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.
The first meeting between Maple Grove and Rogers earlier this season, two teams out of the Northwest Suburban Conference and Class 2A, Section 5, resulted in 41 total penalty minutes.
There were also two misconducts and three game ejections, a marker for the intensity on display when theses two rivals suit up against one another, like they will again this week.
Maple Grove, ranked No. 4 in Class 2A in the coaches’ poll released Jan. 24, and No. 7-2A Rogers skated to a 3-3 tie in that game, complete with a full house and playoff-hockey atmosphere for a mid-January matchup.
Maple Grove (10-2-1), which stands atop the conference standings, with Rogers (9-0-1) right on its heals in second, has a successful power play this season (23-for-53, 43.4%).
Seniors Blake Steenerson and Jack Kernan each have five goals on the power play for Maple Grove. Team points leader senior Finn Brink (21 goals, 26 assists) has a team-high 12 assists on the power play, a mark tied with four others for second best in the state. Brink also has four of his goals on the power play, as does junior Lucas Busch (10 goals, 19 assists). Senior Lucas Margenau is the team’s top scorer on the blue line with eight goals and 21 assists, plus he has 10 power-play assists.
Despite the success on the man advantage, Maple Grove was relatively held in check by Rogers in their first meeting this season, going just 1-for-5 on the power play.
Rogers hasn’t lost (6-0-1) since a one-goal defeat to Edina during a holiday tournament. The squad is 84.3% on the penalty kill, allowing eight goals on an opponent’s power play this season. Senior Sam Ranallo leads in all three offensive statistical categories with 18 goals and 21 assists for 39 points, followed by sophomore Mason Jenson (13 goals, 17 assists). Senior Chase Cheslock (three goals, 16 assists) is the top presence at the blue line.
A pre-holiday blizzard wiped out this matchup between two of the best in Class 1A. These teams have been ranked No. 2 (Hermantown) and No. 3 (Orono) in the Class 1A coaches’ poll every week since Dec. 15.
On paper, the team stats indicate this should be an even contest. Both teams only have two losses each on the season. Hermantown’s power play is scoring 26.4% of the time, while Orono’s mark is 27.7%.
Hermantown (15-2-1) comes back to the metro fresh off a Hockey Day Minnesota victory over No. 4-1A Mahtomedi in White Bear Lake. The Hawks score 5.06 goals per game while allowing 1.61. They’re 3-0 in one-goal games and 0-0-1 in overtime. Senior Kade Kohanski missed time this season with a wrist injury, but he returned brace-free to score a hat trick on Hockey Day.
Brothers junior Joshua Kauppinen (13 goals, three assists) and senior Matthew Kauppinen (two goals, 15 assists) skate on a line together, which also accounted for multiple goals on Hockey Day. Joshua leads the Hawks in goals and Matthew is third in assists. Senior George Peterson (eight goals, 19 assists) and junior Dallas Vieau (11 goals, 16 assists) top the scoring list for a deep Hermantown team.
Orono has won six straight games and eight of its last nine before a Tuesday matchup hosting St. Louis Park. The Spartans are 7-0 in one-goal games this season, including 2-0 in overtime. In goal, senior Brock Peyton came back from injury in late December and is 9-1 with a 1.80 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.
The Spartans roll three successful lines, starting with top-line center senior Bradley Walker (14 goals, 16 assists), with junior Cayden Effertz (11 goals, 11 assists) on the left wing. Avery Anderson (11 goals, 21 assists) is a winger on the second line who leads the team in assists, points and power-play goals (five). John Engebretson (three goals, 17 assists) and Joey Mugaas (two goals, 18 assists) contribute offensively as a top defensive pair.
These Lake Conference rivals meet for the second time this season. Wayzata defeated Minnetonka 3-1 on Jan. 7, when Wayzata was the top-ranked team over a No. 2-2A Minnetonka. Now, the rankings are reversed, with Minnetonka holding the top spot for the first time since the Dec. 7 coaches’ poll was released.
In the first game, both teams went 0-for-4 on the power play, and the Skippers outshot the Trojans 45-22. Wayzata held a 2-0 lead through two periods before Minnetonka scored 19 seconds into the third period.
That loss was one of only two on the season for Minnetonka, the other coming at Chanhassen in early December. The Skippers have won eight straight since the loss to Wayzata, and are allowing just 1.16 goals per game behind senior Kaizer Nelson (13-2-0, 1.19 goals-against average, .930 save percentage).
Senior Liam Hupka (three goals, 14 assists) and junior John Stout (four goals, 12 assists) are the top scorers on the Minnetonka blue line. Junior Hagen Burrows (15 goals, 16 assists) and junior Gavin Garry (13 goals, 16 assists) lead the stats sheet. Junior Sam Scheetz (eight goals, 11 assists) scored in the first game against Wayzata.
The Trojans have dropped three of its last four games, losing to No. 1-1A Warroad, No. 5-2A Edina and Buffalo. Prior to that stretch, Wayzata (13-4-2) had won eight of its last nine games.
Senior goaltender Will Ingemann made a season-high 44 saves in the first game against Minnetonka. His goals-against average (1.41) and save percentage (.942) numbers rank him in the top five in the state. Their offensive effort is led by a freshman, Jacob Kvasnicka (eight goals, 22 assists), who’s been held without a point only three games this season. Juniors Rhys Wallin and Jake Mattson each have nine goals with 15 assists for Wallin and 13 helpers for Mattson.
Minneapolis vs. Delano, 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 4. No. 15-1A Minneapolis vs. No. 11-1A Delano in a battle of Class 1A, Section 2 teams. Minneapolis struggled to get victories early this season, but now is unbeaten in its past seven games (6-0-1), with five shutouts in that span. Delano has won three of its last five games. Last year, Minneapolis defeated Delano in the regular season and also in the section title game.
Warroad vs. East Grand Forks, 6 p.m., Monday, Feb. 6. In a rare occurrence, these Class 1A, Section 8 teams will play on back-to-back nights. First at East Grand Forks, then at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 7. Top-ranked Warroad is having the best season in the state, still taking an undefeated record into this week (18-0). No. 5-1A East Grand Forks is on a seven-game winning streak headed into this week.
Cretin-Derham Hall vs. White Bear Lake, 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 4. No. 9-2A White Bear Lake and No. 6-2A Cretin-Derham Hall sit atop the Suburban East Conference standings. The Bears have won nine of their last 11 games, but lost their last two to Chanhassen and an overtime heartbreaker to Hill-Murray on Hockey Day Minnesota. They’ll also meet at Cretin on Feb. 14.
The MN Hockey Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.