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Dream matchups

02/16/2010, 12:18pm CST
By Loren Nelson, Editor

State rankings: Playoffs could provide another round of 1 vs. 2 thrillers

In both Class AA and A, the only significant movement in the rankings over the past few weeks can be attributed to Edina, which climbed all the way to No. 2 at one point this season, dropped to No. 8 after a string of surprising losses and is back up at No. 5 after stunning previously unbeaten Minnetonka.

Without Edina stirring things up, the rankings could very well be assembled merely by hitting cut and paste.

Minnetonka and Wayzata are the consensus No. 1 and 2 teams in Class AA, and St. Thomas Academy and Breck are the far-and-away frontrunners in Class A in the weekly poll of a statewide panel of coaches and media members.

Beyond those four teams, Hill-Murray, Eden Prairie, Bloomington Jefferson and Blaine in Class AA and Hermantown, Warroad, Mahtomedi, Virginia and Thief River Falls in Class A all have been mainstays in the rankings.

So who has the best team?

As it happens, Minnetonka and Wayzata play on Thursday in what should be a classic No. 1 vs. 2 showdown. Those teams could meet again in the Section 6AA playoffs in a game that would have an even higher intensity level.

As for St. Thomas Academy and Breck, they would have to meet in the state tournament in what would be a dream matchup of the Twin Cities private school juggernauts.

CLASS AA RANKINGS

Rank Team Record Prev. Last Week This Week
1   Minnetonka
The Skippers didn't just suffer their first loss of the season -- to Edina last week -- they also surrended a 4-0 first-period lead. They are still the unanimous No. 1, although Thursday's game against Wayzata will not only settle who gets the top ranking but also the Classic Lake Conference title and No. 1 seed in Section 6AA. Yeah, it's a big game.
21-1-1 1 Lost to No. 5 Edina 5-4 in OT; Beat Robbinsdale Armstrong 12-1 vs. No. 2 Wayzata, Thursday, Feb. 18; at Buffalo, Saturday, Feb. 20
2   Wayzata
Trojans, who began the season unranked, haven't lost since Jan. 7, a streak of 12 games. Who knew they would be this good, especially defensively? Seven of their 19 victories have been by shutout.
19-2-2 2 Beat Lakeville North 6-1; Beat Robbinsdale Armstrong 12-1; Beat Buffalo 11-0 at No. 1 Minnetonka, Thursday, Feb. 18; vs. Hopkins, Saturday, Feb. 20
3   Eden Prairie
Eagles showed the resolve of a championship team last week by rallying to beat Bloomington Jefferson in thrilling showdown of top 10 teams. Lack of scoring depth remains unresolved, although junior Kyle Rau (36 goals) seems perfectly capable of providing as much offense as the Eagles need.
17-4-1 5 Beat No. 6 Bloomington Jefferson 4-3 in OT; Beat Rosemount 11-0 at Eastview, Tuesday, Feb. 16; at Lakeville South, Thursday, Feb. 18; vs. Apple Valley, Saturday, Feb. 20
4   Hill-Murray
Tim Shaughnessy, who has seven shutouts and a .923 save percentage, is having as good a season as any goaltender in the state. Of course, it helps to have a defensive corps led by big, strong and sometimes nasty seniors Chris Casto and Jordan Johnson.
20-2-1 3 Beat Tartan 4-0; Beat Richfield 16-1 at North St. Paul, Tuesday, Feb. 16; at Moorhead, Saturday, Feb. 20
5   Edina
How many personalities can one team have? Edina has been so good, then so average and then, suddenly, so spectacular in knocking off previously unbeaten Minnetonka.
15-6-1 8 (tie) Beat No. 1 Minnetonka 5-3 in OT; Beat Hopkins 5-2 vs. Buffalo, Thursday, Feb. 18; at Robbinsdale Armstrong, Saturday, Feb. 20
6   Bloomington Jefferson
Jaguars had rival Eden Prairie on the ropes but couldn't finish the deal in a disappointing loss. They did, however, discover they have a big-game goaltender in sophomore Eric Fabano.
17-4-2 6 Beat Eastview 5-2; Lost to No. 3 Eden Prairie 4-3 in OT at Lakeville North, Thursday, Feb. 18; vs. No. 9 Burnsville, Saturday, Feb. 20
7   Blaine
Bengals showed an alarming lack of energy, espeically in the third period, in loss to arch rival Centennial. Blaine still managed to keep the game close, an encouraging sign should the teams meet again.
16-4-3 4 Beat North Metro 9-1; Lost to No. 8 Centennial 3-2 vs. Maple Grove, Thursday, Feb. 18; vs. Andover, Saturday, Feb. 20
8   Centennial
After starting the season with three losses in their first five games, Cougars have lost just twice. Centennial is getting great goaltending from Brett Larsen, who has allowed just two goals in his last three starts.
15-5-3 7 Beat North Metro 9-1; Tied Elk River 0-0; Beat No. 7 Blaine 3-2 vs. Andover, Thursday, Feb. 18; at Osseo, Saturday, Feb. 20
9   Burnsville
Blaze notched two more shutout victories last week and have been defensively dominant for weeks. Season-ending game against Bloomington Jefferson on Saturday is a huge one for both teams.
14-6-3 8 (tie) Beat Eastview 5-0; Beat Bloomington Kennedy 9-0 at Rosemount, Thursday, Feb. 18; at No. 6 Bloomington Jefferson, Saturday, Feb. 20
10 (tie)   Eagan
Wildcats have been a study in consistency all season. Not a particularly flashy team, but with 17 wins they clearly have devised a formula for success that starts with sound defense and great goaltending.
17-4-1 10 Beat Park (Cottage Grove) 3-1; Beat Eastview 6-1 at Apple Valley, Thursday, Feb. 18; vs. Rosemount, Saturday, Feb. 20
10 (tie)   Holy Angels
Remember the Stars? They were a consensus top 10 team to start the season but three straight losses during the holiday tournament season knocked them out of these rankings. Here they are again, powered by a platoon of high scoring forwards led by Joseph LaBate and his 26 goals.
14-7-1 Not ranked Beat Prior Lake 10-2 vs. Red Wing, Thursday, Feb. 18; at Benilde-St. Margaret's, Friday, Feb. 19

 ALSO RECEIVING VOTES: Duluth East

Class A rankings

Rank Team Record Prev. Last Week This Week
1   St. Thomas Academy
Cadets have scored five or more goals in 11 of 13 games. They also are getting great defensive play and goaltending, a combination that should serve them well when the playoffs begin.
19-4-0 1 Beat No. 8 Rochester Lourdes 5-3; Beat Richfield 14-0; Beat Henry Sibley 7-0 vs. South St. Paul, Tuesday, Feb. 16; vs. No 4 Mahtomedi, Saturday, Feb. 20
2   Breck
Other than a loss to the top Shattuck-St. Mary's team and a tight win over Rochester Lourdes, the Mustangs have gone virtually unchallenged since early January. Tyson Fulton's 66 points puts him in the top 10 in state scoring.
20-2-0 2 Beat St. Paul Academy 9-2; Beat St. Paul Como Park 14-2 vs. St. Paul Saints, Tuesday, Feb. 16; vs. Totino-Grace, Thursday, Feb. 18; at Blake, Saturday, Feb. 20
3   Hermantown
Hawks, undefeated against Class A competition, have a deep defensive corps, exceptional goaltending tandem in Tiegen Brickson and Tyler Ampe and a Mr. Hockey candidate in 30-goal scorer in Adam Krause. Is it any wonder they are the prohibitive favorite to win the Section 5A tournament?
20-3-0 3 Beat Duluth Denfeld 5-4; Beat Red Wing 7-2 vs. Duluth Central, Tuesday, Feb. 16; vs. Hibbing/Chisholm, Friday, Feb. 19
4   Mahtomedi
The Zephyrs' only two losses in their last 14 games were to Hill-Murray and St. Thomas Academy. They finish regular season with another matchup against rival St. Thomas Academy, and the teams could very well meet for a third time in the Section 4A tournament.
18-5-0 4 Beat Henry Sibley 8-2; Beat Tartan 2-1 at Simley, Tuesday, Feb. 16; at No. 1 St. Thomas Academy, Thursday, Feb. 18
5   Warroad
Warriors coming off impressive week in which they beat three quality opponents (Grand Forks Red River, N.D., Moorhead and Bemidji). Sophomore Andy Foster getting the job done in goal while Shawn Storey recovers from a knee injury.
20-4-0 5 Beat Grand Forks Red River 4-1; Beat Moorhead 5-3; Beat Bemidji 5-1 at Lake of the Woods, Tuesday, Feb. 16
6   Virginia
Blue Devils posted impressive blowout victory last week over Duluth Marshall. They will be the favorite to come out of a tough, balanced Section 7A tournament.
15-6-3 7 Beat Duluth Marshall 7-2 at Hibbing/Chisholm, Tuesday, Feb. 16
7   Thief River Falls
Prowlers don't score a lot of goals (Micah Ranum, with 22, is the only player with more than 13) but they don't need to with Zane Gothberg in goal. Gothberg recently was named the winner of the Frank Brimsek Award, which is given annually to the state's top senior goaltender.
16-7-0 6 Lost to Roseau 3-2 at East Grand Forks, Tuesday, Feb. 16; at Bemidji, Thursday, Feb. 18
8   Rochester Lourdes
The Eagles have played both St. Thomas Academy and Breck, the No. 1 and 2 Class A teams all season, tough late in the season. Looking for stars on this team? Look again. Scoring is distributed evenly between top six players who are separated by just four points.
13-7-3 8 (tie) Lost to No. 1 St. Thomas Academy 5-3; Beat New Ulm 8-2 at Mankato West, Tuesday, Feb. 16; vs. Totino-Grace, Saturday, Feb. 20
9   Alexandria
Big win over St. Cloud Cathedral last Saturday helped bounce the Cardinals back into the top 10. Thomas Williams, with 29 goals, is doing the bulk of team's scoring.
17-5-1 Not ranked Beat Sauk Rapids-Rice 6-2; Beat Fergus Falls 3-1; Beat St. Cloud Cathedral 4-2 at River Lakes, Tuesday, Feb. 16; at Moorhead, Friday, Feb. 19
10   Sartell-St. Stephen
The Sabres have been up-and-down but appear to be heading into playoffs on an upswing. They had won eight of nine heading into Tuesday's showdown with Brainerd.
16-6-2 Not ranked Beat River Lakes 6-1; Beat St. Cloud Apollo 4-0 at Brainerd, Tuesday, Feb. 16

 ALSO RECEIVING VOTES: Faribault, Blake, International Falls, South St. Paul, Totino-Grace

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