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 we approach the holiday tournament season, four teams have really stood out at the top of the rankings. From the Class AA ranks, Minnetonka, Eden Prairie and Bloomington Jefferson have been dominant in winning all of their games thus far. St. Thomas Academy from the Class A ranks joins the big trio after an impressive victory over Breck last week.
Not much changed among the top 10 teams, but there was plenty of movement in the lower half of the top 20, as many teams suffered losses last week. Roseau, Osseo and Andover slide into the rankings for the first time, while Hermantown, Apple Valley and Woodbury drop out after disappointing losses.
|1|| Eden Prairie
The Eagles haven’t had the dominating victories of Minnetonka and Bloomington Jefferson behind them, but until the defending state champions stumble, they remain in the top position. Last week, Eden Prairie beat Chaska (7-2) and Lakeville North (4-2) to remain unbeaten. Junior Kyle Rau (8-2-10) leads the team in scoring, picking up almost half the team’s goals through three games. Mitch Rogge (3-6-9) is also playing a big offensive role, while Andrew Ford (3-0-0, 1.33) has picked up right where he left off last season. A big test comes this weekend in the Edina Holiday Classic.
|3-0-0||Thursday vs. Elk River at Edina (6 pm), Friday vs. Grand Rapids at Edina (6 pm), Saturday at Edina (8:30 pm)|
The Skippers didn’t play last week, so it was tough to make up ground on Eden Prairie. Minnetonka’s accomplishments remain plenty impressive, though, with three shutouts in four games thus far, outscoring the competition 30-1. Max Gardiner (6-9-15) and Thomas Schutt (6-2-8) lead the team in goals, while defenseman Andrew Prochno (4-11-15) is an offensive force. Justin Holl and Troy Hesketh are defensive stalwarts in front of netminder Jim Kruger (3-0-0, 0.33). The Skippers’ Saturday showdown with St. Thomas Academy just might be the best – and most anticipated – regular season game this winter.
|4-0-0||Tuesday vs. Park (7 pm), Saturday vs. St. Thomas Academy (7 pm)|
|3|| Bloomington Jefferson
Jefferson certainly has its offense in high gear so far this winter, scoring no fewer than seven goals in any game. Last week, the Jaguars rocked Lakeville South (9-3) and Apple Valley (10-3). Defenseman Jeff Pauluk (1-16-17) leads the state in assists and is just one of several defensemen who are offensive threats for coach Jeff Lindquist’s team, along with Princeton recruit Joe Faust (3-8-11). UMD-bound Caleb Herbert (8-7-15), Tyler Dietzler (9-5-14) and Ryan Siiro (7-4-11) have provided the bulk of the goal scoring. Justin Woodley (5-0-0, 1.80) has been solid in net.
|5-0-0||Thursday vs. Eagan (7:30 pm), Saturday vs. Eastview (7:30 pm)|
|4|| St. Thomas Academy
In a terrific season-opening match-up, St. Thomas Academy proved it was the early class of Class A hockey, beating defending state champion Breck 4-3 in overtime in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. Christian Isackson (6-4-10), Justin Crandall (2-7-9) and Zach Schroeder (7-2-9) lead the team in scoring through three games. The Cadets have scored 22 goals in three games but have also given up 10, including five to Tartan last week. How do the Cadets match up against top Class AA teams? We’ll find out on Saturday when they travel to Minnetonka.
|3-0-0||Thursday at North St. Paul (8 pm), Saturday at Minnetonka (7 pm)|
|T5|| Benilde-St. Margaret's
It only seems fair to give Benilde and Hill-Murray a tie for fifth place in the rankings this week after what happened last Tuesday on FSN, when the two teams played to a 2-all tie. Benilde followed that game with a 10-1 rout of Irondale four days later. The Red Knights have two top scoring lines and one of the top goaltenders in the state in Jacob Meyers (3-0-1, 1.68). Patrick Daly (1-9-10) and Brett Patterson (3-7-10) lead the team in points, while freshman Grant Besse (6-1-7) is the top goal-scorer.
|3-0-1||Tuesday vs. Cretin-Derham Hall (7 pm), Thursday vs. Chisago Lakes (7 pm)|
Hill-Murray earned a push up the rankings with a 2-2 tie with Benilde last week, followed by back-to-back shutouts against Henry Sibley (10-0) and South St. Paul (4-0). The Pioneers are well balanced, with two lines that can score and a host of top defensemen such as Chris Casto (3-3-6) and J.D. Cotroneo. Jack Walsh (3-7-10) leads the Pioneers in points, while Willie Faust (5-0-5) is the top goal-scorer ---- he had both in the game against Benilde. A game to watch is the big Classic Suburban showdown Saturday at Mahtomedi.
|4-0-1||Tuesday vs. White Bear Lake (8 pm), Thursday at Simley (7:30 pm), Saturday at Mahtomedi (3 pm).|
The Mustangs take a step back after being beaten by St. Thomas Academy, but it’s tough to drop them much farther, as the Cadets are clearly one of the top team’s in the state – as is Breck, which proved it with a big victory over St. Cloud Cathedral (8-3). Goaltender John Russell (3-1-0, 2.65) nearly pulled out a victory against St. Thomas Academy and can do so in any game on any night. Tyson Fulton (5-6-11) and Riley Borer (4-4-8) are the top point-getters, while Chase Nystedt (6-1-7) leads in goals.
|3-1-0||Saturday vs. Orono (3 pm)|
Again, that was close. After barely edging Osseo in overtime in the Section 5AA playoffs last winter, the Orioles again gave Blaine a run last week before falling 3-2. But the Bengals again retained superiority in the Northwest Suburban and section races. Minnesota-bound Nick Bjugstad (4-6-10) and Jonny Brodzinski (4-5-9) have been quite a scoring tandem on the top line for the Bengals. Brodzinski was in on all three goals against Osseo, scoring one and assisting on the other two. Senior Tony Larson has played his usual terrific defense in front of Danny Harper (2-0-0, 3.00).
|3-0-0||Thursday at Champlin Park (7:30 pm), Saturday at Anoka (7:30 pm)|
Wayzata remained unbeaten thus far, but the Trojans had to scratch and claw to pull out a 4-all tie against Osseo. The Trojans led 4-2 in the third, but the Orioles wouldn’t go away. Tony Cameranesi (5-6-11) continues to lead the team in scoring and is tied with Scott Holm (5-1-6) for goals. Mario Lucia (3-5-8) is proving to be a valuable addition to the offense, while Andrew McIntyre and Alex Clayton have been steady in nets. This week, the Trojans again have only one game, but it could be a tough one against an undoubtedly angry Apple Valley team.
|4-0-1||Tuesday vs. Apple Valley (7 pm)|
|10|| Holy Angels
Holy Angels waited longer than any team in the state to start its season, then took it out on visiting Shakopee (12-0) last Friday. The Stars led 11-0 and had outshot the Sabres 46-4 before calling off the dogs in the third period. Chaska transfer Jake Erickson and Tyler Smith each had hat tricks, while three other Stars also had four-point nights. Goaltender Tommy Burke had to make just eight saves for the shutout. A pair of Missota games beckon this week against Northfield and Prior Lake.
|1-0-0||Tuesday vs. Northfield (7:30 pm), Friday vs. Prior Lake (7:30 pm)|
The Spuds asserted their place at the top of Section 8AA this past week, edging Bemidji (4-3) and downing Buffalo (10-1). The big test comes this Tuesday night when Moorhead hosts Roseau in a rematch of the section finals from last year (and from many years in the past decade-plus). The goaltending tandem of Logan Marks (2-0-0, 2.00) and Michael Bitzer (1-0-0, 1.00) is as good as any in the state, which should help the Spuds’ young defensive corps gain experience. Kyle Kraemer (5-1-6) and Braden Rahman (2-4-6) lead a balanced scoring attack.
|3-0-0||Tuesday vs. Roseau (6 pm), Saturday vs. Brainerd (7:30 pm)|
These aren’t your father’s Hornets (or even your older brother’s), but they’re still plenty dangerous. Edina took care of Woodbury (4-1) last Tuesday night to put their lone loss behind them. Now comes a big weekend with three tough teams at the Edina Holiday Classic, including defending state champion Eden Prairie on Saturday. Steven Fogarty (3-6-9) leads the Hornets in points, while Ryan Cutshall, Jake Sampson and Blake Chapman all have four goals each. Edina starts its games hot, outscoring the opposition 15-0 in the first period so far this year.
|4-1-0||Thursday vs. Grand Rapids (8:30 pm), Friday vs. Elk River (8:30 pm), Saturday vs. Eden Prairie (8:30 pm)|
|13|| Elk River
The Elks rolled through two Northwest Suburban foes last week, routing North Metro (8-0) and Anoka (9-1), but the schedule gets tougher at the Edina Holiday Classic this weekend. Elk River has been under the radar a bit so far, but that would change with some impressive performances. Sophomore goaltender Anders Franke (3-0-0, 1.33) leads a stout Elks’ defense that includes Ryan Jaremko (3-4-7). Ben Jaremko (7-3-10) and Chad Hennum (2-7-9) are the team’s top scorers.
|3-0-0||Thursday vs. Eden Prairie at Edina (6 pm), Friday at Edina (8:30 pm), Saturday vs. Grand Rapids at Edina (6 pm)|
|14|| Duluth East
Duluth East was busy last week, sweeping three games against Anoka (6-2), White Bear Lake (4-1) and Princeton (6-3). This week, the rivalry showdown with Cloquet on Thursday night will keep Northeastern hockey fans – and the Greyhounds -- on their toes. Anything can happen in the game, and usually does. East no longer has a high-powered sniper such as Max Tardy, but have plenty of balance with seven players already scoring at least two goals. Kenny Mellin (4-6-10) and Kyle Lutzka (4-2-6) each have four goals. Jo Jo Jeannetta and Joel Perlinger have split goaltending duties as coach Mike Randolph looks for a replacement for graduated Matt Cooper.
|5-1-0||Tuesday vs. Centennial (7 pm), Thursday vs. Cloquet (7:30 pm)|
Coach Albert Hasbargen’s troops suffered their first loss last week, losing to Grand Rapids 5-4 on Saturday afternoon at home. It was enough to drop them several places in the rankings, despite other victories against Lake of the Woods (8-0) and Hibbing (5-3). It’s sometimes tough to judge Class A teams against Class AA squads in the rankings and the loss to the Class AA Thunderhawks could have been telling for Warroad. The line of Brett Hebel (9-7-16), Brock Nelson (9-5-14) and Nick Stoskopf (4-5-9) continues to carry the Warriors’ offensively with 22 of their 27 goals.
|4-1-0||Tuesday at Bemidji (7:30 pm)|
|16|| St. Cloud Cathedral
Cathedral also lost its first game last week, but there is no shame in losing to Breck, although the 8-3 margin wasn’t what coach Eric Johnson had hoped for. The Crusaders’ youth on defense might be an issue, as they’re allowing 32.5 shots per game against top goaltender Nick Maiers (3-1-0, 3.25). Jordan Palusky (5-3-8) leads the team in scoring and his line, he's joined by along with Kyle Kudak and Alex Koopmeiners, is dangerous. Koopmeiners just returned from injury late last week, so expect some fireworks from the trio this week.
|3-1-0||Tuesday at Rogers (7 pm), Saturday vs. Little Falls (7:15 pm)|
|17|| Cretin-Derham Hall
Bob Kinne, Jesse Perron and Tony Barbato helped Cretin-Derham Hall remain unbeaten last week and have scored 13 of the team’s 14 goals in four games. Balanced scoring depth could be an issue for the Raiders, who will be tested this week beginning with Benilde on Tuesday night. Joe Schneider (3-0-0, 1.00) has been outstanding in goal for Cretin, although he’s received plenty of help from a tough defensive corps led by Gophers’ recruit Mark Alt.
|4-0-0||Tuesday at Benilde-St. Margaret’s (7 pm), Thursday at East Ridge (7:30 pm), Saturday vs. Forest Lake (7:30 pm)|
The Rams’ top line of Shane Omdahl (7-13-20), Adam Knochenmus (11-7-18) and Cole Kostrzewski (4-8-12) has been as prolific as any in the state so far this year. In three games since Roseau’s loss to Blaine, Knochenmus has three hat tricks. It may be tough to keep that streak going this Tuesday as the Rams visit Moorhead in a big battle for seeding in Section 8AA.
|4-1-0||Tuesday at Moorhead (6 pm), Thursday at Grand Forks Red River (6:15 pm), Friday and Saturday at Herald/Stadstad Classic (TBD)|
Keep playing the top teams in the state tough and you’ll get recognition, even if the victories have yet to come. Osseo surged into the rankings thanks to a loss (3-2 to Blaine) and a tie (4-4 with Wayzata), two teams ranked in the top-10. The Orioles also routed Rogers (9-4) in their most recent game. Osseo’s top line of Tom Windle (9-3-12), Patrick Bonner (3-7-10) and Tim Bonner (3-5-8) has been a key to their play thus far. Defenseman Sam Windle is underrated.
|2-1-1||Thursday at Coon Rapids (7:30 pm), Saturday vs. Champlin Park (7:30 pm)|
This was the toughest spot to pick this week, as there were many contenders for it, but all who are either still building their resumes (see Bemidji, Faribault, Andover, Spring Lake Park, etc) or who suffered losses last week (see Hermantown, Woodbury, Apple Valley, etc). In almost a coin flip among a dozen programs, Andover squeaks in thanks to its 2-1 victory over Hermantown last Saturday. The Huskies quietly have one of the state’s elite forwards in Cal Decowski (7-4-11) and goaltenders in Matt Ray (1-1-0, 3.50).
|2-1-0||Tuesday vs. North Metro (7:30 pm), Friday vs. Duluth Denfeld (7:30 pm), Friday at Coon Rapids (7:30 pm)|