Reporting Jeff Wald
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Being the “State of Hockey,” fans are gearing up for one of the most anticipated and exciting high school state tournaments that high school sports offers in Minnesota.
The Boys State Hockey Tournament starts Wednesday with Class A quarterfinals and Thursday with Class AA quarterfinals. Ranked teams often face each other during the regular season and in holiday tournaments, but this is that rare time when the best in the state face each other with everything on the line.
This is the time of year where players make a name for themselves with coaches, fans and even some agents watching. Seeds for the tournament were decided over the weekend after the section championship games were decided. In Class AA, the top five seeds are Hill-Murray, Duluth East, Edina, Wayzata and Centennial.
If the favorites advance, Duluth East would face Edina in one semifinal and Hill-Murray would get Wayzata in the other. If I had to choose, I would want to see Edina play Hill-Murray for the state championship. They’re two high-octane teams that can score in bunches and also feature great goaltending.
The Pioneers feature one of the state’s top players in Zach LaValle, who recorded 52 points in the regular season. It’s mark that includes 22 goals. Mitch Slattery led the team with 23 goals and also had 52 points in the regular season.
Edina is led by Connor Hurley and Dylan Malmquist as the Hornets feature a more balanced attack.
In Class A, the top five seeds are St. Thomas Academy, Breck, Hermantown, East Grand Forks and Rochester Lourdes. It sets up to be one of the best tournaments in recent memory with the Cadets returning as state champions. It’s their tournament to lose as they might be the best team in the state regardless of that class you’re talking about. They’re led by Tom Novak’s 47 points, including 25 goals.
Breck is another loaded team, led by Matt Colford’s 67 regular season points. It’s a mark that includes 30 goals. Thomas Lindstrom and Jack Connor are also key contributors for the Mustangs.
If the seedings hold, Breck would face Hermantown in the state semifinals and St. Thomas Academy would get East Grand Forks. Breck and St. Thomas Academy would play for the state title. Last year, St. Thomas Academy knocked off Hermantown in the state championship.
It’s also important to note that this is the last year in Class A for St. Thomas Academy. The Cadets are opting up to Class AA starting next year.
Here’s a look at the state quarterfinal schedule for both classes. If you’re a Minnesota high school hockey fan, you’ll want to get to Xcel Energy Center at some point this week to take in the action. It promises to be one of the more memorable tournaments in recent memory.
East Grand Forks (22-3-3) vs. Rochester Lourdes (20-8)
St. Thomas Academy (24-2-2) vs. St. Cloud Apollo (18-10)
Breck (24-3-1) vs. Marshall (14-10-1)
Hermantown (23-4-1) vs. Duluth Marshall (16-12)
Centennial (22-4-2) vs. Wayzata (21-7)
Duluth East (24-4) vs. Moorhead (14-11-2)
Edina (22-6) vs. Lakeville North (11-16-1)
Hill-Murray (25-2-1) vs. Eastview (18-9-1)