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Classic Lake rewind

02/15/2010, 3:06pm CST
By Tim Kolehmainen

The Week Ahead features another No. 1 versus No. 2 showdown

Wayzata at Minnetonka (7 pm, Thursday, Feb. 18)

Just three weeks ago, we tabbed the first Wayzata-Minnetonka showdown as our “Game of the Week.”

It didn’t disappoint. And there’s no reason to expect the rematch this Thursday night to be any less worthy. So we’re going to the well one more time in the final regular season installment of the “Game of the Week.”

A few things have changed since that first meeting.

Wayzata (19-2-2) has climbed to the No. 2 spot in the rankings, buoyed by a 1-1 tie in that game back on Jan. 30.

Minnetonka (21-1-1) is no longer unbeaten after falling to Edina in a shocker this past week, 5-4 in overtime. The Skippers led 4-0 after one period and appeared ready to reprise their 7-1 rout of the Hornets on Jan. 23. Instead, Edina rallied to end Minnetonka’s dreams of the first unbeaten season in big-school high school hockey since Bloomington Jefferson’s perfect 1993 squad.

But when you steal the big dog’s bone from under its nose, it’s not likely to be happy. The result should just make the Skippers hungrier.

They certainly took out their anger on Robbinsdale Armstrong last week, routing the Falcons 12-1 behind four goals from Jake Thornberg and a hat trick from Tommy Lundquist. The scary thing for any opponent is that those two are only eighth and ninth in scoring on the Skippers behind forwards Derek Frawley (14-27-41), Max Gardiner (17-23-40), Max Coatta (19-20-39), Thomas Schutt (18-16-34) and Connor Ryan (6-17-23) and defensemen Andrew Prochno (7-28-35) and Justin Holl (16-13-29). Needless to say, Minnetonka can put the puck in the net.

But the Skippers are even more feared on defense, where their three Division I recruits and goaltender Jim Kruger (14-1-1, 1.55, .935) make them one of the stingiest teams in the state. Minnetonka allows just 1.35 goals a game.

Wayzata is equally stingy, allowing just 1.65 goals a game between rotating goaltenders Alex Clayton (8-1-1, 1.73, .922) and Andrew McIntyre (11-1-1, 1.52, .917). The Trojans’ defense is led by junior D.J. Jones (5-18-23), who doesn’t get as much attention as the Minnetonka trio, but is arguably their equal on the ice. He’ll be a key to slowing down the Skippers’ offense again, as he did in their first meeting.

The Trojans also have a balanced offense that features 10 players with at least 13 points, but may not have quite the firepower as Minnetonka. Junior Tony Cameranesi (16-27-43) leads the way, just ahead of Scott Holm (21-18-39), Mario Lucia (13-24-37) and Danny Walsh (10-20-30).

 

Top games of the week

Time/Date Visiting Team Home Team Stats
2 pm, Saturday, Feb. 20   Breck   Blake Stats and Play-by-Play
Can anyone stop Breck’s romp to a second straight Class A title? The Mustangs look like easy favorites in Section 2A, but if anyone can pull an upset, it may be their Tri-Metro rivals from Blake. But it won’t be easy. Breck has only lost one game to a Minnesota high school opponent, falling in overtime to St. Thomas Academy in early December. In their first meeting with Blake, the Mustangs romped 7-1 behind two goals each from Riley and Charlie Borer. Since the turn of the calendar, the Bears have only lost two games -- one to No. 2A Breck and the other to No. 1AA Minnetonka.
2:30 pm, Saturday, Feb. 20   Burnsville   Bloomington Jefferson Stats and Play-by-Play
Burnsville has surged its way into serious Section 2AA contention by going 12-1-1 in its past 14 games (including a 2-2 tie with Jefferson on Jan. 14). Now the Blaze can wrap up second placed in the Lake Conference (and quite possibly the No. 2 seed in the section) by beating Jefferson on its home ice on the regular season’s final day. On the other hand, the Jaguars can stake claim to exactly the same swag with a victory. Since the tie with Bu, Jefferson has gone 8-2-0 with the only losses coming to Lake champion Eden Prairie.
7:30 pm, Tuesday, Feb. 16   Virginia/MIB   Hibbing/Chisholm Stats and Play-by-Play
Thanks to a front-loaded schedule, this is Virginia’s only game over the final 11 days of the regular season. The Blue Devils should be well-rested as the likely top seed in Section 7A, but how will it affect this game? The Iron Range neighbors are bitter rivals and may just play each other in the section tournament again later the following week. Knowing history, they’ll both be out to win this game. Virginia claimed the first meeting (5-1 on Jan. 16), scoring five goals on just 19 shots. Casey Myhre made 18 saves for the Blue Devils.
7:30 pm, Thursday, Feb. 18   Mahtomedi   St. Thomas Academy Stats and Play-by-Play
This could very well be a preview of the Section 4A final for the second straight season. Last year, Mahtomedi upset the top-seeded Cadets to get to state after losing to and tying them in the regular season. It’s déjà vu this winter, as STA already beat the Zephyrs once (6-3 on Jan. 20) and now meet up in the regular season finale again. Mahtomedi has a terrific high-scoring top line that includes defenseman Ben Marshall (16-29-45), but the Cadets may have more overall depth.
7 pm, Friday, Feb. 19   Holy Angels   Benilde-St. Margaret’s Stats and Play-by-Play
As expected, the Stars have been rolling through the Missota Conference slate (12-0-0), but it’s tough to get a read on where they might stand in the Section 2AA playoffs. The season finale at Benilde-St. Margaret's should give a good indication. Benilde has also been unbeaten in its conference (10-0-1 in the North Suburban) and could use a test entering the tough Section 6AA playoffs. It could be a high-scoring game, as the teams combine to score more than 12 goals a game. Holy Angels has seven players with at least 10 goals, while the Red Knights have five.
7:30 pm, Thursday, Feb. 18   Cretin-Derham Hall   Woodbury Stats and Play-by-Play
Woodbury has placed itself in good position to win the Suburban East Conference title by going 10-1-1 in its last dozen games, including a victory over White Bear Lake last Saturday in which Minnesota State bound Max Gaede had a hat trick. The only roadblock left is a regular season finale against Cretin-Derham Hall. Win it, and the Royals own sole title possession. Lose it, and they could be tied by Forest Lake, which plays Mounds View.
7 pm, Tuesday, Feb. 16   Sartell-St. Stephen   Brainerd Stats and Play-by-Play
Two teams that had hopes of earning a top seed in their respective sections dashed in the past two weeks now hope to just get on a roll entering the playoffs. Sartell-St. Stephen likely lost the top seed in Section 6A with a 4-1 loss to Alexandria on Feb. 4, while Brainerd was just beaten by Moorhead for the top seed in Section 8AA. The 4-2 loss ended a 15-game winning streak for the Warriors. Yet both teams should be plenty dangerous as the section playoffs start.
7:30 pm, Saturday, Feb. 20   Hill-Murray   Moorhead Stats and Play-by-Play
This just might be a preview of a Class AA state tournament game, as both teams have made themselves the prohibitive favorites in their respective sections. Hill-Murray has won 13 of its past 14 games and boasts of a terrific defense that allows just 1.64 goals a game. The Pioneers will be the top seed in Section 4AA, while Moorhead will be the top seed in Section 8AA after beating Brainerd last Saturday. The Spuds’ record may be just over .500 (11-9-2), but they were in the same position last year before ending up in the state championship game.
7:30 pm, Tuesday, Feb. 16   Duluth Central   Hermantown Stats and Play-by-Play
A fond – and sad -- farewell to regular season hockey forever at Duluth Central, which will be closed this summer as Duluth’s public schools pare down to just Denfeld and East. The Trojans are going out in style, though, with a 15-7-1 record through 23 games. They’re led by double-digit goal-scorers Ben Wrazidlo (21-18-39), Alec Lofdahl (15-11-26) and Mike Andrews (16-7-23) and stalwart goaltender Bret Gitar (15-7-1, 2.67, .903). Hockey history in Duluth won’t forget the Trojans.

 

The Breakdown

 

Breakdown editor Tim Kolehmainen may be reached at tim@mnsportspreview.com.

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