AA Rankings for 1/31/16

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karl(east)
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AA Rankings for 1/31/16

Post by karl(east) » Sun Jan 31, 2016 3:48 am

With two weeks to go, we have some movement near the top. The biggest question at this point is how we judge the teams with weaker schedules against the Lake teams, all of whom are piling up the losses against one another. Here’s what I have:

1. Benilde-St. Margaret’s (20-0-1)
-The Red Knights cleared one of the three big obstacles they had left on their schedule on their way to an undefeated season, and rolled from there to become the first team to 20 wins. This week, they face on of their toughest tests of the regular season, as they visit Eden Prairie on Saturday.
This week: Thurs at Chaska, Sat at #5 Eden Prairie

2. Holy Family (16-3)
-The Fire have burned their way through the Wright County Conference, and now head on the road for three nonconference games that get steadily more difficult. I don’t feel great about moving up a team whose toughest opponent in recent memory was Delano, but they face enough good teams over the next two weeks to either solidify this spot or send them plummeting. The Rapids game, their first against a ranked team in over a month, will be a good measuring stick for a team that’s been tough to compare to others lately.
This week: Tues at Hopkins, Fri at Duluth Marshall, Sat at #11 Grand Rapids

3. Stillwater (19-1-1)
-The Ponies shut out Mahtomedi and continued their steady march through the Suburban East. They’ve got two more likely conference wins upcoming before a somewhat tougher final week.
This week: Thurs vs. Forest Lake, Sat at Woodbury

4. Blaine (16-4)
-The Bengals got back into a winning groove against Northwest Suburban competition. This week, they wrap up conference play against three of the weak teams in it that they only play once. With wins by 3 and 4 goals against Maple Grove already on the books, their next genuinely tough game may come in the section final.
This week: Tues vs. Armstrong/Cooper, Thurs vs. Irondale, Sat at Coon Rapids

5. Eden Prairie (15-5-1)
-The Eagles had an ugly week with losses to Edina and Wayzata, and seem to be fading back into the pack. The defense has been mediocre, and the line juggling continues up front; it’s getting very late in the season to seem so unsettled. Putting Mittelstadt and Graham on the same line has hurt their depth, and they just seem overly dependent on their stars. The pieces are still here to win it all, and a win over Benilde this week would change this tune in a hurry, but for now, there are a lot more question marks than there should be.
This week: Thurs at #10 Minnetonka, St vs. #1 Benilde-St. Margaret’s

6. Wayzata (14-6-1)
-For all of the Trojans’ seeming drama, they finally seem to be putting it all together, and have beaten four ranked teams on their current five-game winning streak. They’re playing lockdown Wayzata defense, and are now scoring with enough regularity to win some big games. They’ve still got three very tough regular season games, so they could yet swing either way, but for now, this team looks like it’s putting it all together.
This week: Thurs vs. #8 Edina, Sat vs. #10 Minnetonka

7. Bemidji (17-2-2)
-A statement win over Hill shows the Lumberjacks can take down another top team in style, and they took care of business against other 8AA competition later in the week. I still have a few questions here, given the schedule and occasional hiccups against weaker teams, but there’s a lot to like about these Lumberjacks. Three games this week, but none should be very difficult.
This week: Tues at Brainerd, Thurs vs. Warroad, Sat vs. Sartell

8. Edina (13-7-2)
-Just when the Hornets seemed to be slipping off the radar some, they come up with a big win over Eden Prairie, and remind the state that they’ll be lurking come playoff time. With Clayton Phillips at forward they have two good lines, and if the Ben Brinkman-reinforced defense holds up, they could be scary. Since a semifinal clash is likely, this week’s game with Wayzata could be big for their playoff confidence. Their three remaining games are all against top ten teams, so if they win a couple of them, look out.
This week: Thurs at #6 Wayzata

9. Lakeville North (14-5-1)
-Slaughtered Apple Valley, but needed overtime to scrape by Rosemount, so the jury remains out on this team, and they’re this week’s loser in the “dropping despite winning” lottery that seems to happen every week. For all their talent, they don’t seem to be turning it on right now. They can fix that with a big week this week, as they face rival South on Hockey Day and head north for an outdoor state championship rematch.
This week: Thurs at Lakeville South, Sat at #14 Duluth East

10. Minnetonka (15-6)
-Gave Benilde a decent game, but fell short, and rebounded with a big win over Hopkins. After another viewing, they just don’t seem to have the go-to offensive guns of many other top ten teams, so they drop a bit, but they can reverse that easily with a strong finish. All of their remaining games come against ranked opponents.
This week: Thurs vs. #5 Eden Prairie, Sat at #6 Wayzata

11. Grand Rapids (15-6-1)
-The Thunderhawks came from behind to take down Moorhead in their lone game this past week. They still seem to have some wobbly moments in back, but they’re on a nice streak now, with just two losses since the Edina Holiday Classic. They have one serious opponent left, but it’s an intriguing one in an outdoor game against a highly ranked team that hasn’t been tested in a while.
This week: Sat vs. Hopkins, Sat vs. #2 Holy Family

12. Hill-Murray (13-6-2)
-It’s been a rough stretch for the Pioneers, as they lost a second straight ugly game to a top ten team and tied a Mahtomedi team that they beat in December. A second win over St. Thomas would help restore some order.
This week: Thurs at Simley, Sat at #13 St. Thomas Academy

13. St. Thomas Academy (13-5-4)
-A couple shutout wins over middling opponents keep the Cadets rolling; they drop only because their recent quality opponents, Eden Prairie and Hill, have not been doing much of note lately. The week ahead is huge, as they take on the two Metro East teams that have beaten them this season.
This week: Tues at Mahtomedi, Sat vs. #12 Hill-Murray

14. Duluth East (12-7)
-East continues to take care of business down the stretch, as they blew out Anoka and then took down Elk River to climb back into the conversation for a high seed in 7AA. They have a busy final two weeks, and the next seven days include games with a section rival that beat them in December and a Hockey Day clash with North.
This week: Mon vs. Cloquet, Thurs vs. Hopkins, Sat vs. #9 Lakeville North

15. Elk River (13-7-1)
-The Elks are missing bodies, so it’s hard to know how much to read into this recent 2-3 run; they also got a pretty strong win over Centennial. Still, it seems like they’re not controlling games as much as they were early on, and they’ve never really been healthy, either. They’ll still be a very dangerous team come sections if they get everyone back on the ice. This should be a good recovery week.
This week: Wed vs. Osseo, Sat at Irondale

Bubble Teams

Prior Lake (15-6)
-The Lakers motored past Burnsville and Eastview, continuing a strong run of improved defense. They may lack big wins, but they get points for consistency, and with some cracks at the top of the 2AA, they may yet make some noise in sections. Farmington awaits this week.

Centennial (14-6-1)
-The Cougars fell to shorthanded Elk River despite a large shot edge, but bounced back to use Brainerd as a punching bag. They don’t have any real difficult games left, so they should cruise from here, and will likely remain on the cusp of the top 15 heading into sections.

Lakeville South (13-6-1)
-A second win over Farmington, this one in blowout fashion, puts the Cougars back in contention and wraps up an 8-1-1 month of January. This week’s rematch with Lakeville North will be the true test of their progress.

Burnsville (9-10-2)
-Despite the record, the Blaze continue to play better teams very close. This week they can wrap up the 2-seed in 3AA if they take care of business against a couple of teams just off this watch list in Eastview and Rosemount.

Farmington (12-7-1)
-An ugly loss to Lakeville South halts the Tigers’ recent momentum, and will likely cost them the top seed in 1AA. They don’t have an easy week ahead of them, as Hermantown and Prior Lake come to pay visits.

Moorhead (12-9)
-Gave Grand Rapids a pretty decent fight before falling, so the Spuds continue to hover around the top 20. Up next: a finally healthy East Grand Forks in a game that will be instructive for both teams.

St. Michael-Albertville (13-6-2)
-Flattened East Ridge, but lost to Bemidji in a game that could have made 8AA more interesting. A road game against a decent Anoka team has implications for the rankings bubble.

Anoka (10-9)
-Restored some order after their six-game losing streak with victories over Andover and Maple Grove. STMA poses a challenge this week, and their game with Spring Lake Park has some relevance for 5AA. Barring a bad result in one of their remaining section games, they should have the 3-seed nailed down.

Next week, we’ll have one last set of rankings and section seed predictions before the final set comes out in two weeks. Lots of great games this week, so get out and enjoy some.

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Post by SuperStar » Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:07 am

5. Eden Prairie (15-5-1)
-The Eagles had an ugly week with losses to Edina and Wayzata, and seem to be fading back into the pack. The defense has been mediocre, and the line juggling continues up front; it’s getting very late in the season to seem so unsettled. Putting Mittelstadt and Graham on the same line has hurt their depth, and they just seem overly dependent on their stars. T


EP's problems are all coaching, IMO.

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Post by northwoods oldtimer » Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:15 am

Impressed by the Wayzata turn around on the season. as much grief as the head coach takes he has done a remarkable job turning up the defensive game. Their style bodes well for a long playoff run.

Teams have easily solved EP and expect that to continue.

East is trending up lately with big scoring numbers. 7AA should be a fun event come playoff Saturday.

Bemidji will have hands full with Moorhead in playoffs. Spuds not a flashy team but do not give you much on a small ice sheet.

Sure would be cool to have a best of 3 series for section finals match ups. Never mind we are dealing with MSHSL :cry:

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Post by GOPHERFAN119 » Sun Jan 31, 2016 6:33 am

Karl - What if Wayzata beats Edina (Thurs), Mtka (Sat) and BSM (xext week), would they get the #1 seed in Section 6 ? All games are at PIC. Again, it is a big if, but curious for your insights ?

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Post by GoldenBear » Sun Jan 31, 2016 6:44 am

Yes Oldtimer funny how if you settle on lines and kids are playing their right positions wayzata has the talent to do something. Pretty impressive run they are on wins at Edina at ep at Rapids and at Tonka. Well done Oleary and players. I was at last nights game and even though EP was the home team Oleary did good job putting out players to shut down Casey and Graham. One point for them. Schilling played well and is in a good groove. Good goaltending good defense and timely scoring is a good recipe for success. GB

karl(east)
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Post by karl(east) » Sun Jan 31, 2016 6:48 am

GOPHERFAN119 wrote:Karl - What if Wayzata beats Edina (Thurs), Mtka (Sat) and BSM (xext week), would they get the #1 seed in Section 6 ? All games are at PIC. Again, it is a big if, but curious for your insights ?
It's a good question; they'll certainly have an argument for it. I would only give them the 1 if Benilde loses another game, though (the EP game being the only serious candidate). I think BSM has done enough to earn one mulligan, even if it does come against a section team. If they lose two, though, then there's definitely an argument that they're fading at the end while Wayzata surges, so the Trojans could get #1.

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Post by Sats81 » Sun Jan 31, 2016 2:41 pm

Karl-

Can you explain how Duluth East isn't ranked #1? Or at least top 3? They do only have 7 losses thus far....

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Post by karl(east) » Sun Jan 31, 2016 6:34 pm

Sats81 wrote:Karl-

Can you explain how Duluth East isn't ranked #1? Or at least top 3? They do only have 7 losses thus far....
Can't put them that high until after they've beaten mighty Lakeville North, of course. :wink:

Sats81
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Post by Sats81 » Mon Feb 01, 2016 2:20 am

karl(east) wrote:
Sats81 wrote:Karl-

Can you explain how Duluth East isn't ranked #1? Or at least top 3? They do only have 7 losses thus far....
Can't put them that high until after they've beaten mighty Lakeville North, of course. :wink:
Yeah. Can you tell Randolph to please take his foot off the gas a little bit like Eigs and the boys did last yr in state championship?

Would like to add the outdoor game to LN resume of different venues they beat the #1 and top rated hounds in...going back to feb 2014....Sill, Ames, the X.....

In all seriousness I strongly dislike these types of games. Anything can happen with the elements and I won't put much into the final result no matter what the score ends up being. I do think it will be an advantage to Duluth Easts put you to sleep, clutch and grab, boring systemiZed style though. (No excuses here at all) just saying it like it is. Anyone who disagrees, fine, but I just don't enjoy Randolph style hockey.

I'm still not convinced either team is that good.

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Post by karl(east) » Mon Feb 01, 2016 3:32 am

Sats81 wrote:In all seriousness I strongly dislike these types of games. Anything can happen with the elements and I won't put much into the final result no matter what the score ends up being. I do think it will be an advantage to Duluth Easts put you to sleep, clutch and grab, boring systemiZed style though. (No excuses here at all) just saying it like it is. Anyone who disagrees, fine, but I just don't enjoy Randolph style hockey.

I'm still not convinced either team is that good.
Alright, in defense of "Randolph style hockey," the trap game is just one tool in the arsenal, and one they only use when either a) playing a noticeably more skilled team or b) protecting a late lead. If you look at the playoff run last year:

-They played quality puck possession hockey for two periods against Rapids before going into a shell in the 3rd (and playing very poorly, and getting rescued by their goalie)
-Basically by necessity, they were attacking the entire Elk River game
-They attacked the entire STA game and outshot the Cadets pretty comfortably
-They skated up and down the ice with Edina, again outshooting them for a spell, before grabbing the lead and then settling into the trap (which they executed superbly)
-They played defensively the entire LN game out of necessity, with the hope of keeping it close and then trying to spring a few at the end. It didn't work, but it was the only way that group was going to keep that game interesting.

The Hounds are very capable of pushing the pace and playing puck possession hockey if they want to. They did that very effectively against Elk River on Saturday. I could see them going either way against LN; maybe they want to grind out the win in the elements, or maybe they want to try to use this as a coming out party to show the state that they're back. The idea is to have either option at their disposal come playoff time, depending on the situation. Doesn't mean it will work, but they have options.

You're not convinced LN is that good? That's a change in tune from earlier in the season, no?

Sats81
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Post by Sats81 » Mon Feb 01, 2016 4:17 am

karl(east) wrote:
Sats81 wrote:In all seriousness I strongly dislike these types of games. Anything can happen with the elements and I won't put much into the final result no matter what the score ends up being. I do think it will be an advantage to Duluth Easts put you to sleep, clutch and grab, boring systemiZed style though. (No excuses here at all) just saying it like it is. Anyone who disagrees, fine, but I just don't enjoy Randolph style hockey.

I'm still not convinced either team is that good.
Alright, in defense of "Randolph style hockey," the trap game is just one tool in the arsenal, and one they only use when either a) playing a noticeably more skilled team or b) protecting a late lead. If you look at the playoff run last year:

-They played quality puck possession hockey for two periods against Rapids before going into a shell in the 3rd (and playing very poorly, and getting rescued by their goalie)
-Basically by necessity, they were attacking the entire Elk River game
-They attacked the entire STA game and outshot the Cadets pretty comfortably
-They skated up and down the ice with Edina, again outshooting them for a spell, before grabbing the lead and then settling into the trap (which they executed superbly)
-They played defensively the entire LN game out of necessity, with the hope of keeping it close and then trying to spring a few at the end. It didn't work, but it was the only way that group was going to keep that game interesting.

The Hounds are very capable of pushing the pace and playing puck possession hockey if they want to. They did that very effectively against Elk River on Saturday. I could see them going either way against LN; maybe they want to grind out the win in the elements, or maybe they want to try to use this as a coming out party to show the state that they're back. The idea is to have either option at their disposal come playoff time, depending on the situation. Doesn't mean it will work, but they have options.

You're not convinced LN is that good? That's a change in tune from earlier in the season, no?
Giving you a hard time on East. They are probably better coached then any team in MN. I truly don't believe anyone gets more out of what he has than Mike Randolph.

Depends on which North team decides to show up. I knew, despite their record Rosemount would be a tough out and I think its silly you dropped them 2 spots despite winning both games last week, as a win is a win...but hey, its your rankings and your opinions. Not sure if this team has the killer instinct of the teams of the past 2 years (which was really their identity)...but losing the Sedins and 3-4 D1 caliber D men will do that.

I would argue with anyone that they are top 5 in MN, but how good is the top 5 this year? Not that good.

I think anything can happen in the last 5 weeks here..I wouldn't be entirely blown away if they fell in Section 1AA (something that never would have happened last few years), but I wouldn't be surprised to see them win it all again either.

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Post by karl(east) » Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:08 am

Sats81 wrote:Depends on which North team decides to show up. I knew, despite their record Rosemount would be a tough out and I think its silly you dropped them 2 spots despite winning both games last week, as a win is a win...but hey, its your rankings and your opinions. Not sure if this team has the killer instinct of the teams of the past 2 years (which was really their identity)...but losing the Sedins and 3-4 D1 caliber D men will do that.

I would argue with anyone that they are top 5 in MN, but how good is the top 5 this year? Not that good.

I think anything can happen in the last 5 weeks here..I wouldn't be entirely blown away if they fell in Section 1AA (something that never would have happened last few years), but I wouldn't be surprised to see them win it all again either.
No disagreement, really. The talent is there and they control games as well as anyone, but the rankings are pretty heavily dependent on quality wins, and the SSC just doesn't provide as many opportunities as usual this year. They also don't seem to be scoring as much in their recent games against good teams. Maybe it's just a mini-drought, maybe it's the lack of killer instinct...anyway, it's worth watching. I haven't seen them since St. Louis Park, so Saturday should be interesting.

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