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Stillwater Area retains the top spot in the Class 2A Minnesota coaches’ poll for the second straight week, after wins over Mounds View and Bloomington Jefferson by a combined score of 16-3.
Minnesota Duluth commit Noah Cates scored three times last week and continues to lead the Ponies (8-0) offensively, with eight goals and 16 points.
Stillwater, which earned nine first place votes, can solidify its position and pick up a few more first-place votes with an undefeated week, though that’s easier said than done with Prior Lake, Benilde-St. Margaret’s and No. 2 Elk River/Zimmerman on the schedule.
With a 5-0 loss to Edina as the lone blemish on their schedule, the Elks (8-1) could put together a strong case for the top spot with a 3-0 weekend. Although since they have games in consecutive days (including a Dec. 29 matchup against No. 9 Lakeville North) before Elk River faces the Ponies, they’ll need to dig deep to take down the top team.
Overall, the top-10 remains unchanged from last week, with relatively few games being played ahead of this week’s holiday tournaments.
All eyes will be on the Schwan Cup Gold Division tournament this week, where five teams who rank inside the top 10 will face off against one another, which is likely to cause a shakeup in next week’s rankings.
In the bottom half of the rankings, Moorhead (5-2-1) drops from No. 13 to No. 17 after falling to Roseau, and tying No. 9-1A Alexandria last week, while Maple Grove (6-3) moves up from 15th to replace the Spuds, despite a 5-2 loss to section rival Blaine last week, which cracked the top-20 after the win.
Delano/Rockford remains the top team in Class 1A with eight first-place votes, though that may change next week depending on the outcome of its game against second-ranked Hermantown in the semifinals of the Hilltopper Holiday Classic in Duluth.
The Tigers’ top line of Ben Meyers, Brian Halonen and John Keranen have combined for 106 points so far, but the Hawks, winners of five-straight games, have succeeded through a difficult first-half schedule loaded with Class 2A teams.
Although it fell to St. Michael-Albertville 5-3 last week, Breck (4-3) checks in at No. 4 this week, behind St. Paul Academy. To remain in the top five, the Mustangs will have to pick up some quality wins in the Schwan Cup Silver Division, which includes ranked foes such as No. 6 Mahtomedi (3-3) and No. 16-2A St. Michael Albertville (6-1).
After ranking ninth and tenth last week, Hibbing/Chisholm and Alexandria switched places this week. The Cardinals (3-3-3) topped seventh-ranked Greenway 5-4 on Dec. 27, so expect the rankings to flip-flop accordingly next week, if Alexandria is able to overcome Virginia/Mountain Iron Buhl and Hibbing/Chisholm this week.
Warroad was 15th in Class 1A last week, but the Warriors (1-6-1) fell outside the top-20 and are receiving votes in this week’s poll after dropping its fourth consecutive game.
Replacing Warroad in the top-20 is St. Paul Johnson (7-1-1), which is off to a blazing start to the season, allowing just five goals in its past eight games after a season-opening 5-2 loss to Minneapolis.
As is the case in Class 2A, the Class 1A rankings are due for some changes next week, with a number of ranked teams facing one another in holiday tournaments.
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