AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

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AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by karl(east) » Sun Feb 16, 2020 3:40 pm

We’ve made it all the way through this tumultuous season, so now I can finally have my Sunday mornings back and just enjoy some hockey now. As usual, this means a format change so I can say things about the teams relative to their sections. First, your top 25:

1. Andover (21-3-1)
2. Eden Prairie (19-5-1)
3. Moorhead (18-5-1)
4. Prior Lake (17-5-3)
5. Blake (19-6)
6. Benilde-St. Margaret’s (16-7-2)
7. Hill-Murray (16-6-3)
8. Lakeville South (18-7)
9. Cretin-Derham Hall (19-5-1)
10. Grand Rapids (17-7-1)
11. Rosemount (19-6)
12. Wayzata (14-9-2)
13. Edina (12-9-4)
14. Blaine (17-8)
15. Lakeville North (17-7-1)
16. Burnsville (15-8-2)
17. Maple Grove (17-8)
18. St. Thomas Academy (15-8-2)
19. Stillwater (18-6-1)
20. St. Michael-Albertville (12-10-3)
21. Minnetonka (12-12-1)
22. Eagan (16-9)
23. Chaska (14-9-2)
24. White Bear Lake (16-8-1)
25. Eastview (13-11-1)

And now, sections:

1AA
1st Rd 2/18 High Seed Home
QF 2/20 High Seed Home
SF 2/22 Rochester Rec Center
F 2/27 Rochester Rec Center

1. Lakeville South (18-7, #8)
-The Cougars come rolling into sections after a win over Hermantown and two convincing performances in their last two games with capable South Suburban opponents. Carried by a strong junior class, this group has good depth and some Tourney experience, and is probably the best South team since the Justin Kloos years. If they can get out of a forgiving section, they could sneak up on a few people at State.
2. Lakeville North (17-7-1, #15)
-The Panthers also plugged along to a strong finish with a win over Hastings that locked up the 2-seed and a win over a good Eagan team. They don’t quite have the depth of South, but we’ve seen how these rivalry games can break either way over the years, and a senior-led group will try to pull the upset and get back to St. Paul.
3. Hastings
-The Raiders had a respectable showing against Lakeville North in the season’s final week, but a semifinal upset would still be an uphill task and they hit enough other bumps in the road this season that they stay behind the Lakevilles in the seeding race. To even talk about beating the Lakevilles, though, they’ll need to knock off a Farmington team that tied them during the regular season.
4. Rochester Century
-The Panthers have an explosive offense, but holding up against the likes of Lakeville South, whose equal they have not seen on their very light schedule, will be an entirely different challenge.
5. Owatonna
6. Farmington
7. Northfield
8. Rochester Mayo
9. Rochester John Marshall

2AA
QF 2/20 High Seed Home
SF 2/22 Braemar
F 2/26 Mariucci

1. Prior Lake (17-5-3, #4)
-The Lakers pushed past Apple Valley in their season finale. They’ve lost just once since the start of the new year and are the surprise top seed here; they certainly don’t have Eden Prairie’s talent, but their young sophomore core has risen to the task, and they have enough depth to hang with quality teams. We’ll see if they can cash in all of their chips and make a run now that they have the benefit of a somewhat easier road.
2. Eden Prairie (19-5-1, #2)
-The Eagles are the most talented team in the state and maybe looked it for the first time in the final week of the season, as they blitzed their way past a top team in Benilde and two Lake teams, St. Michael-Albertville and Wayzata, that had given them trouble in their first meetings. No team can match the scoring power on their top two lines, so if they score at the rate they should and play good enough defense, they still should be the favorites to lift a trophy in three weeks.
3. Minnetonka (12-12-1, #21)
-It’s been an up-and-down season for the Skippers, and it’s hard to identify any one strength that this team might ride to a section title. That said, they’re on a collision course with their archnemesis in the section semifinals and have played them tough this season, and if they can pull that one out, a road to State can open before them.
4. Chaska (14-9-2, #23)
-The Hawks have flown under the radar most of the season, but a running time win over Centennial and a tie with Hill in the season’s final week show some potential heading into sections. They’ve got one of the state’s more impressive freshmen in Jimmy Snuggerud and a respectable core beyond that, and they did beat potential semifinal opponent Prior Lake back in December. First, however, they’ll have their hands full with Holy Family.
5. Holy Family
-A fringe top 25 team for much of the season, the Fire have enough firepower to give Chaska a run, and they gave Prior Lake a one-goal game during the regular season, too.
6. Chanhassen
7. Shakopee
8. New Prague

3AA
1st Rd 2/18 High Seed Home
QF 2/20 High Seed Home
SF 2/22 High Seed Home
F 2/26 Braemar

1. Rosemount (19-6, #11)
-A 5-1 loss to Burnsville doesn’t inspire much confidence for a team that has wobbled at times down the stretch. The Irish have been the frontrunner from start to finish in 3AA and boast a deep defensive corps and a handful of talents at forward; top to bottom, they are the most talented team in this section. However, they’ll have to win two tough games to secure their first ever Tourney berth. Can this group lock down the way they’re capable of and make it to St. Paul?
2. Burnsville (15-8-2, #16)
-The Blaze finished their regular season with an exclamation point by burning through section frontrunner in Rosemount. Their potent top line gives them a chance here, and they’ve held up reasonably well defensively; by claiming the 2-seed, they also escaped an early round challenge. To get to a potential rematch with Rosemount, though, they’ll need to hold off an Eagan team that beat them in their most recent meeting,
3. Eagan (16-9, #22)
-The Wildcats lost to the Lakevilles in the season’s final week, which keeps them down in the 20s in the rankings. They’ve been playing tough defensively and have Johnny Meiers to lead the way up front; we’ll see if that’s enough in this crowded section.
4. Eastview (13-11-1, #25)
5. St. Thomas Academy (15-8-2, #18)
-You could do a lot worse for a 5-seed than the Cadets, who have won this section the past three seasons, enjoy the services of Jackson Hallum, and have debuted a 2-3 forecheck to shore up the defense. Even in a down season, they still have enough pieces to make things pretty interesting, and have been playing reasonably well down the stretch. But can they pull off three good wins in a row?
6. Bloomington Jefferson
7. Park (Cottage Grove)
8. Apple Valley

4AA
1st Rd 2/19 Aldrich
QF 2/22 Aldrich
SF 2/26 Aldrich
F 2/28 Aldrich

1. Hill-Murray (16-6-3, #7)
-The Pioneers’ final week summed up their regular season, as they followed up a somewhat questionable tie to Chaska with a win over Moorhead. They are the most complete team in 4AA, with some good scoring power and a quality defensive corps and one of the state’s best goalies. If they can score enough, they should be in good shape to hold off their Suburban East rivals. Securing the top seed certainly helps the cause.
2. Stillwater (18-6-1, #19)
The Ponies are the wild card here, as they’ve looked capable of winning the section at times down the stretch but have also been shut down by the likes of St. Thomas Academy. They have single stars up front and on D, and respectable depth beyond that; momentum is on their side to make a section final, and their regular season meeting with Hill suggests it could be a coin flip game.
3. White Bear Lake (16-8-1, #24)
-This Bears team stumbled down the stretch, losing four of its last five and falling from the top seed in the section to third. They have the talent to recover from this fade, but the pressure in on this group to prove they’re still in the conversation for a section title.
4. East Ridge
-With upsets of White Bear and Cretin down the stretch, the Raptors are a sneaky lower seed in a section that so often revolves around the same three teams. We’ll see if they can muster anything this time.
5. Mounds View
6. Woodbury
7. Roseville
8. Irondale
9. Minnehaha Academy

5AA
QF 2/20 Coon Rapids/Champlin
SF 2/22 Champlin
F 2/27 Aldrich

1. Blaine (17-8, #14)
-The Bengals failed to score in their season finale against Andover, which is part of an ongoing trend of limited production against top teams. Like so many Bengal teams over the past decade, they’re led by a dynamic duo of power forwards, Carsen Richels and Cole Hansen, and Maple Grove’s struggles have made them the prohibitive favorites in 5AA. As long as they can finish, they have good odds at defending their section crown.
2. Maple Grove (17-8, #17)
-The Crimson got a much-needed win over Blake in the season’s final week to restore some confidence heading into sections. They’ve suffered from a general power failure after an injury to Kyle Kukkonen, but remain one of the best skating teams in the state, and if they can generate any offense against Blaine, they’ll have a shot to take the section.
3. Centennial
-A running time loss to Chaska in the season’s final week doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, but this team has been plenty competitive with the top two all season long and has the parts to make a run.
4. Totino-Grace
-This team took Blaine to overtime in the regular season, so the upset potential is there if they can get through a competitive fight with Champlin Park.
5. Champlin Park
6. Osseo
7. Spring Lake Park
8. Coon Rapids

6AA
QF 2/20 High Seed Home
SF 2/22 BIG
F 2/26 Mariucci

1. Blake (19-6, #5)
-The Bears lost to Maple Grove in their last game, which kills some momentum heading into sections. They did land the top seed, for what it’s worth in this convoluted section; they’re a good-skating team with no obvious weaknesses, which might be enough to get through, though it’s also not hard to identify an edge that every other contender in this section has over them. Can they make their first AA Tourney?
2. Benilde-St. Margaret’s (16-7-2, #6)
-The Red Knights did not acquit themselves terribly well in a late-season battle with Eden Prairie, which cools a bit of their otherwise strong finish to the season. This team is deep with quality and can skate with nearly anyone, but the production hasn’t always been there this season, and we’ll see how their open style holds up in a crowded section field.
3. Cretin-Derham Hall (19-5-1, #9)
-The Raiders hung on to beat White Bear for a second time and assert their authority atop the Suburban East. Now, however, they begin play with their west metro section opponents, where not even in quarterfinal is a totally safe bet. They have the state’s most exciting player in Matthew Gleason, and enough of a supporting cast to make a run; now, can they play tight enough defense to win some section games?
4. Edina (12-9-4, #12)
-In this year of down talent by their standards, the Hornets have committed to a tough defensive style down the stretch, as evidenced by twin 1-1 ties with Wayzata and Minnetonka in the season’s final week. I could certainly see them putting this together and riding their experience to an upset of Blake and a fighting chance at the stop spot…or an offensive power outage against Wayzata in the first round.
5. Wayzata (14-9-2, #11)
-The Trojans tied Edina in the season’s final week, which is an improvement over the first two losses, but fell to Eden Prairie in their finale. They’ll aim to follow their normal defensive formula, and while stringing together three quality wins in that fashion may be a challenge, they’ve pulled it off before.
6. St. Louis Park
7. Holy Angels
8. Hopkins

7AA
QF 2/18 High Seed Home
SF 2/22 Amsoil
F 2/27 Amsoil

1. Andover (21-3-1, #1)
-A strong win over Blaine was a good sign for their Huskies in their first game against a top 15 team in a month, and they head into sections with the top billing in the state. Their defensive pair is the best there is, and they have great depth and balance up front; can someone step up to carry them at crunch time, and can their goaltending hold up as they try to break their Amsoil hex?
2. Grand Rapids (17-7-1, #10)
-Don’t sleep on the Thunderhawks, who beat Hermantown to conclude their regular season and have been playing absolute lockdown defense over the second half of the season. They’ve allowed just 12 goals in their past 14 games, have a reasonably balanced offense, and a very smart defense in front of one of the state’s better goaltenders in Carter Clafton. They also have the benefit of a forgiving side of the 7AA bracket.
3. Cloquet
-The Jacks have something to prove here, but could have their hands full with Elk River in the first round. How far can Christian Galatz carry them?
4. Forest Lake
-The Rangers have lost five of six heading into sections and will have their work cut out for them to stave off Duluth East for a second time, but a win would be a huge milestone for their program.
5. Duluth East
-Is there anything left in the bag of tricks? East will have to dig deeper than ever before to defend its 7AA throne.
6. Elk River
7. Anoka
8. Duluth Marshall

8AA
QF 2/18 High Seed Home
SF 2/22 High Seed Home
F 2/26 TRF/Bemidji/St. Cloud

1. Moorhead (18-5-1, #3)
-The Spuds lost a competitive final game with Hill-Murray, which is a mild setback, but doesn’t hurt them in the rankings or change the fact that their high-flying top line, Luke Gramer, and Hudson Hodges and goal gives them a core that could be playing on Friday night in St. Paul. They’re the clear favorite in this section, but have had a few adventures with section opponents this season, and will need to stay on track to fulfill their promise.
2. St. Michael-Albertville (12-10-3, #20)
-The Knights couldn’t stick with Eden Prairie as well as they did in their first meeting and wound up with three losses in their last four after a strong run through January. This team’s top line gives them a chance to hang with nearly anyone; they’ll need some support to have a chance to do anything in 8AA. Can a senior class that carried STMA to its first Tourney two years ago bookend their high school run with a second trip?
3. Roseau
-The Rams spent some time in the top 25 this season and have the talent to run with anyone here; they have a win over Moorhead this season and controlled play in their loss to potential semifinal opponent STMA. That said, they’ve also struggled to put away just about everyone in this section, and a first round loss to Brainerd remains a real possibility.
4. St. Cloud
-As with so many 4-seeds this season, St. Cloud is capable of giving the top seed a very good game but also recently lost to its quarterfinal opponent, so nothing will come easy.
5. Rogers
6. Brainerd
7. Buffalo
8. Bemidji

My work here is done. Enjoy the three greatest weeks of hockey!

WestMetro
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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by WestMetro » Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:11 pm

Tremendous work this year

Hate to think of the manhour total
(Just this week alone !)

Hope Lee is paying you well . Lots of money in Proctor I hear .

east hockey
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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by east hockey » Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:45 pm

WestMetro wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:11 pm
Tremendous work this year

Hate to think of the manhour total
(Just this week alone !)

Hope Lee is paying you well . Lots of money in Proctor I hear .
Sorry, all my available funds are completely tied up in cash. Besides, I'm on the far side of Proctor from Hermanclown. Have to go down to Subway and beg for meals. :mrgreen:

Lee
Message Board arsonist since 2005
Egomaniac since 2006

RoseauHockeyFan
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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by RoseauHockeyFan » Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:49 pm

Thanks for another year of excellent coverage of MN high school hockey!

MNHockeyFan
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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by MNHockeyFan » Sun Feb 16, 2020 7:31 pm

RoseauHockeyFan wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:49 pm
Thanks for another year of excellent coverage of MN high school hockey!
Always my favorite thread here, by far. =D>

raidergrad72
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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by raidergrad72 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 9:06 pm

All season long I've read with great interest the musings & observations of our AA guy Karl.
He obviously puts a lot of thought into his postings & I'm getting an education out of this since I don't have the in-depth knowledge of the teams like he does.
Thanks, Karl!

northwoods oldtimer
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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by northwoods oldtimer » Mon Feb 17, 2020 4:02 am

Outstanding work! Has this been the most challenging season to rank?

InThePipes
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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by InThePipes » Mon Feb 17, 2020 6:19 am

Great work Karl!

Slap Shot
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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by Slap Shot » Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:55 am

Very nice work. This topic is typically the first one I search for every Monday. Can't believe we're already at this juncture in the season.

Thanks!

GoldenBear
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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by GoldenBear » Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:29 am

Thanks Karl! GB

northwoods oldtimer
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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by northwoods oldtimer » Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:34 am

What is the hives opinion on how many teams (from Karl's final 25) have legit shot at the 2020 AA State title?

Traxler
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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by Traxler » Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:44 am

northwoods oldtimer wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:34 am
What is the hives opinion on how many teams (from Karl's final 25) have legit shot at the 2020 AA State title?
I wouldn’t be surprised by any of his top 15.

old goalie85
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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by old goalie85 » Mon Feb 17, 2020 11:53 am

Great work Karl!

Stang5280
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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by Stang5280 » Mon Feb 17, 2020 1:24 pm

Karl, thanks again for yet another season of doing yeoman’s work in putting together your rankings. It is always an informative and entertaining read, particularly since I don’t have the chance to follow the AA level as much as I’d like. You are a brilliant writer, and I’m glad you have an outlet for it here and on your blog.

Oh, and I can very much empathize with the relief of having your Sundays free again!

Stang5280
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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by Stang5280 » Mon Feb 17, 2020 1:35 pm

Traxler wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:44 am
northwoods oldtimer wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:34 am
What is the hives opinion on how many teams (from Karl's final 25) have legit shot at the 2020 AA State title?
I wouldn’t be surprised by any of his top 15.
While I wouldn’t be shocked by any of the top 15 making a run, I think it’s safe to eliminate Edina, Wayzata, and Blaine from the discussion due to their lack of offensive punch. I also wouldn’t trust the Lakevilles to win three straight against elite competition.

If I were to really narrow it down, I would bet on the champion coming from one of the top six teams.

MNHockeyFan
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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by MNHockeyFan » Mon Feb 17, 2020 1:40 pm

Stang5280 wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 1:35 pm
If I were to really narrow it down, I would bet on the champion coming from one of the top six teams.
Not exactly going out on a limb there Stang! :wink:

Stang5280
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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by Stang5280 » Mon Feb 17, 2020 1:49 pm

MNHockeyFan wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 1:40 pm
Stang5280 wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 1:35 pm
If I were to really narrow it down, I would bet on the champion coming from one of the top six teams.
Not exactly going out on a limb there Stang! :wink:
I know, but it has been such a strange season that it’s hard to zero in on any strong favorites beyond Andover and EP. Also, either EP or PL will be eliminated in sections, as will either Blake or BSM. The “darkhorse” I have the most belief in would be Rosemount. The talent is there to play with anyone, but consistency is the issue.

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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by Sparlimb » Mon Feb 17, 2020 1:52 pm

Well Andover and Rosemount have the talent to win it all. But I never like teams with little to no history at the tournament to win 3 in a row. Its hard to do for anyone. I'll still take Moorhead over EP in a thriller.

karl(east)
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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by karl(east) » Mon Feb 17, 2020 6:41 pm

northwoods oldtimer wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 4:02 am
Outstanding work! Has this been the most challenging season to rank?
While it's hard to measure, I think it has been. I had to try different methods from what I usually do, which throws off some of the things I've done over the years to make this process more efficient and sustainable. Though I might confess to one or two moments when the chaos of this season gave me a bit of cover to just throw up my arms and go with my gut instead of trying to meticulously justify things based on wins and losses.

As always, thanks to everyone for the kind words. They're sincerely appreciated and help make it all worth it.

I share Stang's opinion on Rosemount's capabilities, so I think I'll draw my line at saying the state champ will be one of the top 11. More precisely, I feel very good that the top two are the top two teams in the state, and that Moorhead belongs at #3, and that Hill and Rosemount have enough talent to pull it off if enough goes right. 6AA is a crapshoot but I could see any one of the top three catching fire, and no one will be more battle tested once they get to State than the winner of that mess. Lakeville South might yet be a year away, but they do have a relatively easy road to State and by virtue of being the 1AA entrant probably won't face a ton of pressure, so you never know. I'm also not totally sold on Prior Lake belonging as high as they are, but their record down the stretch is what it is, and if they beat EP (or if Tonka does the dirty work for them), it's certainly possible. Rapids might also be in the year away category, but they're on a roll right now.

Looking forward to everyone's observations over the next few weeks, and seeing many of you at Amsoil or the X or even in Forest Lake tomorrow night!

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Re: AA Rankings for 2/16/20 and Section Preview

Post by InThePipes » Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:46 pm

Stang5280 wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 1:35 pm
Traxler wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:44 am
northwoods oldtimer wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:34 am
What is the hives opinion on how many teams (from Karl's final 25) have legit shot at the 2020 AA State title?
I wouldn’t be surprised by any of his top 15.
While I wouldn’t be shocked by any of the top 15 making a run, I think it’s safe to eliminate Edina, Wayzata, and Blaine from the discussion due to their lack of offensive punch. I also wouldn’t trust the Lakevilles to win three straight against elite competition.

If I were to really narrow it down, I would bet on the champion coming from one of the top six teams.
Mostly agree, but Blaine is one of the top offensive teams in the state (albeit with some inconsistency), so associating them with Edina and Wayzata from an offensive perspective is probably not quite fair.

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