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Top games: Andover, Centennial face off in Northwest Suburban Conference clash

By Jack Butler, SportsEngine, 01/17/22, 3:30PM CST


Jan 22: The Huskies' dynamic duo faces the Cougars' stingy defense.

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.

*All stats as of Jan. 16.

Andover vs. Centennial

2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 22

This is a big game between two of Class 2A's top-ranked teams but also one that should help determine the Northwest Suburban Conference title.

Andover begins the week at No. 2 in the Class 2A coaches' poll released Jan. 12 and the Huskies sit atop the league standings with a 7-0-0 record.

When Andover scores, it's likely because Gavyn Thoreson or Cayden Casey found an open man for an assist. Thoreson has 25 assists and Casey has 24 assists, which is fourth and fifth most in Class 2A, respectively. Thoreson also leads the team in goals with 13. And the Huskies don’t necessarily need all those goals because goaltender Austin Brauns’ 1.56 goals-against average is the best in Class 2A for goalies who have played over 600 minutes, according to stats entered on MN Hockey Hub. 

Thoreson and Casey could have a difficult time breaking down the Centennial defense — one that has helped the Cougars claw their way to No. 9 in the Class 2A coaches' poll and a 6-1-0 conference mark, with a 3-2 loss to No. 7-2A Maple Grove on Dec. 11 as the only blemish. 

Centennial only allows 1.83 goals per game, and goaltender Jack Fuller has a quality .930 save percentage.

The Cougars also boast a three-headed monster on offense. Peyton Blair (12 goals, 19 assists), Harper Searles (14G, 17A) and Owen Van Tassel (15G, 16A) each have 31 points this season, which ranks the trio among the top 20 in the category in Class 2A.

Minnetonka vs. Eden Prairie

7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 22

Two teams looking to extend recent winning streaks meet when Minnetonka visits Lake Conference and Section 2 rival Eden Prairie on Saturday.

The No. 15-ranked Skippers had a rough go from Dec. 22 to Jan. 6, when the team went 0-3-1. But Minnetonka has turned around the run of bad results with a 4-1 victory over Wayzata on Jan. 8 and a 6-3 win at Buffalo five days later. A victory over Eden Prairie would keep the Skippers climbing in the Lake standings while possibly overtaking the Eagles in chase for the top seed in the section. 

Javon Moore (7 goals, 9 assists) is Minnetonka’s points leader with 16 points while Teddy Manlove has a team-best eight goals.  

Eden Prairie opened the season with a 2-3-0 mark, but the defending Class 2A champions have gone 5-1-0 since, with only a 5-2 loss at No. 1-1A Hermantown interrupting the Eagles' run. 

Jake Luloff (14 goals) and Ryan Andor (15 assists) lead No. 14 Eden Prairie, but Minnetonka will also have to account for Ryan Koering, a defender who has one goal and seven assists this season. Sinking the Skippers could keep the Eagles in contention for the Lake title, and maybe more importantly, for the No. 1 seed in the section tournament.

Minneapolis vs. Delano

7:15 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 18

Minneapolis travel to Delano in what is a must-see for fans of teams in Class 1A, Section 2.

Minneapolis maintains a lead (based on QRF) in the race for the section's top seed, but Delano is not far behind, and as the defending section champion, the Tigers have a tankful of motivation to run down their rival. 

Minneapolis has the talent to hold off Delano. Jack Hanson is setting up teammates left and right. He is top-25 in Class 1A in assists and fourth in the section with 17. He also has 10 goals, which puts him at sixth in the section in points (27). Minneapolis is led by goaltender Alex Lamont, who has a .913 save percentage and a 2.04 goals-against average, the best in Section 2.

Delano has rotated goaltenders this season, but whether it's Drew Dorsey or Tommy Houtari in goal, the Tigers have held held opponents to 2.6 goals per game. Will Brown leads the team with 12 goals.

Other games to keep an eye on

Red Lake Falls vs. Detroit Lakes, Friday, Jan. 21, 7 p.m. This is an important game if either team is to challenge No. 2-ranked Warroad in Class 1A, Section 8. Red Lake Falls is 7-0-0 in the section and 10-5-0 overall. Detroit Lakes is 5-2 in the section and 10-4-0 overall.

Duluth Denfeld vs. Warroad, Friday, Jan. 21, 7:30 p.m. Warroad lost its first game of the season on Saturday, falling 2-1 in overtime at No. 1-1A Hermantown. The Warriors must respond against the No. 5-1A Hunters, who are searching for a signature victory. 

Top Games poll

The MN Hockey Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.

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