Most predictions for the Class 1A state tournament start and end with St. Thomas Academy. Sure, The Cadets won two straight championships, but those expecting a cakewalk must be forgetting about Breck -- and that's exactly the way coach Les Larson wants it.
"We hope that they do," he said. "We hope that St. Thomas forgets about us, too."
The Mustangs (24-3-1) went toe-to-toe the Cadets in a thrilling 1-0 loss in last year's state tournament semifinals and lost twice by just one goal to St. Thomas Academy this season. If that's not reason enough for the Cadets to be wary of a potential matchup with Breck, maybe the fact that they haven't lost since January and averaged 7.67 goals per game in sections will turn some heads. This is the fifth consecutive state appearance for the Mustangs, a squad that knows how to win come tourney time. If Breck can make it to the finals, sending the Cadets to Class 2A on a loss would be the icing on the cake to a dominant season.
"We would love to be able to face [St. Thomas Academy] again this year," Larson said. "Especially in the championship game."
-- Walker Orenstein
FORWARDS: In three section playoff games, the Mustangs' top line of Thomas Lindstrom, Matt Colford, and Jack O'Connor combined for 27 points. That's 12 goals and an average of nine points per game. Yeah, they're gonna be tough to stop. Outside of those three, all of Breck's forwards have the Mustangs' patented wheeling and dealing style. Puck movement is constant and their ability to blow by defenders with quick skating is difficult for anybody to slow down.
DEFENSE: Other teams beware: not only can the Mustangs score as always, but this year they can defend as well. Junior Derek Wiitala leads the team, and the return of junior Otto Haeg, who missed nearly the entire season with a concussion, will be a boost to a young and talented defensive corps.
GOALTENDING: Henry Johnson isn't the flashiest of goaltenders but he's technically sound, and a huge growth spurt this summer has made him a large and intimidating presence. When he faces enough shots to get in a rhythm, Johnson will be tough to beat.
In high school, Les Larson manned the blue line as a defenseman for Hill High School. His trademark as a coach however has been his ability to churn out dynamic scorers who have carried his squads to the state tournament every year he's been at Breck. Five years on the bench, five trips to state, and two championships in 2009 and 2010 color his resume and an incredible 125-20-3 career record shows Larson flat out knows how to win in the regular season and the playoffs.
Breck should make it to the championship if it can slip by No. 3-seeded Hermantown. A rematch of the Mustangs' 1-0 loss to the Cadets in last season's semifinals would be a fabulous title game that either team could win.
2012-13 Record: 24-3-1
State trips: 1994, 96, 97, 2000 Champs, 04 Champs, 09 Champs, 10 Champs, 11, 12, 13
Coach: Les Larson
Assistants: Pete Larson, Josh Tucker
Home arena: Anderson Ice Arena, Golden Valley
Last season: Beat Thief River Falls in Class 1A third-place game, 4-3