A crazy season has led to top teams battling to be considered as the best team in the state of hockey. Although there may not be a clear number one team, it's fair to say the following teams below all have the capability of ending up victorious at the end of Minnesota's Trek to the X.
- - - AA - - -
1. Hill-Murray (12-2-0)
As of lately, the team to beat in the state of Minnesota is the Hill-Murray Pioneers. The Pioneers started the season with a nine game winning streak until Edina and Lakeville North issued two losses on the road in early January, but they came back to beat Edina just a week later, shutting the Hornets out 6-0.
The Pioneers have two college-committed players rostered in St. Cloud State recruit Mitch Slattery and Minnesota Duluth recruit Joey Anderson. Senior Slattery leads the team with 26 points, while freshman Anderson is at 3rd on the scoring list with 21 points.
2. Lakeville North (14-3-1)
Currently sporting a 12-game unbeaten streak, the Panthers have triumphed over big opponents, like Hill-Murray for example. Lakeville North will be tested this Saturday as they take on Burnsville away from home ice, which should be a great matchup.
Led by the Poehling twins, Jack and Nick have a combined 57 points, including a tally of 15 goals by Jack. The Panthers are averaging 4.82 goals per game while exhibiting a power play at a lethal 29%.
3. Edina (12-4-0)
The Hornets have the best team in the state on paper, but have been plagued with inconsistency on the road. Edina is perfect while playing on their own, or neutral ice, but are just 2-4-0 on the road. The Hornets will continue to battle a very difficult schedule taking on Wayzata on the road this Saturday in hopes to improve a record showing two losses in their last three outings.
Edina was represented well on the NHL Central Scouting Midterm Rankings, which included Ohio State recruit Tyler Nanne (168), senior Miguel Fidler (180), and Notre Dame recruit Dylan Malmquist. Those three individuals take three of the top four spots within Edina's top scorers.
4. Burnsville (11-4-0)
The Blaze have been on fire this season, using a loss against Edina to build momentum and a 4-game winning streak to prove it, including a triumph over the Hornets. Like stated above, Burnsville will host Lakeville North on Hockey Day Minnesota.
Wisconsin Recruit Brock Boeser leads the team with 13 goals and 16 assists for 29 points, followed by 6-foot senior Cole Borchardt with 26 points, all within Burnsville's 15 games.
5. Wayzata (11-4-0)
Wayzata was on a roll until they met Hill-Murray last Thursday, January 9th, and fell in a tight 3-2 game on the road. Before that, the Trojans last lost came from Burnsville, but wasn't issued since December 7th, leaving the Trojans 7-1-0 in their last eight outings.
The Trojans are defensively sound, allowing just 1.60 goals per game complimented by an outstanding 92.5% penalty kill. Junior Vaughn Ahrens mans the net for Wayzata, earning two shutouts in 12 games thus far. Also rostered is Wisconsin recruit Matthew Freytag, who sits behind Max Zimmer and Jack Sorensen in scoring with 16 points.
HS Hockey Must Reads
Nebraska Omaha Rich With MN Talent
With Nebraska-Omaha landing their most recent verbal commitment in Duluth East senior Phil Beaulieu, the future looks saturated with talented Minnesotans for the Mavericks.
HS Hockey Must Reads
- - - A - - -
1. Hermantown (12-2-0)
With only two losses on the year to AA teams in Wayzata and Eagan, the Hawks have prepared a fantastic argument for the position of first place within single A. Hermantown hosts Bemidji this Saturday in hopes to extend their win-streak to five games, followed by Proctor and then White Bear Lake on January 24th.
The Hawks have three players rostered who have reached 20+ points thus far; junior Nate Pionk (26 points), Ryan Kero (25 points), and senior Scott Wasbotten (23 points) have each contributed to Hermantown's high impressive scoring average of 5.86 goals per game. Between the pipes, senior Jace Thomas is sporting a perfect 8-0-0 record with three shutouts.
2. Breck (10-3-1)
The Mustangs, who've trekked to the X every year for the last five years, have gone out of their comfort zone to play a few AA opponents, including both Edina and Duluth East. Breck will look to keep the wins flowing this Friday when they host Duluth Marshall.
With the help of Mustang top scorer, sophomore Chase Ellingson (7-18=25), Breck is averaging over five goals per game and a power play at 36.7%. Senior Michael Orke (24 points) and sophomore Will Blake (20 points) trail Ellingson in Breck's scoring race.
3. Warroad (13-2-1)
With just two close losses against Grand Rapids and Bemidji, the Warriors have proven to be capable of skating with some of the best. With another battle against rival Roseau and East Grand Forks on the menu, Warroad can't take a break quite yet.
The Warriors possess arguably the best line in all of Minnesota High School Hockey in Minnesota Duluth recruits Kobe Roth and Jared Bethune, and 5-foot-11 senior Kyle Sylvester. Roth (61 points), Bethune (59 points), and Sylvester (55 points) hold the top three spots on Minnesota's top scoring list and alone average 4.68 goals per game in Warroad's 16 games.
4. East Grand Forks (12-2-1)
The Green Wave has developed into a tidal wave this season and started off the year with three straight shutouts against Park Rapids (5-0), Totino-Grace (4-0), and Grand Forks Central (3-0). East Grand Forks' losses were to Breck and Notre Dame, in games the Green Wave failed to score in.
Sophomore Grant Loven and junior Reed Corbid have each contributed 20 points to East Grand Forks' average of 3.47 goals per game, but their goals against average of just 1.47 per game is what stands out.
5. New Prague (11-2-2)
Despite starting the year off with some trouble, the Trojans have bounced back in remarkable fashion, riding a 7-game winning streak. Over that period of time, New Prague has outscored opponents 28 to 12, including a 10-1 rout at Red Wing in their last outing.
The Trojans have proven very dangerous while on the man-advantage, sporting a power play at 36.5%. Led by seniors Augie Isaacson and Seth Kriha, New Prague is averaging 4.27 goals per game.
HS Must Reads
College Committed Players
Both Minnesota Duluth and Nebraska Omaha have received verbal commitments from four players that are rostered on a Minnesota High School team. Of the 20 division one commits, seven have elected to stay within the state of hockey and play for one the five programs the state offers. Below is a spreadsheet with each committed athlete descending based on point-per-game production.
|Kobe Roth||F||11||Warroad||16||31||30||61||3.81||Minnesota Duluth|
|Jared Bethune||F||11||Warroad||16||24||35||59||3.69||Minnesota Duluth|
|Jake Wahlin||F||11||White Bear Lake||14||26||15||41||2.93||UMass|
|Tommy Novak||F||11||St. Thomas Academy||14||10||24||34||2.43||Minnesota|
|Avery Peterson||F||12||Grand Rapids||16||19||19||38||2.38||Nebraska Omaha|
|Joey Marooney||F||12||Holy Family Catholic||13||9||17||26||2.00||Alabama Huntsville|
|Mitch Slattery||F||12||Hill-Murray||14||10||16||26||1.86||St. Cloud State|
|Luc Snuggerud||D||12||Eden Prairie||14||6||18||24||1.71||Nebraska Omaha|
|Nick Swaney||F||10||Lakeville South||15||7||18||25||1.67||Minnesota Duluth|
|Steven Spinner||F||12||Eden Prairie||14||9||13||22||1.57||Nebraska Omaha|
|Joey Anderson||F||9||Hill-Murray||14||9||12||21||1.50||Minnesota Duluth|
|Travis Brown||D||12||Rogers||14||5||16||21||1.50||Michigan Tech|
|Seamus Donohue||D||11||St. Thomas Academy||14||3||15||18||1.29||Air Force Academy|
|Phil Beaulieu||D||12||Duluth East||15||8||11||19||1.27||Nebraska Omaha|
|Tyler Nanne||D||12||Edina||16||4||15||19||1.19||Ohio State|
|Dylan Malmquist||F||11||Edina||16||9||9||18||1.13||Notre Dame|
|Mitch Reinke||D||12||Stillwater||15||3||13||16||1.07||Michigan Tech|
|Jason Krych||D||11||Totino-Grace||13||3||3||6||0.46||Minnesota State|
NHL Central Scouting Midterm Rankings
The following spreadsheet is made up of Minnesota High School players whom made the 2014 NHL CSS North American skaters midterm rankings.
|Rank||Players||Team||Pos||HT / WT||College|
|61||Luc Snuggerud||Eden Prairie||D||6'.25" / 180||Nebraska Omaha|
|67||Mitch Slattery||Hill-Murray||F||5'11.5" / 185||St. Cloud State|
|70||Steven Spinner||Eden Prairie||F||5'11.5" / 196||Nebraska Omaha|
|97||Nick Wolff||Eagan||D||6'3.5" / 200||Uncommitted|
|168||Tyler Nanne||Edina||D||5'10" / 174||Ohio State|
|180||Miguel Fidler||Edina||F||5'11.75" / 186||Uncommitted|
|199||Dylan Malmquist||Edina||F||5'10.25" / 171||Notre Dame|
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Matt Christians covers Minnesota Duluth and the NCHC for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also give him a follow here -> Follow @matt_christians