When it comes to showcasing top boys’ hockey teams from both Class 2A and 1A, the Schwan Cup runneth over.
Headlining the Gold Division are Class 2A powers No. 1 Duluth East, No. 2 Minnetonka, No. 5 Burnsville, No. 9 Edina, No. 10 Blaine and No. 12 Hill-Murray. Defending Class 1A state champion St. Thomas Academy, ranked No. 1 once again, is also in the mix.
All four quarterfinals will be played Dec. 26 at Ridder Arena on the University of Minnesota campus. Winner’s bracket semifinals on Dec. 27 and the championship on Dec. 28 take place at Xcel Energy Center.
Consider this field a state tournament preview. Six of the eight teams have played in either class of the state tournament at least once in the past two seasons. Edina won the 2A title in 2010 and St. Thomas Academy skated away with the 1A crown last season.
Four players who have made Division I commitments will grace the ice: future Gophers Michael Brodzinski (Blaine), Vinni Lettieri (Minnetonka) and Lou Nanne (Edina), and Maine-bound St. Thomas Academy defenseman Eric Schurhamer.
Other top high school players on display: Jake Randolph and Dom Toninato (Duluth East), Cory Chapman (Burnsville) and Jake Guentzel, Zach LaValle and Blake Heinrich (Hill-Murray).
If rankings hold, a Duluth East/St. Thomas Academy showdown of the No. 1 teams in both classes awaits in the semifinals on the bracket’s top half. On the bottom half, a semifinal meeting of Lake Conference rivals Minnetonka and Edina would pit cousins Lettieri and Nanne against one another.
Last season, Hill-Murray knocked off both the Skippers and the Hornets en route to winning the Gold Division crown.
David La Vaque