Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Week in Review

All teams across the state have now at least one game under the belt as we turn the calendar into December and really start to get into the thick of the season. Here's is how I think the next State of Hockey/Let's Play Hockey Class AA poll will shape out based on last week's games.  Eden Prairie and Hill-Murray both exit the top ten this week after disappointing loses.

1. Edina

Last week:
Tue., Nov 28
vs. St. Louis Park, W 8-3
Sat., Dec 2 vs.

Roseau, W 8-0

This one is a no-brainer.  Edina has begun the season winning by at least four goals in four games. Demetrios Koumontzis leads the team with ten points, followed by Sammy Walker with nine. Edina is idle until the Holiday Classic where they will contend against teams looking to ascend the ranks in Elk River and Eden Prairie. This team is playing like the 1980 Soviets right now. Edina has no easy regular season schedule, and if they do manage to run the table, it will certainly be the most memorable high school hockey seasons in history. That includes the great Bloomington Jefferson teams on the 1990s and the recent undefeated season completed by Lakeville North.

2. Minnetonka

Last week:
Sat., Dec 2 vs.

Prior Lake, W 4-1

Ranking the second team took a bit more thought than the obvious nod to Edina for the top spot. Minnetonka moves up with a solid win over Prior Lake and Duluth East's struggle to put White Bear Lake. Bobby Brink leads the team with five points over three games.  Should Minnetonka retain the number two position, there will be a couple great Lake Conference battles with Edina over the next few months to determine the top team in Class AA. The first matchup will take place with the Schwan's Cup at Christmas.

3. Duluth East

Last week:
Fri, Dec 1 vs. White Bear Lake, T 3-3
Sat., Dec 2 vs. Wayzata, W 4-2

Duluth East drops a spot due to the tie with White Bear Lake that felt more like a loss after blowing a three goal lead after the first period. They rebounded the next day and took care of business against Wayzata.  Looking ahead, Duluth East plays top teams in Cloquet and Centennial before Christmas, which will be a good indicator on where this team stands heading into the new year.

4. St. Thomas Academy

Last week:
Wed, Nov 29 vs. Eastview, W 5-1
Sat., Dec 2 vs. Farmington, W 4-2

St. Thomas continues to win after it's signature win over Moorhead at The Opener over Thanksgiving. The Cadets have a big game coming up on Saturday against the other top private school in Class AA, Holy Family. St. Thomas is also a participant in the Schwan's Gold Cup, where it could make a statement of being a legitimate top team.

5. Moorhead

Last week:
Tue, Nov 28 vs. Brainerd, W 6-1
Sat., Dec 2 vs. Buffalo, W 3-1

After losing to St. Thomas Academy, Moorhead came back with an easy win over Brainerd and grinded out a win against Buffalo.  Moorhead has perhaps the best player in the state right now in Carter Randklev, who has ten points.  Moorhead faces off against East Grand Forks, Minnetonka, and Cloquet all before Christmas.

6. Centennial

Last week:
Fri, Dec 1 vs. Roseau, W 6-2
Sat., Dec 2 vs. Armstrong/Cooper, W 6-2

Centennial might be the least sexiest team in the top ten, but has two convincing wins to start the season. The first big challenge will come against Elk River on Saturday.

7. White Bear Lake

Last week:

Tue, Nov 28 vs. Cloquet, W 4-1
Fri, Dec 1 vs. Duluth East, T 3-3

White Bear Lake's stock may have risen the most since the start of the season among top teams with a nice victory over Cloquet, and what is viewed as a moral victory over Duluth East after coming back from a 3-0 in the first period to outplay the Greyhounds the rest of the game to force a tie. The Bears do not have a real meaty remaining schedule in 2017, but they do face Cretin-Derham Hall on Saturday and battle Hill-Murray before Christmas.

8. Holy Family

Last week:

Tue, Nov 28 vs. Litchfield, W 9-0
Sat., Dec 2 vs. Orono, T 3-3

Since splitting at the Turkey Trot, Holy Family beat up on Litchfield pretty badly, but then settled for a tie against Orono, a top team in Class A. Holy Family takes on St. Thomas Academy, which begins a tough schedule through the end of the calendar year.

9. Elk River

Last week:

Tue, Nov 30 vs. Coon Rapids, W 8-0
Sat., Dec 2 vs. Spring Lake Park, W 8-1

Elk River joins the top ten after a couple convincing wins to start the season. Connor Bizal and Jack Perbix lead the team in scoring. The Elks schedule ramps up in difficulty as they take on Centennial on Saturday. A victory would have them encroaching on the top five going into the Edina Holiday Classic. 

10. Maple Grove

Last week:

Tue, Nov 30 vs. Totino-Grace, W 6-1
Sat., Dec 2 vs. Champlin Park, W 3-2

Maple Grove also is new to this list as they continue to win following a tie with Wayzata and giving Edina their most competitive game at the Turkey Trot. Scoring has come from the trio of Tyler Kostelecky, Trevor Kukkonen, and Matt Jaglo. The Crimson will be tested next week with games that include Blaine, Elk River, Holy Family, and Centennial.

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