There is nothing better than the postseason when it comes to high school sports. For many programs, it’s about proving the resume that was built over the course of the regular season.

For other teams who might have struggled in the guaranteed games, it’s a new opportunity to keep your season going. After all, it’s usually easier to win the big games when the expectation isn’t there and you have nothing to lose.

There is nothing quite like the experience of reaching a state tournament. That’s why having a great regular season and giving yourself the best opportunity in the playoffs is so crucial. And it’s now that time as girls high school hockey is in the playoff stage, with the other sports to follow.

This week, we feature two hockey playoff games and top match-ups in boys hockey and boys basketball.

Friday Girls Hockey: Hill-Murray (24-0-1) vs. Woodbury (3-21) (Roseville Ice Arena)

Anything is possible in the playoffs, and the No. 1-ranked team in Class AA is putting an undefeated season on the line Friday night in the Section 4AA tournament. Hill-Murray faces Woodbury at Roseville Arena. The Pioneers are aiming to defend a state championship, while the Royals are looking to pull what would be a huge upset. It’s our Featured Game for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.

Hill-Murray hasn’t lost a game all year. Its only blemish, if you want to call it that, is a 2-2 tie to Blake in the South St. Paul holiday tournament. The Pioneers can score goals, and they enter the playoffs having outscored teams by a combined 30-5 over their last five games. They’re led by Abigail Boreen’s 45 points in the regular season, which included 13 goals. Jac Kaasa leads Hill-Murray with 29 goals.

Woodbury comes in hoping to spring the upset. Despite a 3-21 regular season, two of those wins came in the final three games for the Royals. The ended their regular season knocking off Rosemount 7-4. But Woodbury started the season 0-13 and had lost 20 of 21 games at one point. The Royals are led by Livia Twohig’s 25 points in the regular season, including a team-best 18 goals.

The winner moves onto the Section 4AA semifinals against either Roseville or Stillwater.

Friday Girls Hockey: Roseville (12-13) vs. Stillwater (8-15-2) (Roseville Ice Arena)

There is another intriguing match-up in that Section 4AA bracket Friday night as Roseville faces Stillwater at Roseville Ice Arena. The Raiders snapped a three-game losing streak with a 2-1 overtime win over East Ridge to end the regular season.  They’re led by Allyson Reilly’s 37 points in the regular season, including a team-best 24 goals. The Ponies ended their own four-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over Forest Lake to end the regular season. Roseville swept the season series against Stillwater with 4-3 and 3-1 victories, but it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season and there is a lot more on the line in the playoffs.

Friday Boys Basketball: Maple Grove (17-3) at Champlin Park (16-3)

It was supposed to be played Tuesday night, but Mother Nature had other ideas and a blizzard canceled many games. It’s a match-up of top-five teams and two of the top teams in the Northwest Suburban Conference as No. 4-ranked Maple Grove hosts No. 5 Champlin Park. The Crimson had won five straight games before losing to Centennial last Friday. They’re led by Brad Davison’s 20.4 points per game. He’s one of four players to average double figures  in scoring. The Rebels have won four straight games since a non-conference loss. They’re led by guard McKinley Wright’s 19.6 points per game and Theo John’s 14 points.

Saturday Boys Hockey: Benilde-St. Margaret’s (20-0-1) at Eden Prairie (15-5-1)

It’s pretty rare when two top teams meet during the regular season, but it’s the case Saturday night in boys hockey. No. 2-ranked Eden Prairie hosts No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Benilde-St. Margaret’s. The Red Knights’ only blemish on the regular season is a 4-4 overtime tie with Lakeville North. They are led by Cade Gleekel’s 54 points in the regular season, including a team-best 20 goals. The Eagles are looking to snap a two-game losing streak. They are led by Casey Mittelstadt’s 49 points, including a team-best 19 goals. When the two teams met earlier this year, Benilde-St. Margaret’s came away with a 6-5 overtime victory.

Tune into WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally at about 10:20 p.m. Friday as Mike Max, Frank Vascellaro and David McCoy will have all the action covered.

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