Centennial vs. Elk River

3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9

Elk River and Centennial finished No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the Northwest Suburban Conference North Division title race last season after splitting their season series.

Centennial looks to be the favorite to finish atop the standings this year, as the No. 6- 2A Cougars return 16 players (seven on defense) from last season's 22-victory team.

Mr. Hockey candidate Lucas McGregor decided to forgo a chance to play for Central Illinois in the United States Hockey League and is back for his senior season after leading the Cougars with 29 goals and 26 assists last year.

The Elks counter with the scoring duo of Jack Perbix and Connor Bizal, who played roles in all of Elk River's goals in a 3-1 victory over the Cougars a year ago. Bizal leads the Elks (2-0) this season, with four goals and four assists, followed by Perbix's two goals and five assists.

Saturday's matchup is this season's first major test for both teams. Centennial recorded 6-2 victories over Roseau and Robbinsdale Armstrong/Cooper in back-to-back games last weekend, and Elk River defeated Coon Rapids 8-0 last Thursday and Spring Lake Park 8-1 two days later.