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The Breakdown's all-class Top 20

12/07/2009, 10:02am CST
By Tim Kolehmainen

Eden Prairie and Minnetonka in dogfight for top spot

Each Monday afternoon during the hockey season, the Breakdown will throw all the teams in the state into the same hat, regardless of class, and come up with a Top-20 ranking.  The slotting of Class AA and Class A programs will no doubt bring about a healthy amount of debate.

As the second week of December begins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie continue to battle for the top spot in the rankings, just a shade ahead of No. 3 Bloomington Jefferson and Class A's dynamic private school duo of Breck and St. Thomas Academy. 

A shakeup could occur, though, as Breck hosts St. Thomas Academy this Tuesday night, Dec. 8. In other top-10 action, Hil-Murray hosts Benilde-St. Margaret's, also on Tuesday night and televised by FSN.

Cretin-Derham Hall and St. Cloud Cathedral slide into the rankings for the first time, while Centennial and South St. Paul drop out after disappointing losses.

The Breakdown's All-Class Top 20 Rankings

Rank Team Record This Week
1   Eden Prairie
Perhaps I’m just being stubborn, but until Eden Prairie does something to drop out of the top spot in the rankings, I’m going to keep them there. It sure is tough to fend off an impressive Minnetonka team, but the Eagles are the defending state champions and opened their season in style, routing Eastview 6-0 behind two goals from junior sniper Kyle Rau and a 14-save shutout by junior goaltender Andrew Ford. They have nothing for which to apologize.
1-0-0 Thursday at Chaska (7:30 pm), Saturday at Lakeville North (7:30 pm)
2   Minnetonka
Two more games, two more shutouts for the Skippers. It’s hard to start a season any better than Minnetonka, which has now outscored its opposition 30-1 in four games. In a trip to the Iron Range last week, Minnetonka shut out both Hibbing (8-0) and Virginia (7-0). Max Gardiner scored three goals and four assists in the two games, while Alex Glockner (15 saves) and Jim Kruger (20 saves) each had a shutout. This week, the rest of the state gets a break from the Skippers’ juggernaut.
4-0-0 no games scheduled
3   Bloomington Jefferson
Jefferson had an impressive showing last week, shutting out Chaska (7-0) and following it up with a surprisingly easy 9-2 victory against Centennial. Top forwards Tyler Dietzler and Caleb Herbert each scored a pair of goals in both games, while Ryan Siiro notched a hat trick against the Cougars. Junior Justin Woodley, who took over for Brimsek Award winner Casey O’Connor in nets, only faced 30 shots in the two games, but stopped 28 of them. With a tough defense including Joe Faust, Jeff Pauluk and Jake and Nate Perpich, Woodley only needs to be consistent for the Jaguars to continue to win.
3-0-0 Thursday at Lakeville South (7:30 pm), Saturday vs. Apple Valley (7:30 pm)
4   Breck
The Mustangs proved early that they are the team to beat in Class A, romping in surprisingly easy fashion over Mahtomedi (7-1) and Red Wing (8-3), two programs also expected to be among the tops in Class A. Breck showed off its depth, which includes 20 returning letterwinners, by getting goals from 11 players. Riley Borer, Tyson Fulton, Chase Nystedt and Austin Rudnick all had two goals each. John Russell played in both games and will be one of the top netminders in the state again this winter. It appears as if it will be tough for most Class A teams to hang close to Breck, but if one can, it will be this Tuesday when St. Thomas Academy faces off against the Mustangs. With a trip to St. Cloud Cathedral on Saturday, it’s a great week to get a read on how dominant Breck truly will be.
2-0-0 Tuesday vs. St. Thomas Academy (7:30 pm), Friday at St. Cloud Cathedral (7:15 pm)
5   St. Thomas Academy
What a way to start the season. St. Thomas Academy travels across the Metro to face defending state champion Breck Tuesday night in the season opener for the Cadets. If any team can give the Mustangs a run for their money, it’ll be St. Thomas Academy, which returns nearly as many top veterans as Breck. With the forward depth of Christian Isackson, A.J. Reid, Justin Crandall and others, a strong defensive corps and very experienced goaltender Kurt Altrichter, the Cadets will again be very strong.
0-0-0 Tuesday at Breck (7:30 pm), Thursday at Tartan (7:30 pm), Saturday vs. Simley (7:30 pm)
6   Benilde-St. Margaret's
It starts with some very impressive young goal-scorers for coach Ken Pauly’s Red Knights. Benilde freshman Grant Besse and sophomore Christian Horn each had four goals in two games last week to lead the team to victories over St. Cloud Tech (4-1) and Stillwater (9-3) – one of the Hub’s featured games. Combined with senior Brett Patterson, the trio give Benilde a very high-powered top line with great offensive puck control. They certainly don’t play like underclassmen. Benilde is also strong in nets with senior Jacob Meyers, one of the top netminders in the state. A big test comes Tuesday night with an FSN-televised game against Hill-Murray.
2-0-0 Tuesday at Hill-Murray (8 pm), Saturday vs. Irondale (2:30 pm)
7   Hill-Murray
The Pioneers opened up their season with two solid victories against quality opponents, beating Burnsville (5-2) and Duluth Marshall (3-1). Hill-Murray’s scoring load was spread around to seven different players, with David Bruchu the only player with more than one goal. Goaltender Tim Shaughnessy has had a strong start, making 42 saves on 45 shots in the two games (.932 save percentage). There could be some big movement in the rankings with their FSN-televised showdown with Benilde-St. Margaret’s Tuesday night.
2-0-0 Tuesday vs. Benilde (8 pm), Thursday at Henry Sibley (7:30 pm), Saturday vs. South St. Paul (8 pm)
8   Blaine
Blaine survived a long trek up to Roseau this past week, squeezing past the Rams 5-4 on a goal from Jonny Brodzinski with just 45 seconds remaining. Gophers’ recruit Nick Bjugstad had tied the game just a minute and a half earlier with his third goal of the game. Roseau had 3-1 and 4-2 leads before the Bengals rallied. An interesting test awaits Blaine on Thursday, as it travels to Osseo to take on one of the darkhorse contenders in Section 5AA and a team that nearly beat the Bengals in the section semifinals last winter.
1-0-0 Thursday at Osseo (7:30 pm), Saturday vs. Coon Rapids (7:30 pm)
9   Wayzata
Wayzata continued its early-season surge through the top teams in the state, beating Centennial (4-2) and edging Duluth East in overtime on the road (4-3). The Trojans trailed East late in the third before Tyler Klein tied it and defenseman Miles Death ripped in the game-winner at the 4:53 mark of overtime. Tony Cameranesi and Scott Holm lead a balanced attack with five goals each, while sophomore Mario Lucia has three goals (and yes, he is the son of Gophers’ coach Don Lucia).
4-0-0 Tuesday vs. Osseo (7 pm)
10   Holy Angels
We’re still waiting on the first glimpse of the Stars, who don’t open their season until this Friday against Shakopee. What should we expect to see? How about some goal-scoring. The Stars have talented snipers in Connor and Ryan Reilly, John LaBate and Chaska transfer Jake Erickson, the leading scorer for the Hawks last winter.
0-0-0 Friday vs. Shakopee (7:30 pm)
11   Warroad
The Warriors kicked off their season with a road trip to the west Metro and returned home with two victories, beating Mound-Westonka (5-0) and Orono (5-2). All-State forward Brett Hebel came out on fire, netting five goals in the two games. Playing on Warroad’s top line with big and talented Brock Nelson and underrated Nick Stoskopf, the trio has scored all 10 goals thus far this season. Coach Albert Hasbargen will need more scoring depth to be a top state contender, but that line is as good as any in the state. Goaltender Shawn Storey has been solid in his first two games, making 32 saves on 34 shots.
2-0-0 Tuesday vs. Lake of the Woods (2:15 pm), Friday vs. Hibbing (7:30 pm), Saturday vs. Grand Rapids (2:30 pm)
12   Hermantown
Charlie Comnick pumped in a hat trick as Hermantown opened its season with an 8-2 victory over Sauk Rapids-Rice. The Hawks are quick and experienced and will be a handful for any team in the state, regardless of class. Forward Adam Krause, a UMD recruit, added two goals and five assists. Experienced defensemen Jeff Paczynski, Chad Bannor, Connor Hady, Brian LeBlanc and Jared Kolquist will make it tough for opponents to get any traction on offense.
1-0-0 aTuesday vs. Two Harbors (7:30 pm), Friday at Hopkins (7 pm), Saturday at Andover (3 pm)
13   Apple Valley
Apple Valley is another team with very talented young scorers. Freshman Hudson Fasching has been a huge addition to the Eagles’ offense. After tallying a hat trick in the Eagles’ latest victory over Lakeville North (6-1), he leads the team with five goals and six points. Super sophomore A.J. Michaelson added his first two goals of the season and also has six points. Defensively, Apple Valley has been very stout thus far, allowing just 38 shots in three games. Goaltender Aaron Gretz has won both his starts, making 23 saves.
3-0-0 Thursday at Burnsville (7 pm), Saturday at Bloomington Jefferson (7:30 pm)
14   Edina
Ouch. Edina certainly got its offense rolling last week, shutting out both Burnsville (4-0) in an FSN-televised game and then routing St. Louis Park (17-0). Jake Sampson had four goals and Ryan Cutshall added three in the big win over the Orioles, although it certainly wasn’t a case of the Hornets’ running up the score by playing its top line exclusively. Ten Hornets scored goals and 15 had at least one point. The Hornets have had to recover from the graduation of their talented top line, but getting scoring up and down the lineup is one way to do it.
3-1-0 Tuesday at Woodbury (7:30 pm)
15   Moorhead
The Spuds went on the road to kick off the season and beat Grand Rapids (4-1) in a game that wasn’t really as close as the score indicated. Moorhead outshot the Thunderhawks in every period, beginning with a 17-3 first-period advantage. Quin Buckellew, Braden Rahman, Brandon MacLeod and Lucas Henry all scored goals for the Spuds. Coach Dave Morinville’s club has speed up and down the lineup and a two talented goaltenders in Michael Bitzer and Logan Marks, who earned the victory with 17 saves on 18 shots.
1-0-0 Thursday at Bemidji (7 pm), Saturday at Buffalo (3 pm)
16   Elk River
Elk River passed its first test, erupting for a 6-3 victory over Andover in an important game for Section 7AA seeding. Ben Jaremko scored two goals as the Elks turned a 1-0 first-period deficit into a big second-period lead. Sophomore Anders Franke made 12 saves on 15 shots and will only get better as the season progresses. The Elks have depth both on the forward lines with Chad Hennum and Levi Lutz and in the defensive corps with Ryan Jaremko.
1-0-0 Thursday at Anoka (7:30 pm), Saturday vs. North Metro (3 pm)
17   Duluth East
The young Greyhounds nearly pulled out an impressive victory Saturday, but ended up falling in overtime to Wayzata (4-3) for their first loss of the winter. There is no shame in that result, particularly as coach Mike Randolph tweaks his lineup to find combinations that work. East is largely unproven, but plenty talented. Kenny Mellin and Nolan Meyer lead the goal-scorers with two each, while Jo Jo Jeannetta has been the main man in nets thus far. Getting veteran Jayce Paulseth back will help.
3-1-0 Tuesday at Anoka (7 pm), Friday vs. White Bear Lake (7:30 pm), Friday vs. Princeton (7:30 pm)
18   St. Cloud Cathedral
Cathedral may have lost nearly all of its defensive corps from last year, but the Crusaders proved they can still put the puck in the net, opening their season with victories over St. Cloud Apollo (7-1) and Sartell-St. Stephen (5-3). Jordan Palusky, the team’s leading goal-scorer last winter, picked up right where he left off with four goals in the two games. The Crusaders’ inexperienced defensive corps had plenty of support in nets from veteran goaltender Nick Maiers, who stopped 37 of 41 shots in the two games. The victory over Sartell was a key battle for the St. Cloud area bragging rights. Another huge game awaits on Friday when top-ranked Breck comes to the MAC for a state-wide, bragging rights showdown.
2-0-0 Friday vs. Breck (7:15 pm), Saturday vs. Duluth Denfeld (6 pm)
19   Cretin-Derham Hall
The Raiders were expected to be a tough defensive team and the first week of the season proved that was no mirage. Cretin shut out Blake (2-0) and then downed Stillwater (4-1), allowing just a single goal in their first two games. Defenseman Mark Alt anchors a big and physical defensive corps that allowed goalie Joe Schneider to stop 38 of 39 shots in the two games. The line of Bob Kinne, Jesse Perron and Tony Barbato have combined to score all six of the Raiders’ goals.
2-0-0 Thursday vs. Mounds View (7:30 pm), Saturday at Park (7:30 pm)
20   Woodbury
The Royals responded to their big loss to Minnetonka by getting right back on track, rolling past Eastview (5-0) and East Ridge (5-1) in a new rivalry game created by the opening of the new school. A handful of families in that game had an older son on Woodbury and a younger one on East Ridge, making for some interesting dynamics. One of those families was the Hylands, whose older son Walker had a goal and an assist for Woodbury and is second on the team in scoring (2-6-8) to MSU-Mankato-bound Max Gaede (5-4-9).
3-1-0 Tuesday vs. Edina (7:30 pm), Thursday vs. Park (7:30 pm), Saturday at Stillwater (7:30 pm)

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