by Michael Platzer
Southwest Big 6: Edina, Minnetonka, Holy Family Catholic, Chaska, Eden Prairie, and Wayzata, sections 2AA and 6AA.
Section tournaments recently concluded, the best of the Southwest Big 6 are traveling to the 2018 MSHSL Hockey Tournament at Xcel Energy Center, March 7, 8, 9, and 10.
Edina and Minnetonka are head-and-shoulder-pads above the rest, both featuring formidable defense, elite team speed, and snipers galore--goaltenders beware!
The very slight edge goes to the Hornets for brick-wall defense; lightning-fast transitions; and surgically-precise up-ice rushes geared to feeding the trailer. The Skippers surpass all in overall team speed and creative offensive chaos.
Holy Family Catholic is the odd-man out of The Tourney, losing a double-overtime heart-breaker to Tonka's Skippers. A spectacular performance by the goalkeep wasn't enough, as the Fire's strength, offensive puck control, was disrupted by the speedy Skippers.
Chaska, Eden Prairie, and Wayzata were the best of the rest, and could defeat each other or any superior opponent on any given night at the rink. Young Chaska is comparable to Minnetonka of yesteryear, but suffered significant injuries to key players, including goaltender. Eden Prairie features elite talent, but sometimes sloppy puck-work. And Wayzata remains the perennial blue-collar tough-guy team, but lacks scoring proficiency. Which all added up to ultra-competitive sections this year, which will continue into the foreseeable future, barring the rumored exodus of key players.
Addendums from the Box:
Also-Rans: Holy Family Catholic and Andover are arguably the two best squads not in this year's post-season finale at the X.
Tourney-Watch: Can St. Thomas Academy's physical defense disrupt the Hornets' or Skippers' always impressive offensive output?
Crystal Puck: Barring departures, Chaska and talented, disciplined Eastview will be top 20 staples in 2018-19.
Apologies to 2AA and 6AA Benilde-St. Margaret's, Cretin-Derham Hall, and Prior Lake as I did not attend any of their February games.