Benilde-St. Margaret’s vs.

St. Michael-Albertville

7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 4

Excitement and St. Michael-Albertville have been synonymous since the start of the season.

The hysteria dates to a Dec. 5 game against Holy Family Catholic in which the Knights surrendered six consecutive goals — and won 7-6 in overtime. They’ve played in five other overtime games, with only one of them ending in a loss. 

The Knights have also seen remarkable improvement. They lost to Lake Conference opponents Minnetonka and Wayzata by a combined 15-7 in December, then beat the same teams by an aggregate 10-6 in January.

Speaking of hairpin turnarounds, on Jan. 4 the Knights had an overall record of 4-6-2. They were bottom-feeding in the conference standings and looked destined for an undesirable seed in the Class 2A, Section 8 playoffs. St. Michael-Albertville has since gone 7-1-1, and could, if everything breaks perfectly, win the Lake and slip ahead of Moorhead to earn the top seed in Section 8.

A victory over nonconference opponent Benilde-St. Margaret’s (it’s Knights versus Red Knights!) in our Top Game of the Week on Tuesday won’t help St. Michael-Albertville’s positioning in the Lake, but it would certainly boost its case for a top section seed.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s, ranked No. 9 in the Class 2A coaches’ poll from Jan. 29, has had a season remarkably similar to St. Michael-Albertville. The Red Knights were treading water with a 6-5-2 record on Jan. 4 but have gone 6-1-0 since. They play out of the brutally tough Class 2A, Section 6, where the top five teams all have the talent to win a state title. A win over St. Michael-Albertville would help the Red Knights’ cause for avoiding the dreaded No. 4 or 5 seed and insanely difficult quarterfinal matchup, most likely with defending Class 2A state champion Edina.

Both St. Michael-Albertville and Benilde-St. Margaret’s (12-6-2, 3-1-0) are teams that prefer speed and puck movement over a more methodical trapping and dumping style. St. Michael-Albertville (11-7-3, 4-3-1) boasts one of the state’s most potent forward lines in seniors Adam Flammang (29 goals, 52 points) and Luc Layin (22 goals, 48 points), who play alongside sophomore Casy Laylin (team-best 34 assists), Luc’s younger brother.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s has a more balanced attack, although senior Cooper Gay and sophomore Adam Marshall, each with a team-leading 14 goals, have cranked up their scoring in recent games.