The Minnesota girls Class AA high school hockey tournament kicks off on Thursday with four quarterfinal match-ups between eight of the state’s best teams. Starting with Friday’s semifinals, games can be watched on TV in Minnesota on KSTC-45 in the Twin Cities, or streamed online for a fee here.
As per usual, there is some terrific talent playing in this year’s tournament. If you’re watching today, here are some of the players to watch for.
Players to watch: Lakeville South comes into this tournament as an underdog, but have their best player in the right position. Goalie Lexi Baker is one of the five finalists for top senior goalie in the state, and is committed to play college hockey at Bemidji State.
The Cougars don’t have any superstars offensively, but rely on a very balanced, senior-laden attack. Four different seniors scored between 25 and 18 points in their 25-game regular season. Their top D1 prospect is sophomore Lindsay Maloney, who skated in the U16 Elite League this fall and is the Cougars’ top playmaker with 17 assists on the year.
Players to Watch: Sophomore Sydney Langseth committed to Minnesota State early this fall, and has since developed into one of the top players in the state. She’s a good skater that excels with the puck on her stick. She led the Eagles with 45 points, 15 more than the next closest scorer, this past season against a really tough schedule.
The other top talent on Eden Prairie’s team is senior Crystalyn Hengler, a semifinalist for the Ms. Hockey Award and Minnesota commit. Hengler isn’t overly fast, but is a great stickhandler and possesses a heavy shot that makes her a dangerous offensive scoring threat.
Freshman forward Grace Kuipers plays on a line with Langseth and is committed to Princeton.
Finally, the Eagles have a potential difference-maker in goal in Colgate commit Alexa Dobchuk. Dobchuk is a finalist for the top senior goalie in the state, and posted a .927 save percentage in the regular season.
Players to Watch: Senior Taylor Anderson(UMD) is the team’s top goal-scorer, scoring 25 goals in 26 regular season games. She’s a speedy skater that is dangerous off the rush. Setting her up is sophomore Jenna Ruiz, who transferred in from Wisconsin this year. Ruiz is a quick, hard-nosed player that is a potential D1 prospect.
Players to Watch: The Pioneers are an incredibly deep team, with six D1 commits on the roster, and a handful of others that will one day be college commits.
Their leading scorer is Minnesota commit Abby Boreen. Boreen is a strong, physical player and a tireless worker. Wingers Katie Kaufman(Merrimack) and Haylee Blinkhorn(BU) both play with lot speed, which make them dangerous. Other D1 commits up front include Morgan Helgenson(Clarkson), a speedy all-around playmaker and sophomore Nina Steigauf(Quinnipiac), who is a really skilled offensive player.
The defense is led by senior Mariah Keopple(Princeton), a big, physical presence on the blue line. Junior defenseman Gretchen Greeder is a smooth skater, and 8th-grader Maddie Geer is a strong defenseman that will likely be a D1 player some day.
Players to Watch: Everything for the Cougars starts with their dynamic duo of Gabbie Hughes and Anneke Linser, who will both head to Minnesota Duluth next season. Linser was a Ms. Hockey semifinalist with a big reach and soft hands that make her an excellent playmaker. Hughes is a finalist for Ms. Hockey. She’s a tenacious worker with great goal-scoring instincts and has been arguably the best player in the state this year.
The depth behind those two often don’t get the credit they deserve. There are a lot of solid senior players, led by defenseman Lauren Sicora, who will play college soccer next year. Junior Maija Almich and sophomore Alli Pitlick are also D1 prospects.
Players to Watch: Edina leads the tournament, and probably the universe, with eight D1 commits on their roster. Leading the way is senior Ms. Hockey finalist Emily Oden(Minnesota). Oden is a smart, talented playmaker that is great at using her teammates. The team’s leading scorer is Loli Fidler(Harvard), one of the faster players in the state that is excellent at attacking one-on-one. Other forwards to watch include Annie Kuehl(Princeton) and CC Bowlby(Dartmouth) who are both fast and really smooth puck-handlers. Senior Aliyah Lance(RPI) and sophomore Tella Jungels(Minnesota) both bring a lot of energy and hard-work to the line-up.
On the blue line, Mallory Uihlein(Penn State) is a strong skater and elite passer. Brooke Tucker(Northeastern) provides some physical presence, and the group of Evelyn Adams, Savanna Atol, Eva Hendrikson(Middlebury), and Sophia Doll are all really terrific skaters.
Players to Watch: The Huskies have a senior Ms. Hockey semifinalist in Claire Butorac(Minnesota State), but it’s the impressive young talent that really forms the core of this team.
Andover’s top line of Butorac, Jamie Nelson(Minnesota State), and Peyton Hemp(Minnesota) carries the team. They’ve combined to score 74 goals, while the rest of the team combined has scored 45 goals. Butorac is a terrific skater with good hands. Nelson is smart and reliable with the puck. And Hemp is a hard-nosed, high-energy player. Their skills complement each other really well and makes them very effective.
Besides senior defenseman Grace Halvorson and junior forward Paige Anderson(Bemidji State), the rest of Andover’s main contributors are sophomores or younger. Freshman Gabrielle Krause is a big forward that can really shoot the puck.
Players to Watch: Brainerd/Little Falls has some really good young talent at the top of their line-up. They’re led in scoring by sophomore Gabbie Smith(Bemidji State), and Cheyenne Abear(Union). Abear was a top scorer at USA Hockey’s Girls national 15s camp two summers ago. Sophomore defenseman Sophie Robinson(Dartmouth) is a strong skater and the team’s top defenseman. Junior goalie Olivia King is also a D1 prospect.