Wednesday, January 30, 2008

MN HS Round-Up

The big story in Minnesota is that currently, it is fricken cold. With wind chills less than 30 below in most of the state, a lot of high school games were cancelled tonight. But it's been kind of a quiet week in college hockey, and there's plenty of high school games to talk about, so I figured now would be a good time for a quick round-up of what is happening in the state.

As a quick note, any rankings I mention come courtesy of the Follow the Puck Blog, which does a pretty thorough job of covering hockey in the state.

Roseau is the only undefeated team in Class AA, and remains ranked in the top spot. They had a convincing 8-0 win over rival Warroad tonight. The first Roseau/Warroad was on Fox Sports North, and I think a lot of people came away from that game with a false impression of Warroad. This isn't the Warriors best team, but they're still one of the strongest in Class A, and should definitely be in contention for one of the four seeds should they make the state tournament in St. Paul. Roseau is just that good that they made Warroad look like a bantam team. The Rams still have some tricky games on their schedule; they go to #19 Brainerd, play #12 Blaine on Baudette Bay as part of Hockey Day Minnesota, and play at International Falls, who is currently the top-ranked team in Class A. But I think the Rams will run the table at least until they get to the state tournament.

Perhaps the game of the season will take place on Thursday when #2 Edina takes on #3 Minnetonka. They're pretty clearly the two most talented teams in the Twin Cities area, and it should be a fun, fast-paced game.

Last week, Centennial took on Blaine in a battle of the top two teams in Section 5AA. Blaine avenged an early season loss to Centennial with a 5-3 win. Centennial dug themselves a deep hole with some shaky goaltending, and Blaine's powerplay looked much stronger than the Cougars'. It was an incredibly physical game, with a fight breaking out during the handshake line. If these two teams meet in the sectional final, and it looks like they will, it should be a great game.

Shattuck St. Mary's Prep team will be playing some high school teams this weekend. At 2:15 on Friday, at the Alltel Center in Mankato, Shattuck will take on #6 Benilde-St. Margaret's. Benilde is the only school to beat Edina so far this year.

The following evening, Shattuck will take on #15 Holy Angels. Last year's game between these two squads was one of the most intense of the year, with Holy Angels pulling off the upset.

Class A remains a giant mess. International Falls currently leads the pack with a 17-1-0 record. Their only loss was to Fort Frances of Ontario, and the Broncos avenged that loss Tuesday night with a convincing 7-1 victory. They've beaten a lot of good Class A schools, but haven't really dominated them, so there's definitely potential for an upset.

Of course, I Falls may not even make it to state, since they share a section with the #2 team in Class, Duluth Marshall. The two teams won't meet until a potential match-up in the section final.

Park Rapids, led by senior Zach Lehrke is an intriguing team. They're a perfect 19-0 on the season, but have played an incredibly weak schedule. They've beaten Thief River Falls and East Grand Forks, which should lock up the second seed in their section, but they'll be relatively unproven heading into a potential sectional final game against Warroad.

Section 1A continues to look like the deepest section in the state with #4 Mankato West #9 Albert Lea #10 Red Wing #13 New Prague and #15 Rochester Lourdes. Mankato West has blown out everyone they've played so far, except for a single loss in Albert Lea. Since losing to International Falls over Christmas, Albert Lea has been incredibly hot. They have depth that few Class A teams can match. Mankato West and Rochester Lourdes will meet this Thursday in a game that should have a huge impact on sectional seeding.


Anonymous said...

If your Coach Lucia, and your coaching a desperate hockey team right now, why would you cancel practice during a week in which you have a rival coming in to go scout in Northern MN? Aren't any of our assistants good enough to run a practice?

Anonymous said...

Hill was a head coach. A sleezebag, but still a former head coach.

Anonymous said...

I should say former WCHA head coach.

EdinaRocks said...

The top half of Minnesota HS teams are just as good if not better than AAA hockey teams both in Canada and the US. I williing to bet the best team in the state could beat any AAA team in Canada or the US.


Anonymous said...

Coaches give an extra day off from time to time for a variety of reasons. The Gophers just played a series against their school's top rival and it was a pretty physical series. Maybe he felt an extra day of rest was necessary for his team to be ready for an upcoming series that will probably be pretty physical as well. He obviously has a better handle on the situation than any of us. If they needed another day of rest, why not give it to them?

Anonymous said...

Cancel practice? How do you know practice was cancelled? Most of the time the assistants run the practice drills, so there is really no problem there. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

MN High School hockey in general is not as good as Canadian Midget AAA. Some players a whole team, not really. Shattuck may be as good as most USA AAA teams, because they get the top notch players from USA, Europe and Canada (only 2).

Chris said...

Shattuck's games this weekend should give you a decent indication of how MN high schools stack up, since Shattuck is one of the better AAA programs in the country.

The other comparison to look at is the Elite League. Russell Stover won the Elite League's end of season tournament, though an Elite League team won the National Invitational over some good AAA teams. I think the Elite League teams are generally a little more talented than a top high school team, but also don't have as much teamwork and chemistry.

Anonymous said...

Giving your players a "day off" is sometimes better than a practice anyway, espcially if your players do not really like playing for you.

Tornado Towers said...

Well the players on the 1980 Olympic team hated Herb Brooks. Guess things worked out OK for them though.

The totally unsubstantiated statements that the Gopher players don't like Coach Lucia are hilarious. How about providing some concrete evidence instead of coming onto a comment section and anonymously lying. Anybody can do that, especially a nobody.