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Class AA rankings: Jefferson grabs top spot

By Tim Kolehmainen, 01/26/09, 1:21PM CST


Jefferson romps, while Edina stumbles to Hopkins in overtime

by Tim Kolehmainen, Editor of The BREAKDOWN

Editor's note:  The MnHockeyHub works in conjunction with MnSportsPreview.com and The Breakdown.  Each week, Breakdown editor Tim Kolehmainen offers up their top 15 teams.  These are not to be confused with the MnHockeyHub rankings that are observed as the official MyFoxHockey.com rankings.  To view the MnHockeyHub/MyFoxHockey.com rankings, click the rankings button on the top navigation bar.  Compare/contrast/enjoy.

The Breakdown takes its weekly look at the top 15 teams in Class AA...

1. Bloomington Jefferson (16-0-0)
After clamoring for the top spot in the Class AA poll, the Jaguars have finally ascended to it after a dominating week of victories over winless Rosemount (8-1) and Chaska (10-3). Of course, it didn’t hurt that Edina was losing to Hopkins at the same time.  Jefferson just might finish the regular season unbeaten, as their toughest game left is at Eden Prairie on Feb. 10.  The Jaguars receive scoring from up and down their lineup, led by the acronym boys: A.J. Siiro (17-15-32) and T.J. Gallus (12-17-29).  Goalie Casey O’Connor (14-0-0, 1.16 GAA, .934 save %) helps back up a very strong defensive unit.

This week: Tuesday vs. Bloomington Kennedy (7:30 p.m.), Saturday at Lakeville South (3 p.m.).

2. Edina (15-2-0)
The Hornets’ top line of Marshall Everson (24-19-43), Anders Lee (15-28-43) and Connor Gaarder (15-21-36) finally ran into someone who could slow them down: Hopkins goalie Alex Fons, who has had a knack for doing it to many teams over the past two years.  Fons stopped 56 of 59 shots as Woodbury upset the Hornets 4-3 in overtime Saturday to knock them from the top of the Class AA rankings. Edina’s top line had two of the three goals, but couldn’t take advantage of numerous other chances.  The Hornets have a big statement game coming up Tuesday against No. 4 Centennial, but until Jefferson loses, it will be nearly impossible to ascend back to the top ranking.

This week: Tuesday vs. Centennial (7:15 p.m.), Saturday vs. Armstrong (7 p.m.).

3. Blaine (14-1-1)
The Bengals kept rolling last week with a 5-2 win over Andover and a 7-2 victory over Coon Rapids.  Blaine is already most certainly circling a Valentine’s Day rematch with No. 4 Centennial, whom they tied 4-all two weeks ago and are competing for both a Section 6AA top seed and Northwest Suburban Conference title.  A win in that game would likely give the Bengals both goals.  Sophomore Nick Bjugstad (17-16-33) continues to pace the Bengals in scoring, while defensemen Ryan Brockway, Tony Larson, Matt Blomquist, Taylor Richart and Jay Wagamon have been tough in front of junior goalie Danny Harper (12-1-1, 2.05 GAA, .903 save %).

This week: Thursday at Osseo (7:30 p.m.), Saturday at Anoka (7:30 p.m.).

4. Centennial (12-1-2)
Sophomore goalie Brett Larsen (12-1-2, 1.69 GAA, .926 save %) has really been playing tough lately, including allowing just one goal in his last two starts, making 47 of 48 possible saves.  He’s a big reason the Cougars have surged into the top-four of the rankings and stayed there.  Last week, Centennial routed Champlin Park (9-0) and Osseo (9-1) in front of Larsen. Centennial is still reliant on the top line of Tyler Pitlick (19-15-34), Jordan Lovick (9-22-31) and Willie Hess (15-10-24), although the second unit of James Hughes (12-9-21), David Schreiner (10-4-14) and Riley Colvard (6-7-13) has come on strong.  Some big road tests are on the docket this week.

This week: Tuesday at Edina (7:15 p.m.), Thursday at Coon Rapids (7:30 p.m.), Saturday at Moorhead (5:30 p.m.).

5. Eden Prairie (13-3-0)
The Eagles and Bloomington Jefferson are head and shoulders above the rest of the Lake Conference and are headed for a big collision in their rematch on Feb. 10.  Jefferson beat the Eagles last time (2-1 on Jan. 3), but Eden Prairie gets home ice in the second tilt.  Last week, the Eagles blasted Bloomington’s other public school, Kennedy (14-1) and shut out Eagan and top goalie Trent Caspar (2-0).  Defenseman Nick Leddy (6-16-22) might be the best in the state and leads Eden Prairie in scoring. The Eagles are well-balanced, though, with multiple lines that can score at any time.  Eleven players have double-digit point totals.

This week: Tuesday vs. Eastview (7:30 p.m.), Saturday at Chaska (7:30 p.m.).

6. Duluth East (12-3-1)
A home loss to Rochester Century last week (3-2) was a bad loss, but not enough to knock the Greyhounds further down, as they were without several key players in the game.  Apparently leading scorer Max Tardy (18-13-31) was angry about it, as he responded with four goals in a 7-3 victory over Mayo the next afternoon.  East isn’t a powerhouse offensive team, as they’ve scored just over four goals a game, but not many are stingier on defense. Matt Cooper (12-2-1, 1.40 GAA, .920 save %) already has six shutouts on the season.

This week: Wednesday vs. Grand Rapids (8 p.m.), Saturday at Andover (7:30 p.m.).

7. Minnetonka (13-5-0)
The Skippers 7-0 blanking of Hopkins last Thursday looks even more impressive after the Royals upset Edina on Saturday.  Not that Minnetonka hasn’t been plenty impressive on its own.  They’ve won five straight games, including victories over Holy Angels, Stillwater, Moorhead and Hopkins.  Against the Royals, leading scorer Max Gardiner (14-19-33) and Thomas Schutt (7-10-17) each scored two goals (Gardiner also added two assists) and goalie Jim Kruger (7-5-0, 2.06 GAA, .896 save %) stopped all 23 shots for the shutout.  Sam Coatta (14-10-24) and defenseman Andrew Prochno (7-17-24) are also tallying well over a point a game.

This week: Thursday vs. Wayzata (7 p.m.).

8. Holy Angels (11-3-1)
Well, the Stars certainly do test themselves against non-MSHSL programs plenty, don’t they?  After three games against out-of-state foes, Holy Angels takes on Shattuck this weekend in the final one of their schedule.  Good thing they take a break from their Missota foes.  Last week, the Stars destroyed Shakopee (13-1) and Farmington (11-0) as Danny Mattson (17-30-47) tallied two goals and two assists in each game. Linemates John  Haeg (17-19-36) and Connor Reilly (16-22-38) also combined for six goals and eight assists in the two blowouts.  The trio has 50 of the Stars’ 91 goals on the season.

This week: Monday at Elk River (7 p.m.), Friday vs. Prior Lake (7:30 p.m.), Saturday vs. Shattuck-St. Mary’s (2:30 p.m.).

9. Benilde-St. Margaret’s (13-3-0)
Benilde continues to creep up the rankings, and why not?  Last week, they handled Hill-Murray in overtime (3-2) and blanked Totino-Grace (5-0).  The victory over the Pioneers was especially gratifying after they fell behind 2-0 after two periods.  But Christian Horn (10-10-20) and Pat Steinhauser (6-12-18) scored to tie in the third and then Horn blasted in the game-winner with just over a minute left in overtime from Steinhauser to win it.  The pair of freshmen have been a potent force for Ken Pauly’s club this winter. Brett Patterson (12-15-27), Bryan Glynn (9-12-21), Patrick Duda (8-13-21), Will Nelson (8-7-15) and Pat Cron (9-3-12) can also rip it.

This week: Tuesday at Irondale (7:30 p.m.), Thursday vs. Shattuck-St. Mary’s (7:30 p.m.).

10. Woodbury (14-2-2)
Forest Lake’s Paul Moberg seems to have Woodbury’s number.  For the second time in eight days, Moberg shut down the Royals’ offense to give Forest Lake bragging rights after their more accomplished neighbors to the south (a 2-2 tie on Jan. 17 and a 4-3 Rangers’ win last Saturday in which the combined shots were 88-44 in favor of the Royals).  Otherwise, Woodbury has been rolling.  Mike Ness (10-1-1, 1.59 GAA, .921 save %) and Patrick Moore (4-1-1, 2.30 GAA, .898 save %) have combined to allow just 34 goals in 18 games, while the Woodbury offense has tallied 77. The top line of Max Gaede (12-23-35), Tony Pittman (12-20-32) and Connor Delaney (10-11-21) has nearly half that total.

This week: Thursday vs. Stillwater (7:30 p.m.).

11. Wayzata (11-5-1)
After winning 10 games in a row, the Trojans finally cooled off last week, dropping both of their games (5-4 in overtime to Burnsville and 5-0 to Edina).  Now they need to rally quickly to avoid extending their losing streak with two very tough Section 6AA games on tap this week.  With respect to Section 2AA, it can be argued that 6AA is as tough as any in the state.  The Trojans will need to stiffen up its defense again in front of senior Ty Simcoe (9-4-0, 2.07 GAA, .904 save %) to stop the skid from becoming a slide.

This week: Thursday at Minnetonka (7 p.m.), Saturday vs. Hopkins (2:30 p.m.).

12. Maple Grove (13-2-2)
The Crimson and outstanding netminder Sean Elmer (12-2-1, 1.36 GAA, .932 save %) solidified their hold on the top-15 rankings with a pair of shutouts last week, routing Coon Rapids (10-0) and Anoka (6-0). In two games (slightly less as he didn’t play the final 12 minutes against Anoka), Elmer only saw 21 shots, but he stopped all of them.  Josh Gross (17-14-31), Matt Dee (12-18-30), Alec Horton (14-9-23) and Tommy Malone (11-12-23) do most of the scoring for the Crimson, as they’ve accounted for 54 of the team’s 82 goals.

This week: Thursday at Champlin Park (7:30 p.m.), Saturday vs. Elk River (7:30 p.m.).

13. Hopkins (11-5-1)
After including the Royals in the top-15 rankings for the first time last week, Hopkins made me look good by shocking then top-ranked Edina in overtime (4-3) Saturday night.  The Royals burst out to a 3-1 lead on the Hornets midway through the second, but then let it slip away.  Ryan Colvin brought the home crowd to its feet at the 4:20 mark of overtime, however, with the game-winner.  As he can do, goaltender Alex Fons (10-3-1, 2.58 GAA, .908 save %) came up big, stopping 56 Hornets’ shots.  Of course, the big win came on the heels of a very disappointing 7-0 shellacking at Minnetonka two nights earlier.

This week: Thursday at Armstrong (7 p.m.), Saturday at Wayzata (2:30 p.m.).

14. Hill-Murray (10-5-1)
The Pioneers dropped a heart-breaking 3-2 overtime decision at Benilde-St. Margaret’s on Tuesday, a game that would have gone a long way toward building confidence in the remade squad. The hangover wasn’t too great, though, as they came back to rip Sibley 10-2 on Saturday.  Speedy Tyler Zepeda (11-16-27) continues to pace the offense, while the Hill-Murray defense has been strong in front of sophomore Tim Shaughnessy (7-5-1, 2.15 GAA, .901 save %).

This week: Thursday vs. South St. Paul (8 p.m.), Saturday vs. Simley (8 p.m.).

15. White Bear Lake (9-8-1)
I nearly gave this spot back to Moorhead after its impressive win against Warroad Saturday (especially since the Spuds had already beaten White Bear Lake back in December). But the Bears couldn’t drop after winning their only game of the week (4-1 over Forest Lake on Thursday).  Sophomore Max Birkinbine (13-5-18) tallied twice in the victory and continues to lead the Bears in goals.  Chad Lowell (7-15-22) and Mike Slator (7-14-21) are the top two scorers on offense, while Brent Putney (5-7-12) adds good scoring from the blue line.  White Bear Lake’s schedule doesn’t get extremely tough until the final week, while Moorhead continues to pile up tough foes, meaning this spot could easily be up for grabs again next week with a Spuds’ win.

This week: Thursday at Park (7:30 p.m.), Saturday vs. Mounds View (3 p.m.).