We’re in the middle of a January thaw, and things are continuing to heat up at gyms and hockey arenas across Minnesota.

Teams are in the thick of their conference seasons, and every game gets a little more important as we wrap up January. Some teams are pursuing conference championships, while others are hoping to stay afloat and do just enough to earn at least one home playoff game.

Home court or home ice advantage can mean everything in the playoffs, but you have to do the work to earn that right during the regular season.

This week, there are plenty of great match-ups on the hardwood and on the ice. Here are four of the top games this weekend.

Friday Girls Hockey: Blake (18-2-1) at Edina (20-0-1)

Two of the best girls hockey teams in the state face off Friday night in the west Twin Cities metro for one of the best non-conference games of the winter. Edina, ranked No. 1 in Class AA, hosts Breck, the No. 1-ranked team in Class A, at Braemar Ice Arena. The Hornets were a state semifinalist last year, and the Bears won the Class A title last year. It’s our Featured Game for WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally.

The Hornets are unbeaten on the season and their only blemish, if you want to call it that, was a 3-3 overtime tie with Breck at its own Edina Tournament. They’ve won eight straight since and in that stretch have allowed a total of three goals. That stretch includes five shutouts. Edina is loaded with talent, and the team is led by Lolita Fidler and Emily Oden, who each have 16 goals on the season. Anna Klein leads the Hornets with 32 points, including 21 assists. Edina is averaging 4.6 goals per game.

Blake is on its own hot streak, with 10 straight wins since a loss to Eden Prairie just before Christmas. The Bears have allowed only seven goals over the win streak, including four shutouts. The Bears also average more than four goals per game and are led by Lucy Burton’s 17 goals. Izzy Daniel leads the team in points with 32, including 20 assists.

It should be a great match-up with plenty of skill and scoring on the ice most of the night.

Friday Boys Basketball: Chaska (9-5) at Chanhassen (6-9)

Neither are ranked in the top-10, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a big event when these two Metro West Conference rivals meet. Chanhassen hosts Chaska Friday night, with both teams in the thick of the conference race. The Hawks enter the contest on a bit of a roll, having won six of their last eight games. They bounced back from a tough loss to Bloomington Jefferson with a win over Benilde-St. Margaret’s on Tuesday. Chaska is led by Myles Hanson’s 24.5 points per game and Cole Nicholson adds 13.

Chanhassen has had a tough winter at 6-9 and had a three-game win streak snapped Tuesday with an overtime loss against Robbinsdale Cooper. The Storm will be ready to face their biggest rival, and they’re led by Trey Prince’s 17.5 points per game.

Saturday Boys Basketball: Edina (9-4) at Bloomington Jefferson (10-3)

It should be a great match-up Saturday afternoon in the south Twin Cities metro as Bloomington Jefferson hosts Edina in non-conference action. The Hornets are looking to bounce back from losses at Minnetonka and Woodbury after winning five straight. They’re led by Walt McGrory, who just became the program’s all-time leading scorer and is averaging 27.5 points per game. The Jaguars lead the Metro West Conference at 3-0 and are led by Tyler Riermersma’s 16 points per game.

Saturday Boys Hockey: Blake (9-8) at Rochester Lourdes (7-7)

Two teams meet Saturday in southern Minnesota that are traditional state tournament contenders, but both are struggling this season by their standards. Rochester Lourdes hosts Blake in what should be a fun, high-flying game on the ice. The Bears are in desperate need of a win. They were 9-3 on the season, but have lost five straight since and were just handed a 7-1 loss by their rivals, Breck. They’re led by Sasha Shogren’s 24 points on the season, including a team-best 12 goals. The Eagles have had an up-and-down season, now on a two-game win streak after having lost three of their past four. They’re led by Montana Streit’s 20 points on the season, including a team-high 10 goals.

Extra – Friday Girls Basketball: Apple Valley (15-2) at Eastview (14-3)

There’s a huge match-up in girls basketball south of the Twin Cities Friday night with conference and playoff implications at stake as Eastview hosts Apple Valley. The Eagles are 15-2 on the season and ranked No. 4 in Class 4A. They’ve won 13 of their last 14 games after an early-season loss at Woodbury. They’re led by Lyndsey Robson’s 19.7 points per game and Brynne Roland’s 18. The Lightning have won four of its past five games and bounced back from a tough loss to Lakeville North with a 17-point win at Rosemount on Tuesday. Eastview is led by Rachel Ranke’s 15 points per game. It should be a great game between rivals with city bragging rights on the line.

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

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