Photo by SportsEngine
We task our reporters with identifying several intriguing games throughout the state to assemble our Top Games of the Week. The matchups are presented in no particular order, and when there are additional games we want to highlight, we’ll include them with brief notes.
Warroad will travel 260 miles (one way) to play Hermantown on Saturday, but the Warriors will return home riding in the fast lane to the No. 1-1A ranking with an upset of a Hawks’ team sitting atop the rankings released Jan. 5
Warroad has the balance to win the matchup. Senior Daimon Gardner enters the week fourth in the state in goals with 25, according to stats submitted to MN Hockey Hub. He’s done that in 12 games and he’s added 15 assists to his accomplishments as well. Junior Jayson Shaugabay has 29 assists — best in the state this season — making him and Gardner a potent combo for the No. 2-1A Warriors. However, Warroad doesn’t just win shootouts. The Warriors are allowing 1.24 goals per game, and goaltender Hampton Slukynsky has a .939 save percentage and six shutouts. Warroad is 14-0 for a reason.
Hermantown is No. 1 for a reason, too. The Hawks are 10-1 with their only loss a 4-2 one to No. 5-2A Cretin-Derham Hall, but they have wins over No. 8-2A Benilde-St. Margaret’s, No. 4-2A Hill-Murray and Wayzata this season. Max Plante is a big reason for that. He is tied for 18th in the state in assists this season with 19. Wyatt Carlson leads the team with nine goals.
Mahtomedi and Simley are two teams battling this season for Metro East Conference and Section 4, Class 1A titles.
Simley enters the week with the edge. The Spartans have jumped out to a 3-0 record in conference play and are 7-0 against section foes. Mahtomedi is 1-2 in conference play and 1-0 versus section opponents, meaning a Zephyrs' victory Tuesday could help their chances in both title chases.
Mahtomedi is ranked No. 5 in Class 1A, which may be high for a team with a 6-6-1 overall record. However, five of their six losses are to teams ranked in the top 10. Despite facing all that talent, goaltender Ben Dardis has the highest save percentage among goalies with over 600 minutes played. His .948 save percentage will be tested against Simley.
Casey Seidl and Jayar Luedke each have 15 goals this season for a high-scoring Simley team averaging 4.7 goals per game. Simley (11-3-0) is 9-1 over its last 10 games and has scored three or more goals in all nine wins. Simley’s only loss over that stretch is to Eau Claire North.
This game could have a significant impact on the South Suburban Conference standings.
Lakeville North is 4-1-0 in the conference and Eastview is 5-2-0, and both trail league leaders Lakeville South and Rosemount, so a win Thursday would help either the Panthers or Lightning jump back into contention.
Lakeville North is hot. The No. 14-2A Panthers have won seven in a row after losing two of their first three games. The offense has carried the Panthers this season. They average 4.4 goals per game, and Kyle Doll leads the team in points with eight goals and eight assists. Defender Zach Enebak has a notable 10 points from four goals and six assists.
They’ll be facing a stout Eastview defense that is allowing only 2.5 goals per game, the second best in the conference. Goaltender Jay Svaren has a .917 save percentage in just over 500 minutes played. Forward John Kisch leads the 17-2A Lightning with 20 points from 15 assists and five goals.
Hutchinson vs. Southwest Christian/Richfield, Saturday, Jan. 15, 7 p.m. These teams are fighting for relevance in Class 1A, Section 2. Southwest Christian/Richfield is also close to breaking into the Class 1A top-10 rankings, while Hutchinson could break into the top 20 with a victory.
Edina vs. St. Thomas Academy, Friday, Jan 14, 7 p.m. This is a top-10 matchup in Class 2A. St. Thomas Academy defeated Edina at the Prior Lake Invitational earlier this season, so Edina will be looking for revenge.
The MN Hockey Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.