River and this team could launch itself right back into the Top 10 in coming weeks. They will first have to face
Duluth Marshall team that is down but will provide a game that will be considered a near wash.
12. Centennial (10-4-3)
Last week’s rank: No. 10
at Blaine – W 3-2
vs. No. 10 Moorhead – L 3-2 OT (in St. Cloud for Hockey Day Minnesota)
Centennial’s main reason for dropping two is their 3-2 win over a Blaine team that is the doormat of the north metro this season. Yet somehow this team continues to hold its own against better opponents such as Moorhead. They get to face Maple Grove this next week, which is a team they beat with ease in their last meeting.
13. Brainerd (11-5)
Last week’s rank: No. 13
at Fergus Falls – W 4-0
at No. 2 Duluth East – L 4-1
They held their own against the Greyhounds despite what the score line says. Yet it doesn’t bode too well for them that they have already played the majority of their tougher competition this season. Yes, they should win their games over Sartell, Willmar, and Buffalo but a marquee win…or two…would do wonders for their confidence and
14. Duluth Marshall (12-6-1)
Last week’s rank: No. 12
at Duluth Denfeld – W 6-2
at No. 8 Wayzata – L 2-0
at Blake – W 6-2
Inconsistencies have begun to plague this team when they need leadership the most. With the numbers Grannis is putting up, there should never be a game they aren’t competitive in. But Wayzata proved you can shut down the entire Hilltopper team due to their lack of supporting cast for Gannis. A meeting with Andover this week will be the
test to watch because if they can secure a win it would have some implications on their seeding for sections.
15. Elk River (12-6)
Last week’s rank: No. 11
at Maple Grove – W 2-1
at Andover – L 4-1
Remember when the Elks were a scoring factory only a few weeks ago? Well that seems to have either been a short-lived streak or they have just completely lost their footing. They were the better team against Andover but being unable to put the puck in net has led to their questioning of who they are as a team.
On the Outside Looking In:
Eastview (14-3), Rosemount (13-3), St. Michael-Albertville (11-4), Eagan (12-4), St. Louis Park (10-5-2), Chaska (11-6), Lakeville North (6-8-1), Lakeville South (7-8-1), Eden Prairie (6-10-1), St. Cloud (12-5)
What makes my No. 16-25 teams special is their lack of consistency and their inability to close out games when it matters the most. From Eden Prairie’s win over top ranked Duluth East and losing conference games that mean the most to their season to Lakeville South’s blowout of Eden Prairie then losing four straight. All of these squads have issues many consider glaring. It is now or never to patch them up and try to make a deep run at a state berth. Keep an eye on Eastview, Eagan, and Rosemount as they are all going on decent runs but continue to somewhat shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to separating themselves from the others. Eastview at Eagan will be a key game to follow to see if one can assert themselves moving forward.
Main Image: Hockey Day Minnesota begins with its first game, St. Cloud Cathedral vs. St. Cloud. Cathedral won 8-3. (Photo courtesy of St. Cloud Police @StCloudPDMN)
Written by Jack Kewitsch / @JackKewitsch
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