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Your complete guide to the Class A sections

By Tim Kolehmainen, 02/23/09, 8:24AM CST


The Breakdown previews all eight Class A section tournaments, giving you the top seeds, top scorers, top goalies and a look at how it all might shake down.

By Tim Kolehmainen, Editor of The BREAKDOWN

Section 1A (click for bracket)

Top seeds – (record, ranking, record vs. other top seeds)
1. Red Wing (18-7-0, No. 11, 3-1-0)
2. New Prague (17-8-0, NR, 2-2-0)
3. Rochester Lourdes (17-7-0, No. 14, 2-2-0)
4. Albert Lea (17-8-0, NR, 1-3-0)

AdamsLeading scorers
1. Schyler Adams (New Prague)            40-25-65
1. Tyler Lapic (New Prague)            23-42-65
3. Andrew Bruggeman (Mankato West)            44-18-62
4. Tyler Voigt (Lourdes)            28-27-55
5. Tyler Prihoda (Albert Lea)            34-19-53
5. Jordan Prescher-Smerud (Albert Lea)            20-33-53

Top goaltenders
1. Nick Heimer (Lourdes)            12-6-0, 2.16, .867
2. Sam Amendolar (Red Wing)            16-7-0, 2.50, .890
3. Adam Trautman (Mankato West)            10-5-3, 2.66, .893

The skinny: Any one of the four top seeds could represent Section 1A at state, and don’t forget about No. 5 seed Mankato West.  Red Wing is the favorite and enters the playoffs winning 10 of its last 11 games, including two victories over New Prague and one over Albert Lea.  During that stretch, Blake Schammel has been nearly unstoppable for the Wingers, piling up four multiple-goal games and six games with at least three points (an 11-game run of 16-17-33).  The Wingers have responded to a tough early schedule.  Rochester Lourdes and New Prague both have very potent offenses, with first lines that can rival any in the state.  Lourdes rides all-time leading scorer Tyler Voigt (28-27-55), Taylor Funk (30-21-51) and Cole Peterson (16-33-49) while New Prague has Schyler Adams (40-25-65), Wisconsin-bound Tyler Lapic (23-42-65) and Darren Lapic (15-35-50) leading the way.  If they can limit the goals they allow, both will be plenty dangerous.

Section 2A (click for bracket)

Top seeds – (record, ranking, record vs. other top seeds)
1. Breck (21-3-1, No. 4, 1-0-0)
2. Orono (15-10-0, NR, 1-2-0)
3. Mound-Westonka (15-10-0, NR, 1-1-0)
4. Rogers/Zimmerman (15-10-0, NR, 0-0-0)

KesslerLeading scorers
1. Riley Horgan (Mound-Westonka)            30-36-66
2. Tom Kessler (STMA)            24-39-63
3. Joe Rehkamp (Breck)            17-37-54
4. Tyson Fulton (Breck)            23-30-53
5. Ben Persian (Orono)            29-22-51

Top goaltenders
1. John Russell (Breck)            15-3-1, 1.61, .934
2. Evan Oncay (Blake)            9-3-0, 1.99, .917
3. Johnny Gabos (Orono)            12-8-0, 2.32, .900

The skinny: Breck is heavily favored to come out of Section 2A and is the only ranked team.  But they didn’t get much of a look at the rest of the section, only seeing No. Orono (although beating them handily, 5-1, back on Jan. 27).  Blake has had a stranglehold on this section in recent years, but the Mustangs surpassed them this season.  Watch out if Breck gets through, as expected.  They’ve made two state trips in the past nine years and won the state title both times.  The Mustangs are young, with a roster full of juniors except for top scorer Joe Rehkamp (17-37-54) and top defenseman Reid Herd (9-18-27).  Second-seeded Orono and third-seeded Mound-Westonka butted heads twice in the Wright County Conference, splitting the two games.  Both have snipers in Orono’s Ben Persian (29-22-51) and Chris Hanson (23-11-34) and the Whitehawks’ Riley Horgan (30-36-66) and Kirby Horgan (15-23-38).  But both don’t have the depth to realistically challenge Breck this time.  Rogers/Zimmerman is a wild card in the section, as the Royals moved down from Class AA this year and didn’t play any of the other top team in the section during the season.

Section 3A (click for bracket)

Top seeds – (record, ranking, record vs. other top seeds)
1. New Ulm (20-4-1, No. 15, 1-1-0)
2. Hutchinson (17-7-0, NR, 1-1-0)
3. Willmar (10-13-0, NR, 1-1-0)
4. Redwood Valley (18-5-1, NR, 0-0-0)

Leading scorers
1. Kyle Reinarts (New Ulm)            32-37-69
2. Phil Paquette (Luverne)            37-28-65
3. Nick Eisenmenger (Windom)            32-23-55
4. Mitchell Cowger (Hutchinson)            22-31-53
5. Riley Bengsten (Hutchinson)            30-21-51

Top goaltenders
1. Blake Burgau (New Ulm)            7-2-1, 1.87, .915
2. Justin Wiggins (New Ulm)            13-2-0, 2.05, .901
3. John Rebstock (Redwood Valley)            18-5-1, 2.31, .891

The skinny: Section 3A is the least-known (and arguably the least respected) of any section in the state, but that’s a distinct result of the lack of top clubs.  Last year, Litchfield/D-C made it to state with a sub-.500 record, an unlikely occurrence this time unless Willmar gets hot and upsets the top two seeds.  New Ulm has a 19-game winning streak against in-state teams, but the best team in that entire stretch is arguably unranked Sartell-St. Stephen, the No. 3 seed in Section 6A.  But the Eagles can fill the net against their schedule, recording six goals a game.  All-Stater Kyle Reinarts (32-37-69) leads the way in a section that has several of the top scorers in the state, such as Hutch’s big do of Mitchell Cowger (22-31-53) and Riley Bengtson (30-21-51).  Willmar is a team on the rise, with a very talented sophomore class, and Redwood Valley is a great story, winning the Southwest Conference in just their fourth year as a varsity program.

Section 4A (click for bracket)

Top seeds – (record, ranking, record vs. other top seeds)
1. St. Thomas Academy (19-4-2, No. 3, 3-0-2)
2. South St. Paul (17-5-3, No. 10, 2-1-1)
3. Mahtomedi (17-6-2, No. 11, 1-3-1)
4. Totino-Grace (16-7-3, NR, 0-2-0)

Leading scorers
1. Dan DeLisle (Totino-Grace)            30-22-52
2. Christian Isackson (STA)            16-31-47
2. Charlie Adams (Mahtomedi)            15-32-47
4. Wyatt Wenzel (St. Paul Academy)            30-16-46
4. Justin Crandall (St. Thomas Academy)   22-24-46

Top goaltenders
1. Matt McNeely (STA)            7-1-0, 1.75, .911
2. Kurt Altrichter (STA)            11-3-1, 1.97, .912
3. Adam Wilcox (South St. Paul)            15-5-3, 2.23, .913

The skinny: The Classic Suburban is well-represented in Section 4A, where defending state champion St. Thomas Academy is the favorite, despite losing many top players to graduation.  The Cadets are filled with top underclassmen, with nine of their top-10 scorers and both goaltenders in that category.  Juniors Christian Isackson (16-31-47) and Justin Crandall (22-24-46) and sophomore A.J. Reid (22-18-40) comprise the first line, while junior goalie Kurt Altrichter has already backstopped one state championship.  The Cadets were unbeaten against the other top seeds, but both South St. Paul and Mahtomedi managed to tie them, giving hope.  There is plenty of top young talent in the rest of the section, as well.  The Packers are also quite young, relying on a sophomore goalie (Adam Wilcox) and underclass scorers Jesse Poznikowich (7-28-35), Austyn Young (11-21-32) and Trevor Mikacevich (18-11-29).  Mahtomedi has arguably the best sophomore defenseman in the state in U of M recruit Ben Marshall.

Section 5A (click for bracket)

Top seeds – (record, ranking, record vs. other top seeds)
1. St. Cloud Cathedral (21-2-1, No. 5, 3-0-0)
2. Hermantown (22-3-0, No. 6, 2-1-0)
3. Duluth Denfeld (13-11-1, NR, 1-2-0)
4. Sauk Rapids-Rice (8-17-0, NR, 0-3-0)

Leading scorers
1. Adam Krause (Hermantown)            24-30-54
2. Cody Hotchkin (Denfeld)            19-38-47
3. Cody Christopherson (Hermantown)            23-22-45
3. Nate Schmidt (Cathedral)            21-24-45
5. Jordan Palusky (Cathedral)            24-18-42

Top goaltenders
1. Nick Maiers (Cathedral)            19-2-1, 1.51, .920
2. Ben Tessier (Hermantown)            16-3-0, 2.09, .911
3. Matt Messina (Denfeld)            13-11-1, 2.60, .894

The skinny: Section 5A stretches across a broad geographic area, although the top teams have all played each other this season, giving a great indication of where this one is headed.  Cathedral beat the other three top seeds in head-to-head matches, including a thrilling 2-1 victory over No. 2 Hermantown on Jan. 26.  It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the two programs match up in the finals, either.  Cathedral has won 15 straight games behind a very strong defense, led by junior Nate Schmidt (21-24-45).  He’s already on his way to the University of Minnesota and is one of the top offensive defensemen in the state – able to dominate the game both with his offense and his defensive prowess.  Hermantown had a hiccup against Red Wing on Valentine’s Day, but it hasn’t kept the Hawks from entering the playoffs as a top-10 team.  Hermantown has very good balance among its top scorers and has benefited from a baker’s dozen of double-figure point scorers.  Adam Krause (24-30-54) and Cody Christopherson (23-22-45) are the top scorers.  With all the talk about those two, Denfeld sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.  But the Hunters will be aiming for both, although they lost to each in the regular season.

Section 6A (click for bracket)

Top seeds – (record, ranking, record vs. other top seeds)
1. Little Falls (25-0-0, No. 1, 6-0-0)
2. Alexandria (20-4-1, No. 9, 3-2-1)
3. Sartell-St. Stephen (17-7-1, NR, 2-3-1)
4. Fergus Falls (8-15-1, NR, 0-6-0)

Leading scorers
1. Ben Hanowski (Little Falls)            57-53-110
2. Riley Hirsch (Little Falls)            25-30-55
2. Peter Lindblad (Morris/Benson)            35-20-55
4. Trevor Ness (Wadena-DC)            33-20-53
4. Izaak Berglund (Little Falls)            16-37-53

Top goaltenders
1. Matt Hemingway (Alexandria)            20-4-1, 1.41, .937
2. Michael Sperl (Little Falls)            25-0-0, 1.51, .931
3. Brent Orndorf (Sartell-SS)            17-6-1, 2.68, .894

The skinny: All eyes will be on Little Falls as the Flyers enter the playoffs as the only unbeaten team in the state.  They’re primed for a state title run with a huge and talented senior class of 14, including the new all-time leading scorer in state history, Ben Hanowski (57-53-110), who will just add to his record 380 points with every game the Flyers play.  The Flyers are most well-known for their high-flying offense that has averaged just over seven goals a game, but it’s their defense that will be the key to a title run.  Seniors Izaak Berglund (16-37-53), Logan Kalis (3-25-28), Jordan Gosiak (7-12-19) and Joe Rydeen are big and rugged, not afraid to throw their weight around and play a tough game in front of senior goalie Michael Sperl.  But it isn’t a forgone conclusion that they’ll make it out of Section 6A.  Alexandria is looming as the No. 2 seed with a great defense and goaltender in Matt Hemingway.   The Cardinals twice played Little Falls to one-goal losses, dropping a 4-3 game on Dec. 12 and losing 1-0 on Jan. 22.  And Sartell-St. Stephen is a dangerous No. 3 seed and tied Alexandria 3-3 on Feb. 5.  The Sabres could play spoiler, but odds are they’ll be a possible favorite next winter.  Top scorers Andy Worzala (17-25-42), Ryan Nahan (5-28-33), Matt Nahan (21-15-36), Austin Plaine (14-18-32), Andrew Deters (16-19-35) and Matt Hussman (11-15-26) are all returning.

Section 7A (click for bracket)

Top seeds – (record, ranking, record vs. other top seeds)
1. Virginia/MIB (20-5-0, No. 7, 3-2-0)
2. Hibbing/Chisholm (14-9-1, NR, 3-2-0)
3. International Falls (16-7-2, No. 14, 2-2-0)
4. Duluth Marshall (14-10-1, NR, 0-2-0)

Leading scorers
1. Chris Westin (Virginia)            29-38-67
2. Garrett Hendrickson (Virginia)            21-34-55
3. Aaron Jamnick (Hibbing)            27-21-48
4. Pat Mahoney (Marshall)            14-25-40
4. Will Corrin (Int’l Falls)            20-20-40

Top goaltenders
1. Will Lustig (Virginia)            15-5-0, 1.81, .916
2. Mike Hart (Int’l Falls)            13-5-1, 2.68, .878
3. Nathan Tromp (Hibbing)            14-9-1, 2.85, .883

The skinny: Four top-20 teams are set to do battle in Section 7A.  The semifinals of this section should be the best in the state and it isn’t hyperbole to say that any of the four could be the section representative at state.  Virginia is the hottest team, winning 15 of its last 16 games and taking the Iron Range Conference crown with a 7-1 rout of No. 2 Hibbing in the final week of the regular season.  The Blue Devils have one of the top scoring lines in the state in Chris Westin (29-38-67), Garrett Hendrickson (21-34-55) and Andrew Judnick (12-22-34) along with defenseman Jordan Krebsbach (14-21-35), but if they are to play deep into March, they’ll need contributions from the second and third lines.  Hibbing is in the same situation, as Aaron Jamnick (27-21-48) is a top sniper, but only Ryan Hanegmon (12-11-23) has even double-digit goals among the rest of the roster.  International Falls and Duluth Marshall also enter the playoffs on a losing note.  The Broncos fell 7-3 to Roseau in their finale, while Marshall was beaten 5-2 by St. Cloud Cathedral.  The Hilltoppers have been to four straight state tournaments and have lost the state title game in each of the last two. 

Section 8A (click for bracket)

Top seeds – (record, ranking, record vs. other top seeds)
1. Warroad (23-2-0, No. 2, 6-0-0)
2. Thief River Falls (19-4-2, No. 8, 4-2-0)
3. Bemidji (13-11-1, NR, 1-4-0)
4. Crookston (11-12-0, NR, 0-5-0)

Leading scorers
1. Brock Nelson (Warroad)            35-23-58
2. Lucas Dillon (Thief River Falls)            24-29-53
3. Brett Hebel (Warroad)            17-35-52
4. Jake Useldinger (East Grand Forks)            25-26-51
5. Dane Shaugabay (Warroad)            18-32-50

Top goaltenders
1. Zane Gothberg (Thief River Falls)            18-4-2, 1.49, .937
2. Jason Goldsmith (Warroad)            22-2-0, 1.55, .911
3. Brady Yrjo (Park Rapids)            11-6-1, 2.20, .900

The skinny: Warroad is the heavy favorite to return to state, although Thief River Falls could be a big roadblock.  The Warriors have the history, with 19 state tournament visits and four state titles.  They also edged the Prowlers 2-1 in a thrilling multiple-overtime game in last year’s Section 8A semifinals on their way to state.  Thief River Falls is still trying to break Warroad’s stranglehold on the northwest corner of the state.  The Prowlers have made one state trip (2006) in their history.  It might not be a surprise to see them play a similar game in this year’s finals.  Both have outstanding defensive clubs backed by top goalies, Warroad with Jason Goldsmith and Thief River Falls with Zane Gothberg.  But whereas the Prowlers post four goals a game, Warroad can fill it up at just over five goals a game.  The Warriors also beat Thief River Falls twice already this season (3-1 on Jan. 8 and 5-1 on Jan. 22).  Bemidji might be a darkhorse candidate, but they’ll have to pump up their goal-scoring to compete.  Even with a 12-goal outburst in their season finale over Greenway, the Lumberjacks only scored 86 goals in 25 games, led by Jared Bergquist (13-7-20) and Jesse Nemgar (12-29-41).