Twelve of sixteen section finals have been set for the Class 2A and Class 1A run to the Boys State High School Hockey championship. To date, there have not been the dramatic overtime thrillers that we experienced last season, yet many of the games have been well balanced and have offered a high level of competition. The Hub will take a look at the Section finals and handicap them as we prepare for the Section Finals to be played this Thursday and Friday across the State of Hockey. Today, we will examine the Class 2A and tomorrow it will be the Class 1A section playoffs.
#4 Rochester Century (14-11-2) vs #2 Lakeville North (9-18-0)
Surprise, surprise, a school named Lakeville is in the Section 1AA final and between Lakeville and Lakeville North-Lakeville South, they have appeared in six of the past eight State tournaments with Rochester Century making the trip twice in 2005 and 2007.
The two teams met in December as Lakeville North won by a score of 4-3. Brad Foster and Taylor Saunders each had a goal an assist for North while Tyler Anderson had a goal and an assist for Century who outshot North 42-30 for the game. Goalie Matt Arentz made 39 saves in the win.
The game will be a home game of sorts for the #4 seeded Rochester Century Panthers as it will be played this Friday night at the legendary Rochester Rec Center. Game time is set for 7pm. Century qualified for the Section Finals by defeating Winona 3-2 in overtime this past Friday and came back the following day to handle cross-town rival Rochester Mayo 7-3. Lakeville North defeated Farmington 6-0 and dispatched their neighboring rival Lakeville South by a score of 5-2.
#2 Edina (23-4-0) vs #1 Bloomington Jefferson (26-1-0)
This is the most highly anticipated game of the season as two long time High School Hockey powers face off in what would be worthy of a State Final at the Xcel Energy Center. It won’t be, and this game is proof positive that the Section Semi-final and Finals can be more intriguing than the actual State Tournament. The water cooler discussion about these two teams has been aplenty,
Edina is 10-3 against teams that have been ranked in the top ten at some point while the Jaguars are 2-1 against teams in the top ten. Edina plays in the smaller Classic Lake where the competition if fierce every night and Jefferson plays in the Lake Conference which is bigger and there may not be as intense of a schedule. With that said, Lakeville North, Eden Prairie, Apple Valley, and Jefferson are all playing for Section titles this week.
Both teams have talent upfront and the defensemen to get the job done. They also have good goaltending and are equipped with fine coaching staffs. Ultimately, as is the case in most games, it will come down to the team that makes the fewest mistakes, has the better special teams, and receives the goaltending they need. Edina qualified for the finals with a 10-1 win over Prior Lake and 4-1 win over Hill Murray. The Jaguars dispatched Shakopee 12-0 and Burnsville 6-0. Will the Hornets be able to snap the shutout string? Be sure to log onto MyFoxHockey.com Thursday night at 6pm to find out. They will be on the big sheet at Mariucci Arena as the first of a spectacular double header with Eden Prairie and Minnetonka playing second at 8pm in the Section 6AA final.
#4 Apple Valley (14-12-1) vs #2 Cretin-Derham Hall (19-7-1)
The #4 seed Apple Valley Eagles surprised the #1 seed Woodbury Royals by a score of 2-0 in the semi-finals this past Saturday. AJ Michaelson converted a power play goal from Chris Fisher midway through the third period and Derek Thompson added an empty net goal to lift the Eagles to the Section 3AA finals. They opened the Section playoffs with a 5-2 win over Eastview.
Cretin Derham-Hall has outscored their two opening round opponents by a combined score of 13-3 in sending Park of Cottage Grove packing with a 7-3 win and shutting out Eagan 6-0 on Saturday. Cretin Derham-Hall has won five straight since their 3-2 loss to Woodbury. The two teams will face off at the Lee and Rose Warner Coliseum at the State Fair Grounds this Thursday night at 7pm.
#8 St. Paul Johnson (15-12-0) vs #5 Stillwater (12-11-3 ) Wednesday 6pm St. Fair Coliseum
#3 White Bear Lake (14-10-2 ) vs #4 Hill Murray (16-9-1) Wednesday 8pm St. Fair Coliseum
The St. Paul Johnson Governors could be the best eight seed in the house this year and they proved it with a gutty 4-3 win over the #1 seed Tartan Titans. Up next for the Governors is the up and down Stillwater Ponies who are 3-4-1 in their past eight games. On the other side is the improbable semi-final matchup between the White Bear Lake Bears and Hill Murray Pioneers. The sectional game between the two is not that big of a shock, but the fact that they are playing a game earlier than the finals is. These two charged rivals always give a great game, and be ready for a memorable tilt at the Lee and Rose Warner Coliseum at the Minnesota St. Fair Grounds this Wednesday.
#4 Osseo (14-12-0) vs #1 Blaine (22-3-1)
All four teams rank in the top five slots and the 4th place team is still alive in the Elk River Elks who take on the Duluth East Greyhounds in the Section 7AA final this week. Blaine has taken two games from the Osseo Orioles this year by scores of 7-3 and 4-1. The Orioles finished the season with a bang by defeating Elk River 3-1 and Centennial 5-4. The Orioles defeated Champlin Park 6-3 in a spirited quarterfinal round game while Blaine defeated Irondale 9-2.
The Centennial Cougars limped into the Sectional playoffs with a 2-3-1 in their last six including a 5-2 loss to Maple Grove The Cougars righted the ship with a sturdy 7-0 win over North Metro. The Crimson fell one game short of a Conference title and defeated Coon Rapids 7-0 in their quarterfinal game. Their first contest against each other resulted in a Centennial 2-1 win.
What more needs to be said than this Section final will be the close to a heavyweight evening in Minneapolis as the Section 2AA title will be determined at 6pm Thursday while the 6AA final will be sorted out after at 8pm. Both games can be seen on MyFoxHockey.com. These two teams faced off earlier in the season and it was Eden Prairie pulling away with a 4-2 win. The scored 3 second period goals and played a sound game. The Skippers have peaked to a level of play that few teams are at in the State right now making this a pick 'em game. Minnetonka advanced to the Finals with a 10-0 shutout over Cooper and a 4-1 win over Wayzata. Eden Prairie defeated Minneapolis East 10-3 and 3-1 win over Benilde-St. Margaret's.
The Duluth East Greyhounds are built for the post season, and so are the Elk River Elks. Both teams are incredibly disciplined and hardworking. Both have outstanding coaches, and both have a great tradition of State Tournament success. The Elks need to travel to the DECC for the Section final on Thursday night, and their hands will be full with the Hounds. They are more than capable of defeating the Hounds who survived a scare by defeating Forest Lake 3-2 in overtime to advance to the Section Final. The Hounds also took care of the Princeton-Milaca by a 10-0 score in the first round. Elk River's path the Section finals was less dramatic than the Hounds and included wins over Anoka 6-0 and Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 6-1. These two teams hooked up earlier in the year and it was Duluth East picking up the 5-3 win.
This marks the third time these two rival and classy teams face off this season. Moorhead won both games as seen on MyFoxHockey.com by scores of 5-0 in Roseau and 4-3 in overtime in Moorhead. Anything can happen in this contest, yet do not lose site of the fact that a number of key Rams have been there before and understand how special it is to get to St. Paul. Not lost is the fact that the Spuds of Moorhead are a tough team and they are built for the post season. Roseau needed overtime to topple St. Cloud Tech 3-0 and worked Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake 10-0 in the opening round. The Spuds defeated Buffalo 4-0 in the semi-finals and handled River Lakes 8-0. They face off in Thief River Falls a the Little Ralph on Wednesday.
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