QUARTERFINAL New Prague (20-8) vs. East Grand Forks (No. 3, 23-4), 1 p.m. Wednesday
Scouting the Trojans: New Prague apparently took copious notes last year while making the first state tournament appearance in program history. The Trojans strongly resemble last year’s state champion East Grand Forks team, as they are loaded with big, strong, mobile defensemen who play in front of a rock-steady goaltender. Senior captains Jake Klein and Casey Busch lead the defensive corps that also includes “Big Mitch” El-Wailli (6-5, 205). Senior goaltender Conner Wagner (2.13 goals-against average, .912 save percentage) was the backbone of last year’s state tourney team and is in the midst of another stellar season. Junior Alex Gregor has 31 goals in 28 games, almost double the amount of the next-highest Trojans’ goal-scorer.
Scouting the Green Wave: East Grand Forks has survived an injury-plagued season that knocked several top players out of the lineup at various times. Junior defenseman Trevor Selk’s status remains questionable for the tournament. The Green Wave hasn’t had a full lineup intact since a 2-1 victory over Class 2A state tourney entrant Blaine on Jan. 2. Senior forward Dixon Bowen, a Mr. Hockey finalist who has committed to North Dakota, leads the Green Wave in goals (25), assists (31) and points (56). Senior goalie Josh Weber (1.51 goals-against average, .925 save percentage) went 16-3 as a follow up to last year’s championship season.
Worth knowing: East Grand Forks went 3-1 against North Dakota rivals Grand Forks Central and Grand Forks Red River to earn Red River bragging rights.