Sunday, January 7, 2018

Minn Puck Class AA Power Rankings - 1/7/18

The first Minn Puck Class AA power rankings of 2018 bring changes among the top ten this week. Miinnetonka goes down at the hand of Duluth East, leaving the Greyhounds as the last undefeated team remaining. The results from the last week show there are four clear front runners for the state title this year - Duluth East, Edina, Minnetonka, and St. Thomas Academy.

1. Duluth East

(8-0-3)

Last week: Ranked #4
vs. Stillwater, W 4-1
vs. Minnetonka, W 4-2

Despite some vulnerabilities, the Greyhounds are the team still standing without any losses this season, which makes them number one this week. In the battle of the unbeatens on Saturday, Duluth East did not let an early Minnetonka lead get to them as they came back to tie the game during the period, and eventually showed they were the better team in periods two and three. The Hounds play three games this week with two across the Northland against Duluth Denfield and Grand Rapids, and then make the I-35 road trip to face Eden Prairie to close out the week. Duluth East should be able to pull off wins in all three games. At one time, it appeared Eden Prairie might provide a challenge, but the Eagles have gone into a tailspin as they lost a pair of games to Lakeville South and Prior Lake last week. There is a possibility of the weekend matchup being of those trap games, where Eden Prairie is desperate to turn around their season, and Duluth East is caught off-guard.

2. Minnetonka

(11-1-2)

Last week: Ranked #1
vs. Orono, W 5-2
vs. Duluth East, L 4-2

Minnetonka loss to Duluth East drops them a spot this week. Being that Minnetonka has wins over both St. Thomas Academy and Edina, the floor is number two, unless the Skippers drop a game to a lessor opponent. Minnetonka is without Josh Luedtke for an extended period due to injury, who was the team's leading scorer at the time, but the Skippers have a solid supporting cast around them. Was Luedtke's absence a difference maker against Duluth East? It played a role. Minnetonka did beat an Edina team not completely healthy, which makes depth important now as we enter the second half of the schedule. The schedule week includes Blaine and Hermantown. These are two teams that are capable of providing competition, but the Skippers will add two more victories.

3. St. Thomas Academy

(9-1-1)

Last week: Ranked #2
vs. Mahtomedi, W 3-1

Just one game this week for as St. Thomas took care of business against a strong Class A opponent in Mahtomedi. St. Thomas is number three this week through no fault of their own as Duluth East's victory over Minnetonka shot the Greyhounds from #4 to #1. The only chink in the armor might be needing overtime to beat Eden Prairie at the Schwan's Cup. The Cadets get the Eagles again on Tuesday and take on Hastings Thursday. This is another two wins St. Thomas should be able to pick up. Not expecting the game against Eden Prairie to be as close this time around, but the Eagles should not be overlooked.

4. Edina

(13-1)

Last week: Ranked #3
vs. Burnsville, W 6-1
vs. White Bear Lake, W 4-3
vs. Holy Angels, W 9-0

Edina moves down one spot as well with re-shuffling among the top four teams in the state. Demetrios Komountzis scored four goals and added an assist in Edina's win over Burnsville. The Hornets were tested against a White Bear Lake team looking for a signature win this season. One game this week for the Hornets as they take on a Blaine team that likes to make some noise against better teams in the state.

5. Holy Family

(12-2-1)

Last week: Ranked #6
vs. Greenway, W 7-1
vs. Grand Rapids, W 5-1

Holy Family moves up one position this week to number five as they took care of business against Greenway and Grand Rapids to extend the win streak to nine. Combined with White Bear Lake's bad loss to Rochester Century, the Fire are the clear bubble team to the "big four". The bad loss to Edina at the beginning of the season keeps them out of top four consideration for now. If Holy Family were in a different section from the top four teams, they would have a clear path to the state tournament. Just one game for Holy Family this week as they take on a Lakeville South team that knocked off Eden Prairie last week.

6. Cretin-Derham Hall

(10-2-1)

Last week: Ranked #8
vs. East Ridge, W 3-0
vs. Roseville, W 6-1

This part of the rankings starts to get noisy as a bunch of teams with little difference between them are competing for the last five spots. Cretin rolled past East Ridge and Roseville last week and have won their last six games since the Edina loss. They lack a statement win from moving up any further. Cretin stays in the East Metro this week with games against Stillwater and Park of Cottage Grove.

7. Duluth Marshall

(10-3-1)

Last week: Not ranked
vs. Superior (WI), W 6-2
vs. Maple Grove, W 4-1

Duluth Marshall has been a team on the watch list since being competitive against Minnetonka and Duluth East, despite losing both contests. They wins over Brainerd before the New Year and Maple Grove win prove that Marshall is top ten worthy, at least for this week. Cloquet will yield a similar competitiveness as Brainerd and Maple Grove, so a win here will keep them in this list. Champlin Park awaits the Hilltoppers on Saturday.

8. White Bear Lake

(8-2-2)

Last week: Ranked #5
vs. Edina L 4-3
vs. Rochester Century, L 3-1

White Bear Lake drops three spots as the head scratcher team of the week. They battled Edina to overtime before losing, then suffer a very bad defeat at the hands of Rochester Century, a road team that scored three goals on eight shots. Where the Bears emotionally drained after the big game against the Hornets? Possibly. However, a top team needs to bring it every night, and the reason why they were penalized this week in the rankings. The Bears get the same opponents as Cretin this week in Stillwater and Cretin-Derham Hall, and then finish the week against Woodbury.

9. Elk River

(10-4)

Last week: Not ranked
vs. Andover, W 5-1
vs. Blaine, W 3-0

This part of the rankings has proven to spell doom during the upcoming week for teams in the next two positions. Elk River gets the nod after winning it's last four games rather easily, including North Metro foes Andover and Blaine. While they have not won against a top ten opponent, the Elks have shown they can hang with the likes of Edina and Holy Family, but do not have any bad losses either. Champlin Park and re-match against Centennial await Elk River this week. The game against Centennial will be a test to see whether they belong as a top ten staple.

10. Moorhead

(10-5)

Last week: Ranked #9
vs. St. Michael-Albertville, W 5-0
vs. Wayzata, L 4-3

Moorhead rounds out the list this week as they have been competitive in their last five games, knocking off Chaska and Prior Lake, two teams looking to make a push in Section 2AA, and a big win over St. Michael-Albertville. The losses to Holy Family and Wayzata were not bad by any means, but it has shown the Spuds inability to close out games they have the early advantage in, which is why they are parked at the bottom for now. Centennial's bad loss to Andover gave the Spuds the edge here. Brainerd will provide a good challenge to Moorhead this week, before closing out against Breck on Saturday.