St. Thomas Academy at Mahtomedi
7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 8

St. Thomas Academy (10-0-0), ranked No. 3 in the Class 2A coaches poll dated Jan. 2, 2015, is one of just two remaining unbeaten big-school teams (along with No. 1-2A Lakeville North). But it’s not a place many expected the Cadets to be in at this point in the year.

The Cadets' first season in Class 2A ended short of a state tourney berth, as they were upset by No. 4 seed Eagan in the Class 2A, Section 3 finals. In the offseason, star forward Tom Novak decided to depart a year early for juniors, leaving a few question marks for St. Thomas Academy. But the top line of Christiano Versich (11-20-31), Alec Broetzman (12-18-30) and Peter Tufto (12-15-27) has certainly picked up the slack. The Cadets just romped through the elite Schwan Cup Gold Division field over the holidays, beating Duluth East, Minnetonka and Burnsville by a combined 16-4 score. Yes, the Cadets are for real.

So is No. 4-1A Mahtomedi (11-1-0), which has only lost to No. 4-2A Hill-Murray through its first 12 games. Coach Jeff Poeschl has talked about his team’s scoring depth, and it’s been evident as no opponent save Hill-Murray has been able to slow the Zephyrs’ offense. Mahtomedi has also been getting solid goaltending from Will Swanson (11-1-0, 2.31, .911), something that will have to continue against the Cadets.