Nick Leddy was a do-it-all defenseman for Class AA champion Eden Prairie last season: rock steady in his own zone and an unstoppable skating, stickhandling and shooting force when the play transitioned out of the Eagles' zone.
Joe Rehkamp and Reid Herd ---- fast, fearless and relentless ---- epitomized Breck's Class A championship team last season. It was only fitting that the duo scored a shorthanded goal that all but clinched the Mustangs' title game triumph over Warroad.
Leddy, Rehkamp and Herd all were seniors. There's no denying their departures leave gaping holes in their team's respective lineups.
Still, as a testament to how loaded with talent Eden Prairie and Breck were last season, both teams earned the preseason No. 1 spot in a poll that included input from coaches and media members from around the state.
In Class AA, Eden Prairie edged Minnetonka in voting that made a clear distinction between those teams and No. 3 Bloomington Jefferson. After that, there was no consensus other than Benilde-St. Margaret's and Blaine both deserving spots in the mid- to upper-portion of the top 10.
In Class A, Breck and St. Thomas were the clear No. 1 and 2 choices, with Warroad coming in a distant third.
Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub managing editor, can be reached at 612-379-1030 ext. 126 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|1.||Eden Prairie||Defending champions lost a great one in defenseman Nick Leddy but remain loaded at all positions. Kyle Rau, built in the mold of former Cloquet great Cory Millen, ranks among state's best forwards.|
|2.||Minnetonka||Skippers have an abundance of high-level talent: four players (Troy Hesketh, Travis Holl, Andrew Prochno and Max Gardiner) have committed to Division I programs.|
|3.||Bloomington Jefferson||Jaguars might have the best forward-defenseman duo in the state in Caleb Herbert and Joe Faust.|
|4||Blaine||Sniper Nick Bjugstad and goaltender Danny Harper are the stars on a gritty Bengals team.|
|5.||Benilde-St. Margaret's||Forward Christian Horn is one of the state's best sophomores and Jacob Meyers should be included in any discussion about the state's top goaltenders.|
|6.||Hill-Murray||A year older, wiser after reaching the state tournament last season with a young but talented group.|
|7.||Holy Angels||Reilly brothers give the Stars three of the state's top players.|
|8.||Centennial||Brett Stern and Charlie Aus form the nucleus of a solid defensive corps.|
|9.||Edina||Powerhouse program seemingly never has a down year.|
|10.||Woodbury||Power forward Max Gaede surrounded by group of talented seniors.|
|1.||Breck||Defending champions lost just two seniors from team that was the deepest and most balanced in the state last season.|
|2.||St. Thomas||Forward threesome of Christian Isackson, Justin Crandall and Zach Schroeder is as good as any in the state.|
|3.||Warroad||Brock Nelson and wingman Brett Hebel have been scoring goals in bunches for years; Warriors need to find go-to goaltender.|
|4.||Hermantown||Adam Krause is a dominant player on one of northern Minnesota's best lineups.|
|5||Mahtomedi||Defenseman Ben Marshall's end-to-end rushes provide boost to already high-scoring offense.|
|6.||St. Cloud Cathedral||Defenseman Nate Schmidt is playing in the USHL but the Crusaders return two dynamite forwards in Alex Koopmeiners and Jordan Palusky. Goaltender Nick Maiers is among the state's best.|
|7.||Virginia||Junior forward Garrett Hendrickson and senior defenseman Jordan Kresbach make the Blue Devils the team to beat on the Iron Range.|
|8.||South St. Paul||Goaltender Alex Wilcox has the ability to singelhandedly steal games for the Packers.|
|9.||Thief River Falls||Speaking of great goaltenders, the Prowlers' Zane Gothberg is so good he makes the spectacular look routine.|
|10. (tie)||Blake||Solid program has the foundation of a rock-solid defense in goaltender Evan Oncay and defenseman Ryan Bullock|
|10. (tie)||Duluth Marshall||Another traditionally strong program coming off a relatively down (15-11-1) season.|