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Hill-Murray's Tyler Funk (26) and White Bear Lake's Thomas Delaney (2) look for the puck in last year's Section 4AA final, won by the Pioneers. Photo by Brian Nelson

When one ticks off the best high school hockey rivalries in the state, a few obvious collisions jump to the forefront: Warroad vs. Roseau, Duluth East vs. Cloquet/Esko/Carlton, Grand Rapids vs. Greenway, Hibbing/Chisholm vs. Virginia/Mt. Iron-Buhl, Burnsville vs. Bloomington Jefferson. And on and on. Yes, Minnesota spawns plenty of top rivalries, even outside the Top 10 rankings. But arguably the best of them all hits the ice this Thursday at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood when White Bear Lake visits Hill-Murray.

Why is that?

It has many factors in its favor. It’s an in-season game against teams that have played for the section title nearly every season for more than two decades. One team (Hill-Murray) has dominated in recent memory, but the other (White Bear Lake) has enough upset wins in key games to plant doubt in the final result. The fan bases despise each other. The players circle this game on their calendars. Up until last year, the teams shared a home rink (Aldrich Arena).

Enough?

It should be. White Bear Lake vs. Hill-Murray has the history to easily make it our top game of the week of Jan. 13-19, 2014.

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