QUARTERFINALS Edina (No. 2, 24-1-2) vs. Bemidji (23-3-2), 11 a.m. Thursday
Scouting Edina: Linemates Dylan Malmquist (28 goals, 43 assists) and Garrett Wait (23-48) give Edina two of the state’s highest-scoring forwards. But it’s their willingness to work hard on the defensive end that stands out to coach Curt Giles. “The best way to gain an offensive edge is to play well defensively,” Giles said. “We’ve believed that since I’ve been here.” The Hornets have allowed 48 goals, third to Bemidji and Lakeville North (both 35) as the field’s stingiest team. Top-four defensemen Ben Foley, Paul Meyer, Luke Perunovich and Clayton Phillips can physically punish opponents. Edina can become the first big-class program to win three consecutive state titles since Bloomington Jefferson (1992-94).
Scouting Bemidji: Fans seeking a tournament darling need look no further than Bemidji, making its first trip to St. Paul since 1986. Balanced scoring — six players have at least 10 goals, led by Jake Leitner (22) — and goaltender Grant Tharaldson are the Lumberjacks’ strengths. Tharaldson did not allow a goal in Bemidji’s three Section 8 playoff games. Bemidji finished 10th in the Let’s Play Hockey coaches poll but did not play any teams in the tournament field.
Worth remembering: George Pelawa, a big, strong forward, led Bemidji to the 1986 state tournament and won the Mr. Hockey award. He died in a traffic accident later that year.
DAVID LA VAQUE