It's Minnetonka and Wayzata and everyone else in Class AA. In Class A, Breck and St. Thomas Academy are the dominant teams.
But where do the No. 3s -- Eden Prairie (Class AA) and Mahtomedi (Class A) -- fit in the mix? Are Hill-Murray and Hermantown capable of winning Class AA and A titles, respectively?
A statewide panel of coaches and media members had its final say on who belongs where in the Hub's weekly rankings, but now, with the playoffs underway, the rankings that matter most ultimately will be decided on the ice.
In Class A, Mahtomedi knocked St. Thomas Academy out of the No. 1 spot thanks to a 6-3 triumph in the regular season finale. Those teams are expected to meet again in the Section 4A final. Looking ahead, the winner of that game very well might face Breck in the state tournament.
Wayzata, which started the season unranked, has climbed all the way to No. 2. The Trojans even stole a few No. 1 votes from Minnetonka this week. Those teams, after two regular season ties, could meet in the Section 6AA final, assuming both survive what will be semifinal showdowns against high-caliber opponents.
|Rank||Team||Record||Prev.||Last Week||This Week|
After winning their first 19 games, Skippers finished the season with just three wins in their final six. For the first time in months, they weren't the unanimous No. 1 choice in the poll.
|22-1-2||1||Tied No. 2 Wayzata 3-3 in OT; Beat Buffalo 6-0||vs. Robbinsdale Cooper or Minneapolis West, Thursday, Feb. 25 (Section 6AA quarterfinals)|
Hottest team in the state? Look no further than the Trojans, who haven't lost since Jan. 7, a stretch of 14 games.
|20-2-3||2||Tied No. 1 Minnetonka 1-1; Beat Hopkins 3-2 in OT||vs. Minneapolis East, Thursday, Feb. 25 (Section 6AA quarterfinals)|
|3|| Eden Prairie
Defending state Class AA champions won the rugged Lake Conference title and always seem to find a way to win the big games.
|20-4-1||5||Beat Eastview 8-1; Beat Lakeville South 5-2; Beat Apple Valley 4-1||vs. Robbinsdale Armstrong, Thursday, Feb. 25 (Class 6AA quarterfinals)|
Pioneers, with just two losses, and both of those against high-quality teams (Blaine and St. Thomas Academy) quietly assembled one of the state's most impressive regular seasons.
|22-2-1||3||Beat North St. Paul 5-4; Beat Moorhead 3-2||vs. St. Paul Como Park or St. Paul Saints, Saturday, Feb. 27 (Section 4AA quarterfinals)|
Bengals responded to loss to arch rival Centennial in dominating fashion, blasting solid Northwest Suburban Conference rivals Maple Grove and Andover by a combined score of 15-3.
|18-4-3||7||Beat Maple Grove 7-2; Beat Andover 8-1||vs. Irondale or Coon Rapids, Saturday, Feb. 27 (Section 5AA quarterfinals)|
Hornets have alternated brilliant play with so-so performances, but enter the playoffs riding a four-game win streak.
|17-6-2||5||Beat Buffalo 10-1; Beat Robbinsdale Armstrong 7-0||vs. Bloomington Kennedy, Thursday, Feb. 25 (Section 2AA quarterfinals)|
Goaltender Bodhi Engum (.931 save percentage, 1.76 goals-against average) is big reason why Blaze are riding 10-game win streak into the playoffs.
|16-6-3||9||Beat Rosemount 6-0; Beat No. 9 Bloomington Jefferson 3-1||vs. Shakopee, Thursday, Feb. 25 (Section 2AA quarterfinals)|
Another team peaking at the right time: Cougars enter postseason on 13-game unbeaten streak.
|17-5-3||8||Beat Andover 4-2; Beat Osseo 4-3||vs. North Metro, Saturday, Feb. 27 (Section 5AA quarterfinals)|
|9|| Bloomington Jefferson
Jaguars went 0-2-1 to end regular season but will be tough to beat in the postseason if they can get some consistency in goal.
|17-5-3||6||Tied Lakeville North 4-4; Lost to No. 7 Burnsville 3-1||vs. Prior Lake, Thursday, Feb. 25 (Section 2AA quarterfinals)|
Young team closed breakout regular season with five straight wins and Wildcats earned top seed in Section 3AA for their efforts.
|20-4-1||10 (tie)||Beat Apple Valley 2-1 in OT; Beat Rosemount 4-1||vs. Henry Sibley or Rosemount, Thursday, Feb. 25 (Section 3AA quarterfinals)|
ALSO RECEIVING VOTES: None
|Rank||Team||Record||Prev.||Last Week||This Week|
Mustangs averaged 7.40 goals per game during the regular season, the most of any team in the state by a hefty margin. Their only loss to state high school competition came way back on Dec. 8 in a 4-3 OT classic against St. Thomas Academy.
|23-2-0||2||Beat St. Paul Saints 14-1; Beat Totino-Grace 5-3; Beat Blake 5-1||vs. St. Louis Park or Richfield, Friday, Feb. 26 (Section 2A Quarterfinals)|
|2|| St. Thomas Academy
Season-ending 6-3 loss to Mahtomedi knocked the Cadets out of the No. 1 spot, a position they had held ever since knocking off Breck.
|20-5-0||1||Beat South St. Paul 9-3; Lost to No. 3 Mahtomedi 6-3||vs. East Ridge, Thursday, Feb. 25 (Section 4A quarterfinals)|
Zephyrs lost twice to both Breck and Hill-Murray, split with St. Thomas Academy and have otherwise been flawless.
|20-5-0||4||Beat Simley 7-1; Beat No. 2 St. Thomas Academy 6-3||vs. Chisago Lakes, Thursday, Feb. 25 (Section 4A quarterfinals)|
Hawks survived a nice playoff tuneup by beating Hibbing/Chisholm 5-4 in regular season finale.
|22-3-0||3||Beat Duluth Central 7-1; Beat Hibbing/Chisholm 5-4||vs. North Branch, Thursday, Feb. 25 (Section 5A quarterfinals)|
Blowout loss to Roseau was only setback down the stretch for a team that typically finds another gear in the postseason.
|21-4-0||5||Beat Lake of the Woods 4-0||vs. Red Lake Falls, Thursday, Feb. 25 (Section 8A quarterfinals)|
|6|| Thief River Falls
Goaltender Zane Gothberg has been a brick wall down the stretch, and there's no commodity more coveted in the playoffs than great goaltending.
|17-7-1||7||Tied East Grand Forks 2-2; Beat Bemidji 2-1||vs. Crookston, Friday, Feb. 26 (Section 8A quarterfinals)|
Cardinals got the top seed in Section 6A by virtue of an 11-1-0 record to close the regular season.
|19-6-1||9||Beat River Lakes 6-1; Lost to Moorhead 4-3; Beat St. Cloud Apollo 9-3 (Section 6A quarterfinals)||vs. Willmar, Saturday, Feb. 27 (Section 6A semifinals)|
Blue Devils lost to rival Hibbing/Chisholm to close the regular season, and those teams could very well meet again in Section 7A playoffs.
|15-7-3||6||Lost to Hibbing/Chisholm 3-2 in OT||vs. Ely, Thursday, Feb. 25 (Section 7A quarterfinals)|
Falcons have bounced in and out of the top 10 all season but a 12-2-0 ending run has them primed for playoffs.
|19-6-0||Not ranked||Beat Rochester Mayo 8-0; Beat Le Sueur-Henders/St. Peter 9-1||vs. Mankato East, Thursday, Feb. 25 (Section 1A quarterfinals)|
|10 tie|| Rochester Lourdes
Eagles have been maddeningly inconsistent, but they are as good as any small-school team in the state when they are on.
|14-8-3||8||Lost to Totino-Grace 3-2||vs. Northfield, Thursday, Feb. 25 (Section 1A quarterfinals)|
|10 tie|| Sartell-St. Stephen
Sabres face tough matchup with Fergus Falls in Section 6A semifinals but have the talent to reach state tournament.
|17-7-2||10||Lost to Brainerd 2-1; Beat Northern Lakes 8-1 (Section 6A quarterfinals)||vs. Fergus Falls, Saturday, Feb. 2 (Section 6A semifinals)|
ALSO RECEIVING VOTES: Duluth Denfeld, Hibbing, International Falls, Spring Lake Park