Sunday, December 31, 2017

Minn Puck Class AA Power Rankings - 12/31/17

After the Holiday break, the Minn Puck Class AA power rankings return to close out 2017. The three major Holiday tournaments/showcases shook up the top ten this week with the Schwan's Cup and Hockey For Life Classic featuring the majority of the top teams in the state. The Hilltopper Holiday Classic featured teams such as Wayzata, Cloquet, and Duluth Marshall on the bubble trying to secure a spot on the list for a least a week. Without further adieu, here is this week's rankings:

1. Minnetonka

(10-0-2)

Last week:
vs. Edina, W 5-2
vs. Hill-Murray, W 4-2
vs. St. Thomas Academy, T 3-3

In a battle of #1 vs. #2, the Skippers earned a decisive victory over the Edina Hornets at the Schwan's Cup to become the top dog this week. The competition did not stop there as the Skippers were tested against a Hill-Murray team trying to make some noise, and settled with a tie against a St. Thomas team Minnetonka took to overtime and beat over Thanksgiving. The MLK line is clicking right now, but as the results show over the three-day tournament, the difference between the top two teams in the state is razor thin. This week, Minnetonka battles Orono, one of the better teams in Class A, on Tuesday and are at home for a big game against a Duluth East team looking for a signature win this season.

2. St. Thomas Academy

(8-1-1)

Last week:
vs. Burnsville, W 3-0
vs. Eden Prairie, W 5-4
vs. Minnetonka, T 3-3

St. Thomas Academy also faired well at the Schwan's Cup, without a loss in the three games, but both Eden Prairie and Minnetonka took the Cadets to overtime. This was Minnetonka's second overtime game with St. Thomas with the Skippers winning the first meeting, so the results show the two teams are pretty comparable. Payton Matsui had four goals at the tournament. The Cadets get North St. Paul on Tuesday, and Class A's top team right now in Mahtomedi.

3. Edina

(10-1-0)

Last week:
vs. Minnetonka, L 5-2
vs. Centennial, W 5-2
vs. St. Michael-Albertville, W 5-1

Edina slides down to number three this week after the unbeaten streak of eight games comes to an end at the hands of Minnetonka. Edina did not drown in their sorrows as they came back the next two nights, cruising to wins against Centennial and St. Michael-Albertville. The Hornets get a trio of games this week in Burnsville, White Bear Lake, and Holy Angels. The game against White Bear Lake is the next best opponent Edina will play after Minnetonka at this point in the season.

4. Duluth East

(6-0-3)

Last week:
vs. Blaine, T 2-2

Duluth East is at number four this week. Since beating Centennial, two weeks ago, the Greyhounds have struggled with the competition in games that have ended in narrow victories or ties. Duluth East could build some momentum at the end of the week with back-to-back games against a surprising Stillwater team, and concluding the week against top team Minnetonka.

5. White Bear Lake

(8-0-2)

Last week:
vs. Bloomington Jefferson, W 5-0

Coming in at number five is White Bear Lake. White Bear Lake has pulled off pretty convincing victories since tying Cretin Derham-Hall at the beginning of December. The Bears are behind Duluth East because they have yet to pull off a victory against a top ten team, but were very competitive against top teams with draws against aforementioned Cretin and Duluth East.  Edina is the next opponent for White Bear on Thursday, and should be able to pull off a victory against Rochester Century at the end of the week.

6. Holy Family

(10-2-1)

Last week:
vs. Elk River, W 4-2
vs. Benilde-St. Margaret's, W 3-2
vs. Moorhead, W 3-2

Holy Family has rattled off seven straight wins since losing to St. Thomas Academy on December 9, including a clean sweep of the Hockey for Life Classic showcase. The Fire are the one team trending upwards in the power rankings. Quality wins over Elk River and Moorhead make Holy Family worthy of being listed in this portion of the rankings. Holy Family takes on Greenway, a solid Class A team, and then finishes the week against Grand Rapids.

7. Cretin Derham-Hall

(8-2-1)

Last week:
vs. St. Louis Park, W 4-3
vs. Breck, W 5-1
vs. Minneapolis, W 9-2

Cretin Derham-Hall took home the Silver Division championship blowing past Minneapolis, but struggled against St. Louis Park along the way. The Raiders have won four straight games, and played competitively against an injury-plagued Edina team before Christmas. The tie to White Bear Lake at the beginning of December gives them consideration as being a top ten team, but the Wayzata loss pushes them back towards the bottom of the rankings. Cretin has East Ridge and Roseville this week, which should be additional wins.

8. Centennial

(6-2-2)

Last week:
vs. Hill-Murray, T 4-4
vs. Edina, L 5-2
vs. Burnsville, W 6-3

This is the part of the power rankings that starts to get a little bit messy as there is a group of teams all looking to be part of the next few spots. Centennial had a rather uninspired Schwan's Cup as they managed a tie against Hill-Murray, a young team trying to establish itself, and allowed four goals to Edina during the 2nd period of the second night of the tournament. Centennial needs to find some additional offense outside of Lucas McGregor in order to make a push as being one of the elite teams in the state. Their losses have been to teams above them, so that has helped their cause for remaining in the top ten. This week, Centennial plays Brainerd, a sneaky team that could cause some issues for Centennial, and then have Maple Grove, and Andover.

9. Moorhead

(9-4)

Last week:
vs. Chaska, W 3-1
vs. Prior Lake, W 5-1
vs. Holy Family, L 3-2

Moorhead had a nice showing at the Hockey for Life Classic, but could not finish the deal against Holy Family in the 3rd period to claim the showcase championship. The lack of depth has shown for this team. If Moorhead's top line can not produce, then the team will struggle. The loss to Cloquet raises some questions, but the other three losses have been to teams above them. Moorhead faces St. Michael-Albertville and Wayzata - two games on paper Moorhead should win, but the results will dictate whether they belong in the rankings.

10. Eden Prairie

(5-4-1)

Last week:
vs. St. Michael-Albertville, W 5-1
vs. St. Thomas Academy, L 5-4
vs. Hill-Murray, T 4-4

Eden Prairie played well in the Schwan's Cup, winning over St. Michael-Albertville quite handily, and facing a tough opponent in St. Thomas Academy and putting in a strong showing, losing in overtime. The tie to Hill-Murray was puzzling, but on the third day of consecutive games anything can happen with another top 20 team as fatigue starts to set in. Like Centennial, Eden Prairie lacks depth offensively with one player on a different level than the rest. Jack Jensen has as many points as the next two highest scorers combined. The Eagles will need to find more options if opponents contain Jensen. Eden Prairie is on the road this week against Lakeville South and Prior Lake.

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