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.
Top games are not always between conference rivals, section rivals and top-10 ranked teams. But that's what we have on Thursday, when Alexandria — ranked No. 7 in the Class 1A coaches' poll released Feb. 2, visits No. 6-1A Fergus Falls.
Fergus Falls begins the week atop Class 1A, Section 6 standings while is Alexandria second, but the Cardinals remain in contention for a Central Lakes Conference title, trailing league-leading Sartell-St. Stephen by five points with four conference games in the next to weeks.
These two teams played to a 5-2 Alexandria victory on Jan. 6. If Fergus Falls is to avenge the loss, Isaac Johnson and Michael DeBrito could be important pieces. These two lead Fergus Falls in points. Johnson has 44 (18 goals, 26 assists), and DeBrito has 43 (22 goals, 21 assists) for an offense that is the best in the conference at 4.7 goals per game.
Alexandria still needs to gain ground on Fergus Falls in the section despite the victory earlier in the year. The Cardinals are 8.6 points behind in the QRF, so a win could give them momentum heading into the final stage of the regular season. Brycen Berg leads the Cardinals with 17 goals.
Thursday’s game between these Suburban East Conference foes is Stillwater’s last chance to make waves in the conference standings. Cretin-Derham Hall is first in the conference with a 10-0-0 record while Stillwater is second with an 11-1-0 record. Cretin-Derham Hall defeated Stillwater 5-1 on Jan. 11.
But if Stillwater is to win, it will have to stop one of the hottest teams in the state. Cretin-Derham Hall is on a 12-game winning streak and could be on a 13-game winning streak if it defeats Park of Cottage Grove on Tuesday. The Raiders recently jumped into the No. 1 spot in the Class 2A coaches’ poll. They are led by their offense. Cretin-Derham Hall is averaging six goals per game this season, and Drew Fisher has the most on the team with 22, according to stats entered in MN Hockey Hubs.
Stillwater goaltender Thomas Anderson is one of the most experienced in Class 2A this season. His 1,093 minutes played is second most in the class this season, and he’s allowed 2.43 goals per game and owns a .911 save percentage. He’ll need to be at his best if Stillwater is to beat Cretin-Derham Hall.
If Cretin-Derham Hall is one of the hottest teams in the state, then Benilde-St. Margaret’s is right there with the Raiders. The Red Knights have won 14 in a row since losing to Cretin-Derham Hall 5-3 on Dec. 16. One of the closest games in that run was against Chaska. The Red Knights won 3-2 in overtime on Jan. 11.
Chaska is still looking up at Benilde-St. Margaret’s in the Metro West Conference standings. The No. 19-2A Hawks are 10-1-0 in conference play while the No. 3-2A Red Knights are 5-0. Sam Scheetz leads the Hawks with 14 goals, and goaltender Kai Girard has a great .945 save percentage.
The Red Knights are scoring a prolific 5.2 goals per game. Adam Marshall leads the team with 17 goals, and Benilde-St. Margaret’s scored a combined 27 goals in its last two games.
Cambridge-Isanti vs. Chisago Lakes, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 7 p.m. The winner of this game takes the top spot in the Mississippi 8 Conference standings. No. 16-1A Cambridge-Isanti will need to stop a quality Chisago Lakes that is ranked No. 13 in Class 1A and boasts an offense scoring 5.6 goals per game.
Andover vs. Grand Rapids, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 7 p.m. Both No. 12-ranked Grand Rapids and No. 4 Andover are undefeated in Class 2A, Section 7, so this will be an opportunity to size each other up before the section tournament.
The MN Hockey Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.