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.
Another week, another meeting between the one-two teams in the Class 2A rankings. While Minnetonka has been in the top spot before, and currently, according to the Class 2A coaches’ poll released Jan. 31, Edina moved up to season-high No. 2 ranking after being as low as No. 16. Minnetonka won the first meeting 4-0 between these Lake Conference rivals. Junior Gavin Garry scored twice for Minnetonka.
Winners of 10 straight, the Skippers (19-2) have allowed just 1.14 goals per game and could reach the 20-win mark before Saturday's game. Minnetonka hosts St. Lois Park on Thursday.
The Skippers have allowed the fewest total goals this season in state, surrendering just 24 goals. The second period has been the team's best, outscoring opponents 41-5 during the stretch, evidenced by a recent 4-2 victory at Wayzata when the team scored four goals in the second period.
Senior Liam Hupka (three goals, 17 assists) and junior John Stout (five goals, 15 assists) have the best offensive numbers on the Skipper blue line as they help the defensive effort in front of senior goaltender Kaizer Nelson (15-2) with his 1.17 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. Nelson made 17 saves in the first game against Edina for one of his five shutouts this season.
Since the loss to Minnetonka, the Hornets have won five consecutive games, including a win over then No. 2-2A Wayzata and a pair of 2-1 victories over Hill-Murray on back-to-back days over the weekend.
In the first game at Hill-Murray, points leader junior Jackson Nevers (15 goals, 10 assists) scored the game-winner with three minutes remaining in regulation. In the second game, junior John Halverson (five goals, nine assists) completed the comeback victory for Edina with the winner coming with just more than a minute left in regulation, a game in which the host Hornets outshot the Pioneers 45-39.
Freshman Mason West (six goals, 12 assists), senior Matt Vander Vort (seven goals, 11 assists) and junior Bobby Cowan (eight goals, 10 assists) are all tied behind Nevers with 18 points each. Cowan has a point in four of the last five games. The Hornets are 5-1 in one-goal games this season.
Two Class 1A, Section 5 teams meet once again, and they could face each other again deep in the section playoffs. Little Falls is 4-0 in its last four meetings with Cathedral.
Little Falls hosted Cathedral and took hom a 4-3 victory on Feb. 2, despite getting outshot 31-23. Cathedral had a 3-1 lead late in the second period, but Little Falls cut into the deficit with three seconds remaining in the middle period before tying the game early in the third and getting the game winner from senior Coltin Johnson (five goals, 21 assists). Junior Carter Oothoudt (22 goals, 15 assists) scored in the final minute in each of the first two periods for Little Falls.
No. 16-1A Little Falls is 13-8-1 this season but has won seven of its last eight games. Its last regulation loss was a 7-5 defeat against Duluth Denfeld on Jan. 13. Senior Matt Filippi (15 goals, 29 assists) leads the team in assists, with a team-high eight on the power play. He’s followed by Carter Oothoudt, who has a team-high 22 goals. Sophomores Joey Welinski (12 goals, five assists) and defenseman Luke Avery (nine goals, eight assists) each have 17 points tied for fourth on the team. Freshman Remi Chisholm recorded three assists – of his four assists on the season – in the first game against Little Falls. Senior Richie Varriano (5-6-1) and sophomore Izaak Kalis (8-2-0) split time in net.
No. 12-1A St. Cloud Cathedral has won four of its past six games. Junior Andrew Dwinnell had a pair of goals and an assist in the first meeting with Little Falls. Sophomore Joey Gillespie added goal and two assists and sophomore John Hirschfeld, with three assists, also had three-point games. Those three players are the top three scorers for Cathedral this season.
Hirschfeld (12 goals, 19 assists) and Gillespie (16 goals, 15 assists) are tied for the team points lead, while Dwinnell is right behind with 14 goals and 16 assists (a team-high eight on the power play). Junior Cole Hwang (10 goals, 13 assists) is the fourth player with 20-plus points, followed by junior Ben Petroske (four goals, 16 assists). Ten players have at least one power-play goal, which the team converts 31.3% of the time.
The Huskies, who surged from No. 8 to No. 4 in the latest Class 2A rankings, will look to return the favor to Maple Grove with a road victory in their second-to-last regular-season game of the season. The Crimson, meanwhile, fell from No. 4 to No. 7 in the rankings.
Maple Grove has lost two of its last three games, including an overtime loss to No. 17-2A Centennial and another to section-rival No. 8-2A Rogers.
These two Northwest Suburban Conference rivals met in last year’s Class 2A state championship game, with Andover winning in overtime. Maple Grove is 0-2-1 in overtime games this season, while Andover is 1-0-1. The teams split the regular-season series last season, with the road team winning a game each. Both teams are scoring 5.23 goals per game.
Andover takes a nine-game winning streak into this week, which could be a 10-0 run by the time it faces Maple Grove. The last loss for the Huskies? A 4-1 defeat on Jan. 5 at home to… Maple Grove. The Crimson scored four unanswered goals in that game, two off senior Jay Ellingson’s stick.
Currently, only three players in Class 2A have 30-goal seasons, and two of them reside on Andover’s top line with Cooper Conway (30 goals, 31 assists) and Gavyn Thoreson (30 goals, 30 assists). Conway also leads Andover with eight power-play goals. The third part of their senior trio, Cayden Casey (14 goals), is second in Class 2A in assists (38).
Senior Beau Altman and sophomore Cal Conway make up the goaltending tandem for Andover. Altman is 10-3-1 with a 2.05 goals-against average and .922 save percentage, while Cal Conway (6-2), is coming off a 4-1 victory over Grand Rapids with a 1.50 goals-against average and .933 save percentage.
Senior Jack Roach sees the majority of minutes in goal for the Crimson. He’s 11-5-1 with a 2.25 goals-against average and .907 save percentage with four shutouts. One more point for senior co-captain Finn Brink (23 goals, 30 assists, 53 points) will put him into sole possession of sixth place in Maple Grove history for scoring in a single season, according to the team’s media guide. The Wisconsin commit has 10 points in his last four games; he scored a goal in the first game against Andover this season and had four goals and three assists in three games against Andover last season.
Senior Blake Steenerson (15 goals, 20 assists) broke a four-game goal drought with one of the tallies against Rogers in the last game; he registered two assists against Andover the first time.
Rochester Century vs. Rochester Mayo, 7:15 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 11. It's an intracity matchup in Rochester on Feb. 11. Mayo is at the top of the Big 9 Conference and is 15-4-2 this season, having won six of its past eight games. Century won the first head-to-head meeting, 5-1 on Jan. 25. Ethan Dennis and Cohen Ruskell each have 26 points to lead Mayo.
Providence Academy vs. Delano, 7:15 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 7. Both teams are out of the competitive Class 1A, Section 2, though they haven’t met in recent years. Providence Academy is ranked No. 18 in Class 1A, while Delano is ranked No. 10. Will Brown (14 goals, 14 assists) leads scoring for Delano, while Louie Wehmann (37 goals, 30 assists) is among state scoring leaders.
Woodbury vs. East Ridge, 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 9. Two Suburban East Conference and Class 2A, Section 4 teams with similar overall records meet for a city-rivalry game. East Ridge won the first meeting, 2-1 on Jan. 5, although Woodbury outshot East Ridge 40-18 in the game. Jack Tauscher scored the game-winner on the power play at 8:47 of the third period. Now, Woodbury (11-9-1) is looking to rebound after losing four of its past five games. East Ridge takes a 10-9-1 record into the week.
The MN Hockey Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.