About the Wildcats: No metro-area team faced higher expectations than Eagan, which returned much of its roster from last year's third-place showing at state and earned the No. 1 preseason ranking from the Star Tribune. Responding in style, the Wildcats rung up 177 goals and allowed only 46 -- both program records. Mr. Hockey finalists Will Merchant and Michael Zajac receive well-earned praise, but senior forward Nick Kuchera, an all-tournament team selection last year, helped turn Eagan's engine. He accepted a switch to the second line and made the Wildcats a deeper team. He tallied 17 goals and 37 assists. On defense, the Wildcats boast a pair of future Division I players in Eli May (Minnesota State Mankato) and Sam Wolfe (Maine).
About the Spuds: Moorhead's 4-0 loss to Eagan in last season's quarterfinals was followed by a consolation loss and the first 0-2 tournament showing in coach Dave Morinville's seven trips. The firepower to compete is there. Junior Tony Uglem has a team-leading 23 goals and 36 points. Three other players have 30 points: senior Bryant Christian (8-22) and juniors Nicholas Uglem (11-19) and Thomas Carey (8-22). The Spuds' signature player is senior goaltender Michael Bitzer. One of two finalists for the Frank Brimsek Award, Bitzer boasts a .929 save percentage. He allowed one goal in three section playoff games. Moorhead has experienced a mixed bag against state tournament teams, splitting two games with Benilde-St. Margaret's and losing to Duluth East and Hill-Murray.
Did you know? Moorhead is 4-0 in overtime this season.
DAVID LA VAQUE
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