MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s a big weekend for Minnesota high school hockey as the state celebrates Hockey Day Minnesota.
In the past, games were played outside in the conditions like the players were at the park when they were kids. But because of this year’s lack of snow and overall mild winter, there isn’t enough suitable ice to make outdoor rinks safe for players.
Games have been moved inside, and it won’t take away from the action that will take place all day Saturday in the State of Hockey. We’ll preview two of the big match-ups in Hockey Day Minnesota, but there’s also a big girls basketball game in Minneapolis Friday night. There are a lot of big match-ups this weekend, and here are the four we’ll preview.
Girls Basketball: Hopkins (14-0) at DeLaSalle (12-2)
The No. 1 team in Class 4A, 14-0 Hopkins, travels to face DeLaSalle Friday night in non-conference action in Minneapolis. The Islanders are 12-2 and ranked No. 2 in Class 3A. They’ve also won nine straight.
The Royals are led by Nia and Sydney Coffey, the daughters of former Gophers star Richard Coffey. The pair have combined to average 27 points per game as Hopkins has yet to lose this season. The Islanders have four players who average double figures, led by Tyseanna Johnson’s 15.8 points per game. Mariah Adanene scores more than 14 a game, Allina Star scores about 14 per game and Mia Lloyd averages more than 12 points per game.
DeLaSalle also won last year’s 3A state crown. It should be a great battle that goes down to the wire. I’ll take the Islanders to pull the upset.
Boys Basketball: Benilde-St. Margaret’s (12-1) at Totino-Grace (7-5)
Arguably the best boys basketball team in the state travels to Fridley Friday night as Benilde-St. Margaret’s, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, faces Totino-Grace in North Suburban Conference action. The Red Knights, who have four players that average double figures in scoring, are led by Sanjay Lumpkin (19.8 points per game) and Isaiah Zierden (19.2 points per game). Sam Meyer and Nick Carr pace the Eagles, averaging a combined 29 points per game. Andy Moritko also averages more than 13 points per game. Totino-Grace will give them a test, but Benilde should pull away late for the win.
Boys Hockey: Duluth East (17-0) at Minnetonka (15-1)
Minnetonka, the No. 2-ranked team in Class 2A, will be out for blood Saturday in one of the featured games of Hockey Day Minnesota. The Skippers will host No. 1-ranked and undefeated Duluth East. The two teams met in the final of the Schwan Cup, which the Greyhounds dominated 6-2. The Skippers have won five straight since, and it’s their only loss of the season thus far. They’re led by Vinni Litierri’s 43 points and 19 goals. Litierri, a Gopher recruit, is a grandson of Lou Nanne. Jake Randolph leads Duluth East with 46 points and 24 goals. It’ll be a much closer game this time around, and I’ll give the Skippers the slight edge playing at home.
Boys Hockey: St. Thomas Academy (10-3) at Breck (12-1)
St. Thomas Academy travels to Golden Valley Saturday to face Breck as two of the top three teams in Class A will square off as part of Hockey Day Minnesota. The Cadets have a balanced scoring attack, led by Alex Johnson’s 22 points and 11 goals. Peter Krieger has 21 points, including a team-best 14 assists. The Mustangs are out-scoring their opponents by about a 7-2 margin this season and are led by Grant Opperman’s 37 points and 17 goals. Thomas Lindstrom and Wesley Iverson also each have 14 goals. It’ll be a great game, but Breck has too much firepower and has the edge.
Tune into High School Sports Rally at 10:20 p.m. Friday as Mike Max, Frank Vascellaro and John Lauritsen will have all of Friday night’s action covered. Our featured game of the week is Friday night girls basketball as No. 5-ranked Hill-Murray hosts No. 8-ranked Simley in a Classic Suburban Conference match-up.