Apple Valley, with its kiddie corps of standout sophomores, was the popular preseason sleeper pick to contend with Lake Conference heavyweights Eden Prairie and Bloomington Jefferson.
The along came Eagan, which merely went 11-0-1 in its first 12 games against state boys teams.
Now? Say hello to Burnsville. To say the Blaze are red-hot would not only be an obvious pun but also underselling a 10-game stretch in which they have lost just once – to No. 2-ranked Wayzata by a goal.
The Blaze’s stellar play of late has vaulted them into the top 10 of the Class AA rankings (they debut at No. 10) for the first time this season in a vote of coaches and media members from around the state.
Most recently, Burnsville put an 8-2 thumping on Eagan, making the Lake Conference race a four-way grab bag between the Blaze, Eagan, Eden Prairie and Bloomington Jefferson.
“We had some injuries, unfortunately,” Burnsville coach Janne Kivihalme said. “A couple of the starters have been out of the lineup for quite some time. We’ve had some players step up from the JV, so we’ve been happy with that.”
Forwards Alex Wroblewski and Alec Fisher both have missed a large chunk of the season with injuries, but the Blaze have been getting plenty of goal production from the trio of Charlie Mosey (14), Adam Smyth (13) and Jace Childs (12).
The defense, led by senior co-captain Luke Hendrickson has been steady, and Bohdi Engum might just be having the best season of all the great Lake Conference goaltenders (Eden Prairie’s Andrew Ford and Eagan’s Tommy Bodeker among them).
“Now we’ve just got to keep that rolling,” Kivihalme said. “Every night is tough in this conference.”
Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub managing editor, can be reached at 612-379-1030 ext. 126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Rank||Team||Record||Prev.||Last Week||This Week|
Skippers met their match in Wayzata, and the rematch between the teams (Feb. 18 in Minnetonka) should be a Classic Lake classic. Derek Frawley has taken over scoring lead with 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists). Five skippers have scored 13 or more goals.
|19-0-1||1||Beat Robbinsdale Armstrong 11-1; Tied No. 2 Wayzata 1-1||vs. Hopkins, Saturday, Feb. 6|
Trojans' long, steady climb to the top of the rankings is not quite complete. They'll get their chance to take over the No. 1 spot in rematch with Minnetonka, assuming they can traverse rugged schedule before then unscathed. Rotating goaltenders Andrew McIntyre and Alex Clayton have almost identical stat lines, including three shutouts each a save percentage at about .917.
|14-2-2||4||Beat Champlin Park 4-2; Tied No. 1 Minnetonka 1-1||at Hopkins, Thursday, Feb. 4; at No. 9 Edina, Saturday, Feb. 6|
Pioneers are hottest team in the state, as they've won their last 10 games, the last three by shutout. Speaking of shutouts, Tim Shaughnessy has six this season. Hill-Murray doesn't play the state's toughest schedule, but this week is a brutal one as they get two of the top four teams in Class A.
|17-1-1||3||Beat South St. Paul 5-0; Beat Simley 9-0||vs. No. 4 (Class A) Mahtomedi, Thursday, Feb. 4; vs. No. 1 (Class A) St. Thomas Academy, Saturday, Feb. 6|
|4|| Eden Prairie
Was Eagles' surprising overtime loss to Eagan a hiccup or something more troubling? Matchup against red-hot Burnsville comes at interesting point in both teams' schedules. Fast fact: Eagles' Kyle Rau has been held without a goal in just two games this season.
|15-3-0||2||Lost to No. 7 Eagan 4-3 in OT; Beat Chaska/ Chanhassen 10-0; Beat Lakeville North 7-2||at Burnsville, Thursday, Feb. 4; vs. Duluth East, Saturday, Feb. 6|
Bengals' unbeaten streak now at 10, an impressive run given the quality of opposition in the Northwest Suburban Conference. Warning: Do not take a penalty against Blaine. The Bengals' power play is clicking at a 39.29 percent success rate, a better percentage than even high-powered Minnetonka's.
|13-3-3||5||Beat Osseo 6-5; Beat Anoka 8-3||vs. Champlin Park, Thursday, Feb. 4; at Elk River, Saturday, Feb. 6|
|6|| Bloomington Jefferson
Jaguars are tied for third place in the Lake Conference standings but can make a big move with a win this week over Eagan. Jefferson has won its last three games by a combined score of 29-4.
|13-4-2||7||Beat Lakeville South 8-2; Beat Apple Valley 2-1 in OT||at No. 7 Eagan, Thursday, Feb. 4; at Moorhead, Saturday, Feb. 6|
Just when you thought the Wildcats might be the class of the Lake Conference, they go and lose -- big -- to Burnsville. Eagan has only two players (Michael Zajac and Ryan Lutz) in double digits in goal scoring and might be a year away from making title runs in the conference and section.
|15-3-1||9||Beat No. 4 Eden Prairie 4-3 in OT; Beat Lakeville North 3-1; Lost to Burnsville 8-2||vs. No. 7 Bloomington Jefferson, Thursday, Feb. 4; at Bloomington Kennedy, Saturday, Feb. 6|
Up-and-down Cougars would make great elevator operators. Lately, they have had the UP button punched, as they return to top 10 by virtue of their six-game unbeaten streak. Leading scorer Jordan Lovick is on six-game tear during which he has scored at least a goal in every game and has nine of his 13 for the season.
|11-5-2||Not ranked||Beat Coon Rapids 12-1; Beat Moorhead 6-2||vs. Anoka, Thursday, Feb. 4; vs. Maple Grove, Saturday, Feb. 6|
What's wrong with the Hornets? Hard to say, although Edina -- which hasn't won since Jan. 12 -- could benefit from more scoring punch, especially on a power play that is clicking at a low, low 16.39 percent success rate.
|12-5-2||6||Lost to Certin-Derham Hall 3-1; Tied Hopkins 3-3||vs. Robbinsdale Armstrong, Thursday, Feb. 4; vs. Wayzata, Saturday, Feb. 6|
Blaze won just two of their first nine games but since then they have been as good as anyone in the state. They are 8-1-1 in their last 10 and fast becoming serious contenders for the Lake Conference crown.
|10-6-3||Not ranked||Beat Apple Valley 3-1; Beat Eagan 8-2||vs. No. 4 Eden Prairie, Thursday, Feb. 4; at Chaska/Chanhassen Saturday, Feb. 6|
ALSO RECEIVING VOTES: Benilde-St. Margaret's, Elk River, Duluth East, Cretin-Derham Hall, Roseau, Holy Angels
|Rank||Team||Record||Prev.||Last Week||This Week|
|1|| St. Thomas Academy
Cadets' narrow win over North St. Paul a bit of a surprise. Zach Schroeder, with a team-high 18 goals, ranks among the top junior forwards in the state. Defensemen Taylor Fleming and Eric Schurhamer always a threat to score
|14-4-0||1||Beat Simley 7-1; Beat North St. Paul 4-3||at Totino-Grace, Thursday, Feb. 4; at No. 3 (Class AA) Hill-Murray, Saturday, Feb. 6|
Mustangs have outscored their opponents an incredible 47-4 in the first period. Their only loss to a state high school league team came against St. Thomas Academy, in overtime, way back on Dec 8. Have played, and defeated, numerous Class A top-10 teams and get another such opponent on Thursday in red-hot Rochester Lourdes.
|16-2-0||2||Beat No. 8 Blake 7-1; Beat Minnehaha Academy 7-2; Beat St. Paul Johnson 7-0||vs. No. 9 Rochester Lourdes, Thursday, Feb. 4; vs. Providence Academy, Saturday, Feb. 6|
Hawks are unbeaten against Class A competition, with two losses coming by a goal against AA teams Andover and Eden Prairie. Senior Adam Krause continues to make his case for being named Mr. Hockey; his 27 goals are 15 more than the No. 2 Hawks goal scorer, Charlie Comnick.
|17-2-0||3||Beat Proctor 7-3; Beat Bemidji 6-1||at Cloquet/Esko/Carlton, Thursday, Feb. 4; vs. Monticello, Saturday, Feb. 6|
Zephyrs have won nine of their last 10 but their level of competition gets cranked up several notches on Thursday against Hill-Murray. Charlie Adams has scored two goals -- no more, no less -- in five of Mahtomedi's last six games and has a team-best 25 for the season.
|15-4-0||4||Beat North St. Paul 5-4; Beat South St. Paul 7-4||at No. 3 (Class AA) Hill-Murray, Thursday, Feb. 4; vs. Spring Lake Park, Saturday, Feb. 6|
Starting goaltending duties, for the next few weeks, anyway, are in the hands of sophomore Andy Foster. He has taken over for Shawn Storey, who suffered a knee injury last week and probably won't play again until later in the month. High-scoring duo of Brock Nelson and Brett Hebel has been split, as they've played on different lines for the last four games.
|16-4-0||6||Beat Crookston 5-1; Beat Duluth Marshall 6-2; Beat Duluth Denfeld 5-1; Lost to Roseau 7-3||vs. East Grand Forks, Saturday, Feb. 6|
|6|| Thief River Falls
Prowlers suffered surprising OT loss to Marshall during trip to Duluth last weekend, but still have established themselves as the top seed in Section 8A ahead of Warroad.
|14-5-0||5||Beat East Grand Forks 6-4; Beat Duluth Denfeld 4-1; Lost to Duluth Marshall 3-2 in OT||vs. Crookston, Thursday, Feb. 4; vs. Lake of the Woods, Saturday, Feb. 6|
Points leader Garrett Hendrickson has a whopping eight assists in victory over Silver Bay last week, pushing his point total to 59 -- fifth highest in the state. Blue Devils are in strong position to win Iron Range Conference title.
|14-5-3||7||Beat Eveleth-Gilbert 6-0; Beat Silver Bay 19-0||at Sartell-St. Stephen, Saturday, Feb. 6|
Bears couldn't keep pace with with No. 2 Breck, but otherwise have had nice late-season run. Four Blake players (Ford Traff, Kasey Boyd, George Ordway and E.J. Faust) have 20 or more points.
|14-6-0||8 (tie)||Lost to No. 2 Breck 7-1; Beat St. Paul Academy 5-2; Beat St. Paul Como Park 6-2||at St. Paul Saints, Saturday, Feb. 6|
|9|| Rochester Lourdes
Big win over Faribault last week sets the Eagles up for a likely high seed in Section 1A. Toughest challenge of the season awaits, however, in Thursday road trip to Golden Valley to play Breck.
|12-5-2||10||Beat Mankato East 7-1; Lost to Mound-Westonka 2-0; Beat Faribault 6-3||at No. 2 Breck, Thursday, Feb. 4; vs. New Prague, Saturday, Feb. 6|
|10|| South St. Paul
Packers have been hovering around .500 for several weeks but still get the respect of voters due to tough schedule that includes strong lineup of Class AA teams. Of course, having Minnesota recruit Adam Wilcox in goal doesn't hurt, either.
|10-9-0||8 (tie)||Lost to No. 3 (Class AA) Hill-Murray 5-0; Lost to No. 4 Mahtomedi 7-4; Beat Prior Lake 4-3||at Henry Sibley, Thursday, Feb. 4; vs. Tartan, Saturday, Feb. 6|
ALSO RECEIVING VOTES: St. Cloud Cathedral, Totino-Grace, Sartell-St. Stephen, International Falls, Alexandria, Duluth Denfeld, Rogers, Hibbing/Chisholm