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With nine first-place votes and the only perfect record in the top-20 in Class 2A, Stillwater is your new No. 1 in the state high school coaches’ poll.
The Ponies (7-0) earned the top spot after taking down East Ridge and Park of Cottage Grove by a combined score of 19-6 last week. Although the 5-3 win over Lakeville South on Dec. 7 is Stillwater’s lone victory over a currently-ranked team, the offense has averaged 5.86 goals per game this season, the fifth highest margin in the state.
The Ponies have eight-straight road games coming up to prove they belong at the top, including a Dec. 30 matchup against No. 2 Elk River. The Elks (7-1) knocked off previous No. 1 Eden Prairie by a score of 3-2 on Thursday, but fell to No. 7-2A Edina 5-0 the next night.
Grand Rapids checks in at No. 3 after finishing Edina’s Holiday Classic with a 2-1 record. The Thunderhawks boast several of the top scorers in the state in Blake McLaughlin (11 goals, 12 assists), Micah Miller (7, 15) and Gavin Hain (9, 11). If Grand Rapids is going to stay in the top-five, it will need continued production from these players, who constitute 67.5% of the team’s scoring.
After going 1-2 at the Edina Holiday Classic last weekend, Eden Prairie is out of the top-spot for the first time this season. The Eagles fell to fourth, although they still earned a pair of first-place votes in this week’s poll.
With undefeated weeks, both St. Thomas Academy (6-1) and Holy Family Catholic (7-1) stayed put at No. 5 and No. 6, respectively.
Centennial jumped up from tenth to eighth this week, after the Cougars (5-1) beat Blaine (RV) and No. 11 Duluth East by matching scores of 4-1.
Hill-Murray (5-0-1), the only other top-20 team besides Stillwater without a loss, made a similar jump, from 12 to 10, after tying Tartan 3-3 and topping North St. Paul 10-2.
Other notable movements this week include Wayzata (2-5), which fell from 14th to 17th after dropping a 5-3 game to No. 5 Holy Family Catholic, and Minnetonka (4-4), which dropped to 12th after a 1-2 week.
Delano/Rockford continues its reign atop the Class 1A Minnesota coaches’ poll, cruising to a pair of wins over Buffalo and Minneapolis last weekend to earn eight of 10 first-place votes. With Maine-commit Ben Meyers, who as a senior leads the state in scoring (14 goals, 19 assists), the Tigers’ offense is firing on all cylinders.
Additionally, fellow Tiger and Michigan Tech-commit Ben Halonen (10, 16), is not far behind in the state scoring totals.
Delano/Rockford has yet to meet its match offensively, but the Tigers are likely to meet defending champion No. 2 Hermantown next week, pending both teams’ victories in the opening round of the Hilltopper Classic.
In second with a pair of first-place votes, the Hawks (4-1-1) are back on track after taking down No. 12-2A Minnetonka and No. 18-1A New Prague last week in lopsided wins.
Senior goaltender Cade McEwen, is in the top-five for goalies with at least 250 minutes, compiling a 1.48 goals-against average and .941 save percentage through a tough schedule.
While the upper portion of the Class 1A rankings are poised for a shakeup with holiday tournaments on the docket, this week’s top-six remains unchanged.
St. Paul Academy (4-1) remains the No. 3 team after a 4-0 shutout over inter-city rival South St. Paul, where the Spartans outshot the opposition 56-16.
Without a loss from a team above them, St. Paul Academy can only go down, facing unranked teams until their Jan. 7 showdown against No. 4 Breck.
The Mustangs (4-3) have had a rough go so far, though not many teams whose faced five ranked opponents so far would come out of it unscathed. If Breck can figure out its defensive play and allow fewer than their current margin of 3.29 goals per game, they will stick in the top-10 down the stretch.
In the lower half of the top-10 it’s a northern invasion, with Greenway (7-1) moving from ninth to seventh, East Grand Forks (5-1-1) going from tenth to eighth, and Hibbing/Chisholm (5-2) jumping into the top ten at No. 9 after last week’s No. 13 ranking.
The Raiders can prove their worth this weekend, when facing Hibbing/Chisholm and No. 10 Alexandria this weekend. To do so, they’ll need continued production from senior forward Taylor Lantz, who averages 2.62 points per game.