CLASS AA | CLASS A
|1.||Eden Prairie 8-2-0|
1/6 at #2AA Hill-Murray
|Goals per game: 5.90|
Goals allowed per game: 2.50
Kyle Rau (15g - 11a - 26 pts)
David Rath (14g - 11a - 25 pts)
Luc Gerdes (9g - 10a - 19 pts)
Andrew Ford 6-2-0, 2.48 GAA, .897 save %
Eden Prairie dominated the St. Louis Park Recreation Invitational last week thumping each opponent, Benilde-SM 8-5, Maple Grove 6-0, and then Moorhead 4-0 in the championship game. Each of their opponents in the tournament won their other two games.
Eden Prairie is 8-0-0 when Kyle Rau scores, 0-2-0 when he does not. They are also 8-0-0 when they score more than three goals, 0-2-0 under three goals.
1/6 #1AA Eden Prairie
1/8 #5A South St. Paul
|Goals per game: 4.80|
Goals allowed per game: 1.90
Ben Bahe (11g - 8a - 19pts)
Kevin Becker (4g - 9a - 13pts)
Zach LaValle (8g - 3a - 11pts)
Ryan Holler (3g - 8a - 11pts)
Tim Shaughnessy 6-2-1, 1.86 GAA, .903 save %
Hill-Murray won the pinnacle of the Schwan Cup by winning the Gold Division. They defeated Minnetonka 5-3 in the championship game. On the way, they defeated previously unbeaten Class A #1 Breck School 8-0 in the quarterfinal and then Edina, last week's #4 Class AA team, in a 4-3 shootout in the semifinal. The Pioneers outshot Edina 28-20.
Since losing their opening day match to Burnsville back on November 27th, 4-6, the Pioneers have not given up more than three goal in their next nine games.
Hill-Murray will face #1AA Eden Prairie on Thursday night. I expect Coach Bill Lechner's defensive-minded approach to put some focus on containing Kyle Rau. The Pioneers must keep Eden Prairie under four goals. EP's high-powered offense vs. H-M's strong defense. The goaltending is about the same for both teams, experienced and good.
I will hold to my preseason prediction and make it my mid-season prediction. Hill-Murray has the offensive and defensive depth along with the experienced goaltending to take them to the Class AA championship in March.
1/4 St. Louis Park
1/7 at #12AA Academy of Holy Angels
|Goals per game: 3.70|
Goals allowed per game: 2.70
Steven Fogarty (9g - 7a - 16pts)
Michael Sit (2g - 11a - 13pts)
Lou Nanne (7g - 5a - 12pts)
Connor Girard 3-2-2, 2.97 GAA, .863 save %
Edina is not flashy. They do not have a 'star' on the team. They have a strong defensive team. Their goaltending is not always the best. They average just one goal per game better than their opponents. Yet, the Hornets WIN.
|4.||Duluth East 8-2-0|
1/3 Duluth Central
|Goals per game: 5.90|
Goals allowed per game: 1.40
Trevor Olson (12g - 13a - 25pts)
Dom Toninato (11g - 13a - 24pts)
Jake Randolph (10g - 14a - 24pts)
JoJo Jeanetta 4-1-0, 0.97 GAA, .959 save %
Joel Perlinger 3-1-0, 1.80 GAA, .899 save %
JoJo Jeanetta was not in goal against Edina in their 4-3 loss at the Schwan Cup. Still, Edina beat them so Edina gets the nod at one spot ahead of the Hounds.
|5.||Benilde-St. Margaret's 8-1-0|
1/4 Robbinsdale Cooper
1/8 at #16A Chisago Lakes Area
|Goals per game: 4.67|
Goals allowed per game: 2.33
Pat Steinhauser (5g - 11a - 16pts)
Christian Horn (3g - 11a - 14pts)
Grant Besse (9g - 4a - 13pts)
Anders Jecha 5-1-0, 2.17 GAA, .905 save %
The Red Knights have defeated St. Cloud Tech, Hill-Murray, Minnetonka, and Maple Grove. Their only loss was to Eden Prairie at the St. Louis Park Recreation Invitational, 8-5. Eden Prairie led 6-2 after two periods, increased the lead to 7-2, and Benilde-St. Margaret's scoring machine gave the Eagles a bit of a scare by scoring three goals within four and half minutes making it 7-5 before Kyle Rau provided an empty net goal with 1:31 left.
Except for the eight-goal letdown to Eden Prairie, the Red Knights defense and goals allowed are noticeably better over last season.
Benilde-St. Margaret's, with a few exceptions, will be entering into the softer part of their schedule against North Suburban opponents. They will face Edina next week and the Academy of Holy Angels on 1/29, the toughest games of their January schedule.
1/4 at Lakeville North
|Goals per game: 4.50|
Goals allowed per game: 2.08
Tony Cameranesi (10g - 21a - 31pts)
Mario Lucia (14g - 13a - 27pts)
Tyler Klein (8g - 12a - 20pts)
Andrew McIntyre 8-2-0, 2.14 GAA, .906 save %
Wayzata struggled in the St. Louis Park Recreation Invitational last week losing to Moorhead 2-1 thanks mostly to Michael Bitzer's 36 saves for the Spuds. Maple Grove then defeated Wayzata 4-2 in the third place game, avenging a early season 3-2 loss to the Trojans. Still, I don't think the losses were bad enough to send them plummeting down in the rankings. They still beat Edina, Duluth East, Apple Valley, Maple Grove, and Roseville this season.
|7.||Apple Valley 8-2-0|
1/6 at #8AA Eagan
1/8 Bloomington Kennedy
|Goals per game: 5.20|
Goals allowed per game: 2.00
Hudson Fasching (9g - 16a - 25pts)
AJ Michaelson (15g - 8a - 23pts)
Trent Heuer (7g - 12a - 19pts)
Aaron Gretz 8-2-0, 2.00 GAA, .912 save %
Apple Valley showed that they can beat North Dakota's best. The Eagles are 0-2-0 against ranked Minnesota teams. The Eagles play Eagan on Thursday and the Wildcats will be ready. Apple Valley needs this win to re-establish themselves as the best team in 3AA and to show that they can beat a good Minnesota team.
1/4 #11AA Minnetonka
1/6 #7AA Apple Valley
|Goals per game: 4.67|
Goals allowed per game: 1.78
Michael Zajac (7g - 9a - 16pts)
Nick Kuchera (3g - 11a - 14pts)
Will Merchant (10g - 3a - 13pts)
Tommy Bodeker 4-2-1, 2.44 GAA, .904 save %
The focus has been on Apple Valley. Eagan has been in Apple Valley's shadow. If Eagan can pull out the win, they will come out of that shadow and become the front-runner in 3AA.
You cannot ignore that 4-2 win over Eden Prairie. Eagan may be underrated.
|9.||Grand Rapids 10-1-1|
1/7 #12A Duluth Marshall
|Goals per game: 5.50|
Goals allowed per game: 2.92
Patrick Moore (9g - 22a - 31pts)
Travis Underwood (9g - 18a - 27pts)
Zach Dick (5g - 11a - 16pts)
Dom DeGuiseppi 7-0-0, 3.18 GAA, .897 save %
Aaron Foss 3-1-1, 2.34 GAA, .889 save %
Great offensive, questionable defense. The Thunderhawks are 7-0-0 when DeGuiseppi is in goal but he and the defense are giving up over three goals per game.
|10.||Maple Grove 7-3-1|
1/6 Coon Rapids
|Goals per game: 3.09|
Goals allowed per game: 2.18
Dylan Steman (4g - 12a - 16pts)
Tyler Dunagan (4g - 5a - 9pts)
Shane Wolden (4g - 4a - 8pts)
Ryan Coyne 7-3-1, 2.20 GAA, .905 save %
Only losses to #1AA Eden Prairie, #5AA Benilde-St. Margaret's, and #6AA, former #1AA, Wayzata. However, they only have one win against a ranked team, Wayzata last Thursday. The Crimson struggle to score at times. They are the third lowest scoring team per game in the top 20, ahead of Roseville's 2.8 and Moorhead's 1.75 goals per game. In eleven games, the most goals for them in any game has been five twice. Four teams in the top 10 average over five goals per game.
1/4 #8AA Eagan
1/8 #19AA Moorhead
|Goals per game: 4.10|
Goals allowed per game: 2.90
Vinni Lettieri (8g - 6a - 14pts)
Thomas Schutt (4g - 10a - 14pts)
Erik Baskin (5g - 6a - 11pts)
Max Coatta (5g - 6a - 11pts)
Alex Glockner 5-2-1, 3.29 GAA, .870 save %
Minnetonka has defeated St. Thomas Academy twice this season, both in overtime, defeated and tied Blaine, and have defeated Roseau. But, one-goal losses to Benilde-St. Margaret's, Stillwater Area, and the two-goal to Hill-Murray in the Schwan Cup - Gold Division Championship, has kept the Skippers just outside of the top 10.
The Skippers will face Moorhead and one of the best goaltenders in the state, Michael Bitzer, on Saturday at home.
|12.||Academy of Holy Angels 4-2-0|
1/7 #3AA Edina
|Goals per game: 4.67|
Goals allowed per game: 3.33
Joseph LaBate (8g - 6a - 14pts)
Cullen Hurley (5g - 7a - 12pts)
Connor Hurley (1g - 8a - 9pts)
Brett Pierce 3-2-0, 3.38 GAA, .869 save %
Surprise! The Stars are back in the top 20 and are on the fast-track to get back into the top 10.
Holy Angels struggled in their first three games of the season losing two and barely escaping in overtime against a now 1-4-1 Chanhassen team. Maybe you can blame their late start to their schedule. They played their first game on December 16th, almost three weeks after some teams played their first game.
The Stars shined in the Schwan Cup - Silver Division. They won the title by defeating Burnsville in overtime, shutting out then unbeaten Blake School 7-0, and then Cretin-Derham Hall 8-5 in the title game.
The Stars offense seems to be on track but the defense and goaltending still needs to improve. They have allowed opponents an average of four goals per game in their last four games. Take out the shutout against Class A school Blake School, the last three Class AA opponents averaged over five goals per game.
Holy Angels will face #3AA Edina on Friday at the Richfield Arena.
|13.||Roseville Area 5-2-3|
1/4 Mounds View
1/8 at East Ridge
|Goals per game: 2.80|
Goals allowed per game: 1.90
Tom Bartel (2g - 10a - 12pts)
Spencer Sand (3g - 5a - 8pts)
Sam Effinger (2g - 6a - 8pts)
Dan Betz (1g - 7a - 8pts)
Nick Lehr 3-2-2, 1.47 GAA, .942 save %
Roseville did not lose one game in regulation or overtime in the Schwan Cup - Silver Division last week and, yet, they finished sixth in the tournament. All three games officially ended in a tie for the Raiders. Unfortunately, Roseville lost two out of three shootouts against its three opponents. Fortunately, there are no shootouts come playoff time.
The Raiders struggle to score. They have the 2nd worst goals per game average in the top 20 behind Moorhead, 2.8 goals per game. They are, however, tired for fourth for the best goals against average. Senior goaltender Nick Lehr is a big reason for that.
1/6 Prior Lake
1/8 Lakeville North
|Goals per game: 4.89|
Goals allowed per game: 3.00
Mike Dockry (9g - 14a - 23pts)
Jace Childs (7g - 12a - 19pts)
Cory Chapman (7g - 8a - 15pts)
Bodhi Engum 5-2-1, 3.17 GAA, .877 save %
What ails Burnsville? They defeated Hill-Murray in their first game of the season and they have not beat a ranked team since.
They lost a heartbreaker to Edina after the win over Hill-Murray. Burnsville led 4-2 eight minutes into the second period. They still led 4-3 until 3:05 left in the third period. Edina tied it at that mark and then the Hornets won it with the game-winner with only three seconds left.
After the Edina loss, the Blaze had another third period meltdown against Eagan. Burnsville was up 2-0 going into the final period but Eagan scored twice to salvage a 2-2 tie. They were outshot 12-6 in the third.
In the quarterfinal game of the Schwan Cup - Silver Division, Burnsville led Academy of Holy Angels 5-2 after the second period. Holy Angels then scored four unanswered goals, three in the third and the game-winner in overtime. Holy Angels tied the game with 31 second left in the third.
Burnsville led the 1-0 after one period against Roseville but Roseville was able to tie it at 1-1 for an official tie. Roseville won the shootout.
Burnsville is 5-2-2. The two losses and two ties all came after Burnsville led all four games, against four good teams.
Even in the Hill-Murray game, Burnsville had the lead twice in the third period before Hill-Murray came right back to tie it twice. The Blaze were able to pull that game out thanks to a power play goal by Mike Dockry with 5:17 left and then an empty net goal.
As their schedule becomes more difficult in the coming weeks, the Blaze need to figure out how to close out games and finish strong.
1/4 Champlin Park
|Goals per game: 4.30|
Goals allowed per game: 2.20
Jonny Brodzinski (9g - 14a - 23pts)
Dylan Lambert (7g - 11a - 18pts)
Michael Brodzinski (4g - 5a - 9pts)
Nick Malvin 4-1-3, 2.04 GAA, .919 save %
Blaine is a team hard to figure out at this point. They only have one loss and they have only two wins against top 20 teams, Roseau and White Bear Lake. The loss came to Minnetonka while their three ties have come against ranked teams, Maple Grove, Minnetonka, and Edina.
I think the second half of the season could go either way for the Bengals as they dive into the Northwest Suburban schedule the rest of the way.
1/4 #7A Virginia/MIB
1/7 St. Francis
|Goals per game: 5.64|
Goals allowed per game: 2.55
Nolan Meyer (17g - 11a - 28pts)
Jack McFarlane (11g - 13a - 24pts)
Ben Michaud (6g - 18a - 24pts)
Boyd Smith 4-2-0, 2.50 GAA, .868 save %
John Scheuer 3-1-0, 2.50 GAA, .905 save %
Senior forward Nolan Meyer has been been a huge addition to Cloquet/Esko/Carlton this season. Without this Duluth East transfer, the Lumberjacks may only have four or five wins at this point of the season. Meyer has scored at least an assist in each of the 11 games this season except one. Yes, that's right, he was held scoreless against Duluth East in their 4-0 loss on December 16th.
Another exciting addition to Cloquet/Esko/Carlton this season has been freshman Karson Kuhlman. He has six goals and 15 assists in eleven games, besting all freshman in the state with 21 total points.
Their goaltending is a question mark as they have had three different goaltenders sharing time in goal, two in 10 of the 11 games.
Key wins for the Lumberjacks have been against Proctor, Bemidji, Forest Lake, and Duluth Central. The last three key wins all came at the Heritage Classic this past week where the Jacks won the tournament. The Lumberjacks losses came at the hands of Grand Rapids, Duluth East, and a good Class A team in South St. Paul.
1/4 St. Cloud Tech
1/8 at River Lakes
|Goals per game: 4.27|
Goals allowed per game: 1.36
Steven Heller (5g - 9a - 14pts)
John Forseth (4g - 9a - 13pts)
Max Hazelton (8g - 4a - 12pts)
Matt Serratore (7g - 5a - 12pts)
Jeremiah Graves 8-1-1, 1.28 GAA, .938 save %
Bemidji has a good offense, good defense, and strong goaltending. But, who have they played?
The Lumberjacks are 7-0-0 against Class A teams. They are 2-1-1 against Class AA teams. Their only loss was to #16AA Cloquet/Esko/Carlton 4-3 in the Heritage Classic. Their tie was against Moorhead. Their AA wins were against Andover (5-5-0) and Monticello/A/ML (3-6-0).
St. Cloud Tech (8-2-0) are on the schedule for Tuesday night. Roseau, Brainerd/P/P, and Grand Rapids are coming up later in January. I think they still have more to prove before moving up.
1/6 at Crookston
1/8 #18A East Grand Forks
|Goals per game: 4.00|
Goals allowed per game: 3.30
Shane Omdahl (9g - 7a - 16pts)
Josh Erickson (6g - 10a - 16pts)
Justin Anderson (3g - 13a - 16pts)
Jared Strand 5-0-0, 1.05 GAA, .937 save %
Ryan Erickson 0-3-0, 6.28 GAA, .753 save %
Mike Tangen 0-2-0, 5.66 GAA, .818 save %
Roseau won their fifth straight game during the Roseau Classic last week. They started out the season at 0-5-0. In their first five games of the season, the Rams allowed opponents 5.6 goals per game and Jared Strand was not in goal. In their last five games, the Rams have allowed opponents only five goals total, 1.00 goals against average, and Jared Strand was in goal for all five games.
In those first five games, the Rams lost to Thief River Falls, Blaine, Minnetonka, Grand Rapids, and Hibbing/Chisholm. Three out of the five were lost by one goal.
In the last five games, they defeated Moorhead and Academy of Holy Angels.
The Rams goal production has gone down somewhat since the turnaround but they are still winning. In their five wins, the Rams scored only two goals in three of them. This team has all kinds of scoring potential from Shane Omdahl to Chase Broten but they need to get back to putting in the net more. They are averaging 40 shots per game.
As the season progresses, so does my like for this team to win the Section.
1/4 #18A East Grand Forks
1/6 at Thief River Falls
1/8 at #11AA Minnetonka
|Goals per game: 1.75|
Goals allowed per game: 2.25
Eric Brenk (6g - 2a - 8pts)
Bryant Christian (2g - 3a - 5pts)
Jacob Uglem (0g - 4a - 4pts)
Terry Leabo (0g - 4a - 4pts)
Michael Bitzer 4-3-1, 2.08 GAA, .930 save %
How can a team that averages just 1.75 goals per game win like Moorhead does? Can a team that averages just 1.75 goals per game ever think about making it to the state tournament? See Moorhead's 2008-2009 schedule.
The Spuds 2010-2011 season has a familiar overtone to that of their 2008-2009 season. The Spuds had a stretch from last December to late January where they went 0-8-0, were shutout FOUR times, averaged less than a goal per game, and gave up 3.5 goals per game. After that eight game disaster, they won their next three games, each in overtime. They went 12-2-2 overall after those eight games. They cruised to easy wins in the Section 8AA playoffs and surprised everyone by making it to the Class AA championship game against Eden Prairie. Eden Prairie won 3-0.
Moorhead is riding firmly on the back of junior goaltender Michael Bitzer. Bitzer is facing an average of 30.5 shots per game, stopping 93% of them or 28.4 shots per game. He put on a clinic at the St. Louis Park Recreation Invitational saving 105 of 111 total shots during the tournament. That is good enough for a .946 save percentage. Moorhead defeated Bloomington Jefferson 4-2, Wayzata 2-1, and then fell 4-0 to Eden Prairie in the championship.
Bitzer will need some help if the Spuds plan on making a similar run to two years ago.
|20.||White Bear Lake 6-4-0|
1/6 at Stillwater Area
1/8 at Mounds View
|Goals per game: 3.80|
Goals allowed per game: 1.90
Brandon Wahlin (12g - 10a - 22pts)
Mac Jansen (11g - 4a - 15pts)
Mitch Morrisette (4g - 6a - 10pts)
Jared Schletty 3-2-0, 1.91 GAA, .917 save %
Michael Jordan 3-2-0, 1.82 GAA, .911 save %
White Bear Lake started the season 5-1-0 and scoring 5.83 goals per game. Since 12/23, the Bears are 1-3-0, averaging 0.75 goals per game, and were shutout twice. On 12/23, the Bears were shutout by their biggest 4AA rivals, Hill-Murray, 3-0. They were outshot 35-12.
The Bears still have all of the tools to make a run. Senior Max Birkinbine has not scored a goal in his last six games. He only has three so far on the season. The most he went without a goal last season was five. He had 22 total goals last year as a junior. If Birkinbine turns it around, so will the Bears.