AA Rankings for 12/27/15

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karl(east)
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AA Rankings for 12/27/15

Post by karl(east) » Sun Dec 27, 2015 3:25 pm

Sorry for the short travel-related delay. I hope you all had a good Christmas break, but now it’s time to get back to business.

1. Benilde-St. Margaret’s (10-0)
-The Red Knights did what they needed to do against Hopkins, and their spot at the top is undisputed. Their tournament looks like it will get progressively easier, with the North game on Monday providing yet another stiff test against a top-5 team.
This week: Sports Authority Holiday Classic—Mon vs. #5 Lakeville North, Tues vs. #12 Elk River, Wed vs. Maple Grove

2. Blaine (8-2)
-A week after I whacked them for the Anoka loss, Blaine forces me to reverse course and throw them back up near the top. I think their weaknesses remain very clear, but as long as those lower lines can hold their own as they did against Eden Prairie, Riley Tufte might just be able to put this team on his back. They’ve now played the Eagles three times in the past year, and won comfortably twice; they lost the one that really counted, though. They don’t have a holiday tournament this year, but they do still have a couple of games, including a road trip to Duluth.
This week: Tues at White Bear Lake, Sat at Duluth East

3. Eden Prairie (7-2)
-As dominant as this team can be, their two losses have revealed their issues on the back end. Their depth also should have been a strength against Blaine, but the Graham line failed to produce anything. It may just have been a bad night, and despite all of this, they’re the clear favorite in the Schwan Cup Gold. They have one of the easier opening round draws in Burnsville, too.
This week: Schwan Cup Gold

4. Stillwater (8-0)
-The Ponies were idle this past week, and continue to stay high despite a weak schedule because others have lst. They finally get to play some stronger opponents now, though they did get a very easy draw in St. Louis Park, with only one team in the top 20. Any sort of stumble will drop them, and probably by a lot.
This week: Sports Authority Holiday Classic—Mon vs. #10 Holy Family, Tues vs. Maple Grove, Wed vs. Moorhead; Sat Forest Lake

5. Lakeville North (5-2)
-A dominant win over Lakeville South has the Panthers looking very sharp. They’ve proven they can destroy weaker opposition; now, it’s time to ramp things up and give them a test again, with a battle with Benilde being arguably the most interesting holiday tournament game on the docket. Their next two games are hardly free passes either.
This week: Sports Authority Holiday Classic—Mon vs. #1 Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Tues vs. #10 Holy Family, Wed vs. #12 Elk River

6. Prior Lake (7-1)
-An unexpectedly close affair with Chanhassen was the Lakers’ first game in a while; time will tell if this is a warning sign, an off night, or just more of a reflection on improving Chanhassen. The stakes now get a bit higher, as they’ll take on their first two top 15 opponents since the loss to Eden Prairie in the season opener.
This week: Sports Authority Holiday Classic—Mon vs. #12 Elk River, Tues vs. Moorhead, Wed vs. #10 Holy Family

7. Bemidji (7-0-2)
-The Lumberjacks dispatched of Roseau to keep on rolling. They’re off to Duluth this week for their holiday tourney, which pits them against some of the best Class A and Wisconsin teams. A final against Hermantown is the most likely outcome, but first they have to win a battle of Lumberjacks against Cloquet.
This week: Hilltopper Holiday Classic

8. Wayzata (8-3)
-A clunker against St. Thomas drops the Trojans some; their discipline issues reappeared there, and the offense went way too quiet. They have the talent to do some real damage in the Schwan Cup, but need to find a steady keel and stay consistent.
This week: Schwan Cup Gold

9. Edina (7-4)
-Dispatched of St. Louis Park in their lone game this past week. They open the Schwan Cup with the State semifinal that never happened from last year, and also have a game against White Bear tacked on at the end of the week.
This week: Schwan Cup Gold; Sat vs. White Bear Lake

10. Holy Family (7-3)
-No games for the Fire this past week, but the week ahead may be the biggest of anyone’s, as they take on three other top ten squads. With a relatively easy conference schedule for much of the rest of the way, this could be make-or-break week for their ranking.
This week: Sports Authority Holiday Classic—Mon vs. #4 Stillwater, Tues vs. #5 Lakeville North, Wed vs. #7 Prior Lake.

11. Grand Rapids (6-4-1)
-I slid the idle Thunderhawks back up a spot because I think their overall body of work is a bit better than Elk River’s, despite the head-to-head result. They still need to prove they can win some big games. In the meantime, they’ll have to settle for games with a section opponent and a respectable Brainerd team.
This week: Tues vs. Forest Lake, Wed vs. Brainerd

12. Elk River (6-3-1)
-A tie with Centennial despite a number of absences isn’t a bad result, so the Elks tread water for the time being. They’ve been decent, but Grand Rapids is their lone top 15 win, and all three losses, while to excellent teams, were by three of four goals. They drew a very tough lineup in St. Louis Park, so we’ll see what they’re made of this week.
This week: Mon vs. #6 Prior Lake, Tues vs. #1 Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Wed vs. #5 Lakeville North

13. Minnetonka (6-3)
-Needed overtime to get past Bloomington Jefferson, which isn’t ideal, but they got the job done. They have flashes in both good and bad directions, so the Schwan Cup should be enlightening. They have a relatively easy first round draw in Centennial.
This week: Schwan Cup Gold

14. Centennial (6-2-1)
-Tied a shorthanded Elk River team, which is a good result, but not one that’s going to push them a whole lot higher. The Schwan Cup Gold should be a worthy challenge, and their first round opponent, Minnetonka, gives them some room to make a move in this part of the rankings, even if they can’t stack up with Edina or Eden Prairie.
This week: Schwan Cup Gold

15. St. Thomas Academy (6-2-1)
-The Cadets are back in the realm of the ranked after taking apart Wayzata on Tuesday. It’s their first quality win, and there are some real depth questions here, but their top unit is going to pile up some serious points. They now get some much more serious tests.
This week: Schwan Cup Gold

The Next Ten

Hill-Murray (7-2)
-Perhaps harshly, the Pioneers fall from the top 15. This isn’t a serious indictment, but they haven’t beaten any top 15 teams yet (everyone ahead of them save Prior Lake and Bemidji has), and there certainly weren’t any style points in the win over Tartan this past week. They can fix that in a hurry with a good Schwan Cup.

Anoka (5-3)
-Took care of Andover to hold steady. The Tornadoes will enter the Schwan Cup Bronze as the prohibitive favorites, with Orono and Hopkins being the most likely to upend them.

Duluth East (5-4)
-The Hounds are back in business after a solid win over Maple Grove. They don’t have a holiday tournament this year, but they do get in to the meat of their schedule starting Saturday against Blaine.

Burnsville (3-4-1)
-Edged out an important 3AA win over Eastview. The Schwan Cup Gold is going to be a tough run, which could make for an ugly record coming out of it, but few have played a harder schedule to date.

Farmington (6-3-1)
-Beat Rochester Mayo this past week, and are idle this coming week.

Brainerd (5-1-1)
-Beat Moorhead to improve their standing in 8AA and show their record isn’t just a product of weak opposition. They head to the Iron Range this week for tests against Hibbing and Rapids.

Moorhead (4-4)
-Lost narrowly to Brainerd, but they have the win over Jefferson and have otherwise fairly predictable results. Maple Grove is their best shot as a win in game one in St. Louis Park, but Prior Lake and Stillwater are untested enough that I won’t write them off in the other two, either.

Eastview (4-3-2)
-Lost narrowly to Burnsville, which hurts their section seeding chances but keeps them in the picture. They’re the lone AA top 25 team in the Schwan Cup Silver, which is a rarity. Their first round game against Mahtomedi is no sure thing, though. Breck is the favorite in that tournament, and there are a couple of other notables in the picture.

Bloomington Jefferson (5-6)
-Gave Minnetonka a good run; all of their losses are to teams above them, and they’ve played some good teams close. After beating St. Paul Johnson on Saturday, they continue their play in the South St. Paul Tournament; on paper, they should win the thing.

White Bear Lake (7-3)
-It’s not always pretty, but a decent record is a decent record. Blaine and Edina this week will be a real test of the Bears’ quality.

And now, a few comments on the holiday tournaments involving more than one AA top 25 team, of which there are only two this year.

Sports Authority Holiday Classic (Teams listed in order of ranking)
1 Benilde-St. Margaret’s
4 Stillwater
5 Lakeville North
6 Prior Lake
10 Holy Family
12 Elk River
22 Moorhead
Maple Grove
-On paper this is a better tournament than the Schwan Cup this year, but for some reason that I fail to understand, they’ve got eight teams playing three random, pre-assigned opponents. That leaves Holy Family with a tough schedule and Stillwater with easy sledding, among other odd combinations. Anyway, this should be a good chance to learn about some of the state’s best teams, including a number who haven’t been tested a whole lot yet.

Schwan Cup Gold (Teams listed in bracket order)
16 Hill-Murray
8 Wayzata
3 Eden Prairie
17 Burnsville
13 Minnetonka
14 Centennial
15 St. Thomas Academy
9 Edina
-Call it Lake Conference ‘n Friends, with the four Lake teams each taking on some interloper. (At least the ones that already play each other three times are in separate brackets). It’s also a weird year here, as many of the teams that have traditionally done well are either down a bit and beatable (Edina, Hill, St. Thomas) or not here at all (Duluth East). That leaves Eden Prairie, who also got the easiest first round draw, with a seemingly clear path to the title.

It’s also time for a bi-weekly section tour:

1AA
5 Lakeville North
20 Farmington
Lakeville South
-Farmington’s loss to Lakeville South, coupled with North’s easy win over South, has North back as an easy #1 by virtue of their overall ranking, even though all these teams are all 1-1 against each other. They’ll all play again in the second half.

2AA
3 Eden Prairie
6 Prior Lake
10 Holy Family
13 Minnetonka
-Prior Lake has leapfrogged up to the 2-spot since I last did this, but they remain fairly untested. Thankfully, Wednesday’s game with Holy Family should put any debate there to rest. After that, the only remaining section games among these four are the Tonka-Eden Prairie games in Lake Conference play, so unless the Skippers can swing an upset or two there, we could well know our likely seeding order by midseason.

3AA
15 St. Thomas Academy
19 Burnsville
23 Eastview
24 Bloomington Jefferson
-The Cadets are back in the top spot after a signature win over Wayzata, and with no section games left unless they run into Burnsville in the Schwan Cup this week, they could easily stay there unless they plummet in the rankings. Burnsville’s win over Eastview continues to shore up the Blaze’s claim to a top-2 seed.

4AA
4 Stillwater
16 Hill-Murray
25 White Bear Lake
-We’re holding pattern here; the next game of any consequence is Stilwater’s January 9 contest with White Bear, the default #3 by virtue of being the only other team in the section with a winning record. For now, give the 4-seed to Tartan, who’s at least made things interesting for a few good teams. January 23 remains the date to watch.

5AA
2 Blaine
14 Centennial
17 Anoka
Maple Grove
-Blaine’s loss to Anoka means we can’t just had them the top seed, but the Tornadoes will likely need one other prominent win (or further losses by those above them) to move higher than #3. Things run through Anoka in the next two weeks, as they visit both Maple Grove and Centennial, with the Centennial game being the first in the second go-around for all these Northwest Suburban teams.

6AA
1 Benilde-St. Margaret’s
8 Wayzata
9 Edina
-No change here, and there won’t be any in the next two weeks unless Wayzata and Edina meet on the final day of the Schwan Cup. If they do, they could wind up playing each other five times in 27 games. Yawn. There are a bunch of games in the 4-6 range of this section in the next few weeks, though.

7AA
12 Elk River
11 Grand Rapids
18 Duluth East
-Not much clarity here yet, but Elk River has the early lead for the top seed after their win over Rapids. East and Rapids play on the 7th; both need this one to have a real shot at avoiding one of the other top three in a semifinal. Beyond that, Andover is the likely #4 with wins over Forest Lake and Cloquet; Cloquet and Marshall may have their East wins, but their bodies of work don’t justify much else.

8AA
7 Bemidji
21 Brainerd
22 Moorhead
-Bemidji’s wins over Brainerd and Roseau bring them closer to locking up the top seed, though the Brainerd game was close enough that we can’t hand them the section quite yet. Brainerd’s overtime win over Moorhead has them in early lead for the 2-seed, though there will be a second meeting; inconsistent St. Michael-Albertville drops to #4.
Last edited by karl(east) on Sun Dec 27, 2015 9:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Immigrant Fan
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Post by Immigrant Fan » Sun Dec 27, 2015 7:57 pm

Karl, I think you mean that Brainerd will be playing Grand Rapids this week and not Bemidji.

Otherwise, I am surprised to see Grand Rapids ranked ahead of Elk River, given the convincing beatdown the Elks inflicted, but I will not pretend to have anywhere close to your insights on the topic.

Thanks for doing these rankings - I look forward to seeing them and learning from the synopses.
Not born here...
...but, would hate to leave

karl(east)
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Post by karl(east) » Sun Dec 27, 2015 9:51 pm

Immigrant Fan wrote:Karl, I think you mean that Brainerd will be playing Grand Rapids this week and not Bemidji.

Otherwise, I am surprised to see Grand Rapids ranked ahead of Elk River, given the convincing beatdown the Elks inflicted, but I will not pretend to have anywhere close to your insights on the topic.

Thanks for doing these rankings - I look forward to seeing them and learning from the synopses.
Thanks for the catch. I bumped Rapids up a spot because their body of work is better--their losses have been closer save the ER one, and even in that one, I'm not sure the score tells the story. I also dropped ER a spot because of the Centennial tie. I wouldn't have any complaints with someone who flipped them, though.

alcloseshaver
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Post by alcloseshaver » Mon Dec 28, 2015 8:48 am

Agree with your thoughts on Rapids and ER but 6-2 is 6-2 and that is why they keep score. Makes no sense to move these 2 at least for another week. Unless of course you are trying to soften up the rivals. :wink:

northwoods oldtimer
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Post by northwoods oldtimer » Mon Dec 28, 2015 9:24 am

alcloseshaver wrote:Agree with your thoughts on Rapids and ER but 6-2 is 6-2 and that is why they keep score. Makes no sense to move these 2 at least for another week. Unless of course you are trying to soften up the rivals. :wink:
The DJ can't make enough excuses for that 6-2 beat down.

FadedRedLine
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Post by FadedRedLine » Tue Dec 29, 2015 9:11 am

Watched Elk River yesterday and think they have a ton of potential - top 10 team for sure by end of season.

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Post by HShockeywatcher » Wed Dec 30, 2015 10:00 pm

I would throw Rosemount into the discussion as a team worth mentioning. Their losses are to #4 Lakeville North, #6 Prior Lake, #15 St Thomas, #20? Farmington, and Apple Valley by 1 on the road with a win over Eastview. They just beat Breck and Mahtomedi each by a score of 3-2 in back to back games to win the Schwan's Silver Cup.

I doubt they'll be ranked in the near future, but given that 3 of their 5 losses were all by 1 goal, I wouldn't count them out just yet. I also wouldn't be surprised to see them with a top 4 seed in section 3AA.

Hockeywatcher123
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Post by Hockeywatcher123 » Wed Dec 30, 2015 10:11 pm

HShockeywatcher wrote:I would throw Rosemount into the discussion as a team worth mentioning. Their losses are to #4 Lakeville North, #6 Prior Lake, #15 St Thomas, #20? Farmington, and Apple Valley by 1 on the road with a win over Eastview. They just beat Breck and Mahtomedi each by a score of 3-2 in back to back games to win the Schwan's Silver Cup.

I doubt they'll be ranked in the near future, but given that 3 of their 5 losses were all by 1 goal, I wouldn't count them out just yet. I also wouldn't be surprised to see them with a top 4 seed in section 3AA.

I watched them play STA in their first game of the year and I was impressed. They are a team that is a real upset threat in 3AA. I doubt they will make state, but if they keep improving could be a surprise section final team in a wide open 3AA.

HILARY2016
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Post by HILARY2016 » Thu Dec 31, 2015 12:44 am

HShockeywatcher wrote:I would throw Rosemount into the discussion as a team worth mentioning. Their losses are to #4 Lakeville North, #6 Prior Lake, #15 St Thomas, #20? Farmington, and Apple Valley by 1 on the road with a win over Eastview. They just beat Breck and Mahtomedi each by a score of 3-2 in back to back games to win the Schwan's Silver Cup.

I doubt they'll be ranked in the near future, but given that 3 of their 5 losses were all by 1 goal, I wouldn't count them out just yet. I also wouldn't be surprised to see them with a top 4 seed in section 3AA.
Shirley you can't be serious? This is inspiring, so much to go with here.

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