Next week, one of the great spectacles in high school sports will take place with the Minnesota State Boys High School Hockey Tournament at the XCel Energy Center. After an intense week of section championships, sixteen teams in two classes will compete to raise a state championship.
The big one is the Class AA championship, which should sell out the X for all three days of their tournament.
Here is the opening round schedule which will take place on Thursday.
11:00am #2 St. Thomas Academy vs. Lakeville South
1:00pm #3 Moorhead vs. Hill-Murray
6:00pm #1 Eden Prairie vs. Wayzata
8:00pm #4 Maple Grove vs. #5 Grand Rapids
The story of this year’s Class AA tournament is #1 Eden Prairie, led by Casey Mittelstadt. Mittelstadt has made a compelling argument as one of the greatest Minnesota high school hockey players ever, and adding the state championship he returned to Eden Prairie for cements him in that pantheon.
His Eagles have won 13 in a row, with their last loss coming in December. But their path to a title won’t be easy. Eden Prairie’s roughest stretch of the season included a loss to Grand Rapids, and ties with Hill-Murray and St. Thomas Academy, all in this year’s field.
Figuring out seeds 2-5 was a mess because it involved untangling a Gordian knot of conflicting results. There were a lot of teams that were really good this year, but none that were so good they separated themselves from the pack, which should make for a fun tournament where anything could happen.
Here is the Class A bracket, which will play their quarterfinal round on Wednesday
11:00am #2 Delano vs. Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake
1:00pm #3 Mahtomedi vs. Northfield
6:00pm #1 Hermantown vs. Luverne
8:00pm #4 East Grand Forks vs. #5 St. Cloud Cathedral
The big storyline here is Hermantown vs. Delano. Delano is making their first ever trip to the state tournament, led by a dynamic first line with three senior forwards. This year is their shot. Hermantown is the perennial Class A power that won a title last year, and could be ever better this year. Hermantown handed Delano a 4-3 loss in December up north. A rematch should be a great battle.
It’s also noteworthy that joining Delano as first-timers at the state tournament are Northfield and Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake.