Sixteen teams punched their ticket last week to the XCel Energy Center to play in next week's Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament.
Seeds have been determined and match-ups set for the tournament. As usual, Class A--the designation for smaller schools-- will play their quarterfinals on Wednesday, then take Thursday off while Class AA--the designation for larger schools--plays their quarterfinal round. Both sections will play their semifinal round on Friday, with the championship games taking place on Saturday.
The top five teams in each class are seeded, with the final three spots determined by random draw. Here's how the field ended up this year:
1. Lakeville North
3. St. Thomas Academy
5. Eden Prairie
And here is the schedule, again with the quarterfinal games starting on Thursday:
# 2 Edina vs. Bemidji 11AM
#3 St. Thomas Academy vs. Duluth East 1PM
#1 Lakeville North vs. Hill-Murray 6PM
#4 Blaine vs. #5 Eden Prairie 8PM
The winners of the morning session meet each other in the first semifinal on Friday night, and the winners of the night session meet in the late game Friday night.
Handicapping the field, this looks like a three-horse race. Lakeville North went through the regular season undefeated. Edina's only loss this season was to Lakeville North. If they meet , it will be the third game in three days for both teams, which likely gives Edina an edge with their depth. Complicating matters is third seed St. Thomas Academy, who could give Edina all they can handle in the semifinal, and could easily win the whole tournament.
3. East Grand Forks
5. St. Cloud Apollo
And here is the schedule to kick off the tournament on Wednesday:
#2 Mahtomedi vs. New Ulm 11AM
#3 East Grand Forks vs. New Prague 1PM
#1 Hermantown vs. Spring Lake Park 6PM
#4 Breck vs. #5 St. Cloud Apollo 8PM
Same schedule as the Class AA tournament, with the winners of the morning session meeting in the first semifinal on Friday morning, and winners of the evening session meeting in the second semifinal on Friday afternoon.
Hermantown comes into the Class A tournament as the heavy favorite. They dropped a pair of games to Class AA teams from the southwest Twin Cities suburbs, then rolled through the rest of their schedule, including a shutout win over East Grand Forks. After the Hawks, the field is relatively wide open, which should make for a fun tournament.