AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

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AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by karl(east) » Wed Nov 13, 2019 7:19 am

Welcome to season 11 of these rankings! The first in-season set will come out on December 1.

1. Eden Prairie
-The Eagles return a superb core of talent who are now mostly juniors, and add Mason Langenbrunner and Jackson Blake to the mix for good measure. No team can match the high-end talent of Mittelstadts and Drew Holt and Carter Batchelder, but they do need some new faces to perform well enough to round out the roster and match the teams filled with returning talent. This program, which has seen its season end at the hands of the eventual state champion in four of the past five seasons, should have that depth. We’ll see how well that depth can cohere for the defending runners-up, who were so close to pulling off a stunner in the state final a season ago. They open against one of the Mr. Hockey frontrunners.
Schedule: 11/30 vs. Cretin-Derham Hall

2. Benilde-St. Margaret’s
-The Red Knights bring back basically everyone from a team that moved toward serious contention a season ago. They’ve got a single star at each position, as Blake Mesenburg leads a potent offense and Nate Schweitzer headlines the defense, and they have the best-pedigreed goaltender of the top few teams in Carson Limesand. They may be the most complete team on paper, though their star-powered defensive core is on the young side; if they can come together and the offense has enough scoring depth, they can surpass Eden Prairie for the top spot. They’re looking for their first Tourney trip since the 2012 state title, and will have a chance to set the tone in 6AA with an early match-up against the defending champs. First, however, is a road trip north.
Schedule: 11/22 at Duluth Marshall, 11/23 at Grand Rapids, 11/25 vs. #10 Edina

3. Andover
-The Huskies boast perhaps the best defensive corps in the state, a senior-laden group headlined by Wyatt Kaiser, and return exceptional forward depth. They did lose their two leading scorers from a season ago, but a strong Elite League campaign from Luke Kron should ease some concerns about any offensive dropoff (once he returns from injury, that is). If they can get quality goaltending, they’ll be right there with the top two. They have some demons to exorcise in the 7AA playoffs, but the competition this season is not what it was the past two: the time to break through is now. They open with an interesting home-and-home against another rising power in Blake.
Schedule: 11/21 at #8 Blake, 11/23 vs. #8 Blake, 11/30 at Moorhead

4. Rosemount
-Like Andover, the Irish have never made a AA State Tournament, but if there were ever a time, it is now, with the program peaking in talent and its chief section rival in a downswing. The return eight of their top 10 scorers from a season ago, including a high-scoring duo of Connor Kenefick and Luke Levandowski. Junior defenseman Jake Ratzlaff leads a defense that could be every bit as good as Andover’s. They’ll need to develop some offensive depth to be on the level of the teams above them, but they’re certainly a contender. Their opener against Minnetonka will be a valuable proving ground on a schedule with a limited supply of nonconference games.
Schedule: 11/23 at #6 Minnetonka, 11/26 vs. East Ridge, 11/30 vs. Bloomington Jefferson

5. Maple Grove
-The Crimson add a second consecutive loaded upcoming bantam team, which is obviously a formula for contention. The bad news: they’ve lost a lot of top-end talent off those teams, so while they’re still plenty deep with quality and have a serious star in Kyle Kukkonen, there are some real questions as to how well they match up with some of the more experienced, talent-laden teams populating the top ten. Are the Crimson rising into a high school power, or will this be a missed window? A season opener against Edina gives them an immediate chance to make an impression; on paper, they’re the best team in the Turkey Trot.
Schedule: Wayzata Turkey Trot—11/22 vs. #10 Edina, 11/23 vs. #14 Moorhead/#11 Wayzata; 11/29 vs. Roseau

6. Minnetonka
-The Skippers boast their customary deep lineup, and while they don’t have the heaps of returning talent that the teams ahead of them boast, Hunter Newhouse and Teddy Lagerback provide some punch, and this team will likely get a playoff crack against a very familiar rival, which isn’t a bad formula for getting into a State Tourney as a battle-tested favorite. If the new-look defense comes together, they’ll have a fighting chance at Eden Prairie in 2AA. Rosemount poses an immediate challenge, and they follow that with a road trip to Itasca County.
Schedule: 11/23 vs. #4 Rosemount, 11/29 at Grand Rapids, 11/30 at Greenway

7. Blaine
-The Bengals feature perhaps the top offensive weapon on a top AA team in Carson Richels and return respectable depth from a team that contended for a state title a season ago. They don’t overwhelm in any one area beyond that but have no obvious weaknesses either, and if they can get good goaltending, they could be in contention again. They open against a couple of bluebloods and will have a chance to prove their worth.
Schedule: 11/27 at #9 Hill-Murray, 11/29 at #10 Edina

8. Blake
-The loss of Tristan Broz may cost the Bears a chance at something truly special, but they remain deep with returning talent and could yet emerge as Benilde’s top threat in a crowded 6AA. As with a number of top ten teams, some of their most serious talent is on the blue line in the likes of Will Svenddal and Ben Dexheimer. Can Rob McClanahan do something special with this group and get it to a first AA Tourney? The home-and-home opener with Andover is a good start to a noticeably upgraded schedule, and they’ve got St. Thomas the following week, too.
Schedule: 11/21 vs. #3 Andover, 11/23 at #3 Andover, 11/26 vs. Chaska, 11/30 vs. #13 St. Thomas Academy

9. Hill-Murray
-There are a lot of parts to like to like on this Hill team. Goaltender Remington Keopple is on the Brimsek award short list, and Charlie Strobel and a healthy Nick Pierre will be a formidable top duo. The defense is decent, isn’t quite world-class without Brett Oberle. Still, with enough secondary scoring, the Pioneers could be in a position to get back to State and do some damage there for the first time since 2013. Blaine offers them a good opening challenge.
Schedule: 11/27 vs. #7 Blaine

10. Edina
-The defending state champs have their work cut out for them to defend their section crown after a spate of graduations. There is still some talent here, particularly on the blue line, where Jake Boltmann and Nick Williams lead the way. If the offense can round into form, this team has the program depth to climb back into things; by Edina standards, the youth teams that are currently upperclassmen have not been among their best groups to come through. It’ll be sink or swim right out of the gate, as the early schedule is customarily nasty between the Turkey Trot and a couple of other top ten opponents.
Schedule: Wayzata Turkey Trot—11/22 vs. #5 Maple Grove, 11/23 vs. #14 Moorhead/#11 Wayzata; 11/25 at #2 Benilde-St. Margaret’s, 11/29 vs. #7 Blaine

11. Wayzata
-Trojans will be Trojans: while they graduate their top scoring talent from a season ago, they have a good collection of veterans within the system. It could be a challenge for them to stand out in this section given its depth. As usual, they have a chance to make an impression in their Turkey Trot tournament, which features a change in the participants for the first time in many years, and they also make an early road trip north.
Schedule: Wayzata Turkey Trot—11/22 vs. #14 Moorhead, 11/23 vs. #10 Edina/#5 Maple Grove; 11/29 at Hermantown, 11/30 at Duluth East

12. Lakeville South
-A young group carried the Cougars to a strong quarterfinal showing at State a season ago, and a good chunk of that core is back to defend their title. A lot of those players will need to take the next step to get this group up toward the top ten, and they have a hole to fill in goal, too. But for the time being, they’re the team to beat in 1AA, and they have another quality bantam group coming up, too. They continue their early season perspective-providing series with Hermantown after Thanksgiving.
Schedule: 11/27 at Chanhassen, 11/30 vs. Hermantown

13. St. Thomas Academy
-The Cadets join Edina in the ranks of top programs that lost a ton off their roster from a season ago and also enter a new coaching era as Trent Eigner slides up from Lakeville. Jackson Hallum is their next offensive star, but beyond that, they’ll need some young talent to come along and give them a shot at a fourth straight Tourney. Thanksgiving weekend dates with a couple of private school rivals will test them.
Schedule: 11/23 at Eastivew, 11/29 vs. Cretin-Derham Hall, 11/30 vs. #8 Blake

14. Moorhead
-The Spuds lose a lot of the firepower off of last season’s State Tourney entrant, but return a strong defenseman in Luke Gramer, a quality supporting cast, and one of the state’s better goaltenders in Hudson Hodges. As a new entrant to the Turkey Trot, they’ll have an early chance to show they belong among the ranked, and it doesn’t get much easier after that with a section game and a battle with Andover.
Schedule: Wayzata Turkey Trot—11/22 vs. #11 Wayzata, 11/23 vs. #10 Edina/#5 Maple Grove, 11/26 vs. Brainerd, 11/30 vs. #3 Andover

15. White Bear Lake
-The Bears return a number of respectable pieces at forward from a State Tourney team a season ago. As with last season’s team, they should be able to put together two productive lines; the questions are more on the back end, where they’ll be a contender again if they can fill some gaps left by graduation. Duluth East offers their first test of any magnitude.
Schedule: 11/23 at Irondale, 11/29 vs. Duluth East

The Next Ten

Stillwater
-The Ponies didn’t have an overly memorable season last year, but they do bring back pretty much everyone of consequence, and this group had some success in the youth ranks. If they can put things together, they’ll be a contender in 4AA. As usual, the schedule is backloaded, and they don’t start until the first week of December.

Centennial
-After a rebuild last season, the Cougars look to return to relevance. They return reasonably good depth and have added Coon Rapids’ Carls brothers to round out an improving lineup. The start the season a few steps behind Blaine and Maple Grove in 5AA, but it’s not crazy to picture them climbing into the picture by season’s end. Their only game in the first two weeks comes against Roseau.

Grand Rapids
-The Thunderhawks lose their top scorer but bring back their next nine, and with some real young talent in that group coupled with some upcoming bantams who can make an immediate impact, they’re in a position to be Andover’s chief challenger for the 7AA crown. They had an October Surprise coaching change and are probably still a year away from being a statewide contender; we’ll see how much they improve over the course of the season and if we can get a sense of their ceiling. Early barometers against Benilde and Minnetonka could be revealing.

Chaska
-This Hawks group doesn’t quite have the star power of a season ago, but Shane Lavelle and Nick Olmscheid give them some punch, and this program is approaching the point where they have the ability to fill gaps and remain in contention. They open with Cloquet before facing a test against Blake.

Lakeville North
-The Panthers enter a new era Caden Smith is their headliner, and beyond that they have enough depth to give rival South a run for the section. After an opener with Northfield, Holy Family and Chaska in the YHH Opener offer a couple of mid-range opponents that will give us some context on them.

Roseau
-The Rams have some good front-end forward punch led by Paul Huglen, and some respectable young talent coming up. The big questions are in back, where they’ll need to reload on defense and in goal; if they can reach a respectable level there, they’ll have the best crack at Moorhead in 8AA. Thief River Falls is up first, followed by their lone metro road trip of the season to face a couple of 5AA foes, Maple Grove and Centennial.

St. Michael-Albertville
-I like the Knights as a sleeper pick: they bring back six of their top seven scorers from a season ago, including the dynamic duo of Luc Laylin and Adam Flammang up front. A senior class that has played in a State Tournament has a chance to make its final mark on a steadily improving program that will get to run the Lake Conference gauntlet for the first time this season. First, though, they have some winnable games against Champlin Park and Prior Lake.

Duluth East
-Graduation and early departures make for a very inexperienced Hounds squad lacking in much upper-class high-end talent. This organization is deep enough that they won’t go completely off a cliff; they have some interesting younger talent stockpiled at all positions, and their system can help equalize some talent gaps. An early road trip to White Bear and Wayzata will give some perspective on how much of a rebuild this will be.

Cretin-Derham Hall
-The Raiders have the Matt Gleason show ready to roll, but he lost most of his supporting cast off a team that struggled to break through a season ago, which leaves a lot of questions about where the support will come from. Do they have any young talent that can come up and make a difference? They start tough against rival St. Thomas and top-ranked Eden Prairie.

Buffalo
-The Braccini brothers lead the way offensively for the Bison, and they return a decent amount on defense to support them. Any semblance of depth and a quality goaltender to replace the graduated Nathan Mueller will be vital to their chances at contention. Like rival STMA, they have a chance to do something with their Lake debut and make a play in a competitive 8AA. Their first three games are in the section, including Rogers and Brainerd the week of Thanksgiving.

Hovering: Eagan, Hastings, Holy Family, Elk River, Prior Lake

And now, as usual, a tour of the sections. This feature will begin its bi-weekly appearances on December 15.

1AA
12 Lakeville South
20 Lakeville North
Hastings
Rochester Century
-South’s young core has the defending section champs favored here, but North is also right there, and the two teams from further afield that were knocking on the door a season ago bring back enough talent to merit our attention, with Hastings in particular showing some flashes last season that had me seriously considering a top 25 spot for them. There is, thankfully, one crossover game between the Lakevilles and the would-be usurpers this season, as North hosts Hastings in the season’s final week. Until then, things will be highly speculative given their very different schedules. The Lakevilles meet for the first time on December 12.

2AA
1 Eden Prairie
6 Minnetonka
19 Chaska
Holy Family
-After years of being one of the deeper sections in the state, this looks more like a two-horse race between the Lake powers this season. Chaska returns enough talent to be a likely 3-seed; Holy Family, fresh off a surprise section final appearance, has a couple of skilled forwards but lost a lot of depth and didn’t acquire new talent in the way it has in past offseasons. Prior Lake, another fringe team, lost practically everything off a middling team a season ago, but did have a high-end bantam team a season ago. On paper this is Eden Prairie’s section, but a deep Minnetonka team could certainly trip up the Eagles.

3AA
4 Rosemount
13 St. Thomas Academy
Eagan
Burnsville
-Rosemount’s moment has arrived, as the Irish peak while St. Thomas drops off somewhat. Eagan could certainly climb into the top 25 this season, though they need to find Johnny Meiers some friends to help carry the load. We’ll see if anyone else can emerge here, as this section usually musters a deep tier of respectable teams; Burnsville has a respectable core back, and Eastview and Bloomington Jefferson are hovering somewhere in there, too. The bigger section seeding games all come in the new year.

4AA
9 Hill-Murray
15 White Bear Lake
16 Stillwater
East Ridge
-This section looks to be on the upswing, with Hill, White Bear, and Stillwater all returning good cores of talent. As usual, a three-team race makes the top seed especially attractive, so the December meeting between Hill and White Bear may take on added meaning. No one beyond the top three stands out as a threat to join at this point.

5AA
5 Maple Grove
7 Blaine
17 Centennial
Totino-Grace
-As with 4AA, this looks to be a three-team race in an improving section. We’ll see if Centennial can complete its rebuild in a single season and join the top two here. Totino is the somewhat interesting next team in line as they look to begin their AA rise, but this section gets pretty thin beyond that.The first meeting among the big three features Centennial and Maple Grove on December 13.

6AA
2 Benilde-St. Margaret’s
8 Blake
10 Edina
11 Wayzata
24 Cretin-Derham Hall
-6AA is the state’s deepest and most interesting section. Benilde has enough horses for frontrunner status, but after that, there are three teams within a few spots of each other scrapping for positioning, plus the small matter of Matt Gleason and Cretin lurking behind them, and Holy Angels should continue to improve as well. Benilde and Edina will meet just before Thanksgiving to give us an early flavor of the race, and as usual, there’s a chance of a meeting between the Hornets and Wayzata in the Turkey Trot.

7AA
3 Andover
18 Grand Rapids
23 Duluth East
Elk River
-This is Andover’s window, period: the Huskies should be on par with where they were last season, while their competition in this section (namely East) is not. Beyond the clear number one, it’s an interesting section with rising Rapids, rebuilding East, a Cloquet team with something to prove, and Elk River, which has a couple of quality players. East and Andover have their section final grudge match on December 7.

8AA
14 Moorhead
21 Roseau
22 St. Michael-Albertville
25 Buffalo
-Defending champion Moorhead seems to be the favorite here, but there’s an interesting collection of teams nipping at their heels. Roseau, STMA, and Buffalo all boast a couple of quality forwards who can light the lamp; the question will be one of who can back that up with the most depth and defense. Roseau, Buffalo, and Moorhead all open with a whole bunch of section games, including contests against one another, so we should establish a pecking order here faster than we do in most sections.

GoldenBear
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by GoldenBear » Wed Nov 13, 2019 8:10 am

Well done Karl! Thanks for the great write-up. Looking forward to a fun Turkey Trot Weekend to get things going. GB

kniven
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by kniven » Wed Nov 13, 2019 10:38 am

Well done. Your 7AA analysts is spot on....unfortunately 😯
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formersection3Afan
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by formersection3Afan » Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:08 pm

FACT CHECK 1992
4. Rosemount
-Like Andover, the Irish have never made a State Tournament,

elliott70
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by elliott70 » Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:51 pm

formersection3Afan wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:08 pm
FACT CHECK 1992
4. Rosemount
-Like Andover, the Irish have never made a State Tournament,
You are correct but it was Tier 2 which some people don't really count.

kniven
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by kniven » Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:44 pm

EP the most talented team on paper in the last 30 years?
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WarmUpTheBus
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by WarmUpTheBus » Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:02 pm

kniven wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:44 pm
EP the most talented team on paper in the last 30 years?
Lakeville North 2014-15 team that went undefeated was pretty good

Stang5280
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by Stang5280 » Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:15 pm

elliott70 wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:51 pm
formersection3Afan wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:08 pm
FACT CHECK 1992
4. Rosemount
-Like Andover, the Irish have never made a State Tournament,
You are correct but it was Tier 2 which some people don't really count.
Also after a ONE WIN regular season, which pretty much sealed the fate of the two-tier system right off the bat.

kniven
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by kniven » Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:54 pm

Stang5280 wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:15 pm
elliott70 wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:51 pm
formersection3Afan wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:08 pm
FACT CHECK 1992
4. Rosemount
-Like Andover, the Irish have never made a State Tournament,
You are correct but it was Tier 2 which some people don't really count.
Also after a ONE WIN regular season, which pretty much sealed the fate of the two-tier system right off the bat.
A one win regular season squad that made it to the state championship game?
“218 hockey” Boys of the NOrth ❤️

Stang5280
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by Stang5280 » Wed Nov 13, 2019 4:09 pm

kniven wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:54 pm
A one win regular season squad that made it to the state championship game?
Which made it even more of a farce (sorry for derailing your thread, Karl).

greenwayraider
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by greenwayraider » Wed Nov 13, 2019 4:16 pm

Stang5280 wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 4:09 pm
kniven wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:54 pm
A one win regular season squad that made it to the state championship game?
Which made it even more of a farce (sorry for derailing your thread, Karl).
They got smoked by Greenway in the finals. The Section 7 tournament was a lot tougher than the State Tier 2 tournament.

kniven
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by kniven » Wed Nov 13, 2019 4:35 pm

I liked Karl’s Grand Rapids, trol, pick and Tony’s Wayzata pick. Danny did a fine show.
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Nuts&Bolts
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by Nuts&Bolts » Wed Nov 13, 2019 4:55 pm

Deep breath in and exhale. Ahhh, they're back and it's about time. Bless you Karl. =D>

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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by O-townClown » Wed Nov 13, 2019 6:52 pm

kniven wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:44 pm
EP the most talented team on paper in the last 30 years?
No. Those Jefferson teams in the 90s certainly merit mention. Some Edina teams in past decade have more NHL Draft picks than this E.P. team will. They are best on paper this year, but it doesn't seem to me like they have any more than Tonka did the last two years.
Be kind. Rewind.

karl(east)
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by karl(east) » Wed Nov 13, 2019 10:43 pm

Nuts&Bolts wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 4:55 pm
Deep breath in and exhale. Ahhh, they're back and it's about time. Bless you Karl. =D>
:lol: I aim to please you all.

Yes, I suppose Rosemount has technically made a state tournament. Will edit that to say "AA."

EP has a unique amount of currently committed D-I talent, but I agree that they probably won't have as many as a number of other good teams over the past decade when all is said and done. Funnily enough, that has kind of been the trend with EP for over a decade now. Rarely if ever have they had the 7-10 D-I players you see on some of the very best teams over that stretch, but they have had an unusually high number of really, really talented players, even for a program of their size and depth.

goldy313
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by goldy313 » Fri Nov 15, 2019 11:21 pm

Rankings and seedlings can have a wide variation.....Lakeville North will not be a top 4 seed in 1AA. Owatonna gave North a good game last year and I think they return a whole lot. A sub .500 North team won’t garner much respect this year.

goldy313
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by goldy313 » Sun Nov 17, 2019 12:27 am

WarmUpTheBus wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:02 pm
kniven wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:44 pm
EP the most talented team on paper in the last 30 years?
Lakeville North 2014-15 team that went undefeated was pretty good

This!

Section 8 guy
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by Section 8 guy » Sun Nov 17, 2019 10:21 am

kniven wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:44 pm
EP the most talented team on paper in the last 30 years?
Jefferson, Centennial, Lakeville North. No.
Last edited by Section 8 guy on Sun Nov 17, 2019 4:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

HappyHockeyFan
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by HappyHockeyFan » Sun Nov 17, 2019 10:38 am

Rosemount also getting a boost from incoming bantam Charlie Strammel, will be fun to watch, he is legit.
It's not the Best players, it's the Right players! HB

goldy313
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by goldy313 » Mon Nov 18, 2019 12:01 am

Hastings conference schedule gives them STA and Hill Murray.

BodyShots
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by BodyShots » Mon Nov 18, 2019 1:58 pm

Good job Karl, although I think you are giving section 5AA a little too much respect.

WestMetro
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Re: AA Preseason Rankings 2019-2020

Post by WestMetro » Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:35 pm

Going to be very interesting to see what Karl comes up with on Sunday , with lots of early season “upsets “ within the top 10 . I see the first LPH coaches poll took some of that into account , as GR was No 10 ahead of Edina

Based on seeing 8 of the top 10 at the rink already , imho there going to be an awful lot of parity this year.

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