MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – If you like high school hockey, the Xcel Energy Center is the place to be this week.
One of the great events every year in prep sports is the boys state hockey tournament. This year might be one of the best ever. Out of 16 teams in the field between two classes, 15 of them were the top seeds in their section bracket. The only team that wasn’t a No. 1 seed to advance was Benilde-St. Margaret’s, who beat No. 2-ranked Minnetonka 5-1 to earn a trip to state. The Red Knights were the No. 3 seed in the Section 6AA Playoffs.
In the Class A bracket, six of the eight teams are ranked in the top 10. It’s a field that includes undefeated and No. 1-ranked Hermantown. In Class AA, seven of the eight teams in the field are ranked in the top 10, and Lakeville South is 13th. That field is led by No. 1-ranked Duluth East, who is 23-1 on the season.
So what does it mean? We have two brackets in this year’s state tournament that are loaded with the best teams in Minnesota. No game will be easy, and that’s the way it should be.
State quarterfinals start Wednesday in Class A and Thursday in Class AA. If the top four seeds advance to Friday’s semifinals in Class A, Breck will face St. Thomas Academy and Hermantown will take on Thief River Falls.
Class AA, however, is a much more complicated beast. Maple Grove faces Hill-Murray in the first quarterfinal after scoring 15 on Blaine in its section final win. Eagan faces Moorhead and Duluth East takes on Lakeville South. In perhaps the best match-up of the quarterfinal round in either bracket, Edina takes on Benilde-St. Margaret’s.
If the seeded teams all advance, Eagan would face Maple Grove and Edina would take on Duluth East in the Friday semifinals. Hockey fans are salivating at these potential match-ups. This year’s state tournament will likely epitomize what high school hockey here is all about: Great teams facing each other with everything on the line.
The action should be fast-paced, intense and definitely dramatic.