Minnesota Boys Hockey Tournament: Top four Class 2A teams set to battle it out

Duluth East will face St. Michael-Albertville in a Class 2A quarterfinal Thursday at 1 p.m. Howie / HowieHanson.com

The 2017 edition of the Class AA State Boys’ High School Hockey Tournament features arguably the top four teams all season in top-ranked Minnetonka, preseason favorite Edina, Northern Minnesota power Duluth East and perennial contender St. Thomas Academy. Looking to pull off upsets are Centennial, St. Michael-Albertville, Lakeville North and Hill-Murray.

Minnetonka, in St. Paul for the first time since 2010, went 4-2-2 this season vs. teams in the Class AA state tournament. The Skippers were 2-1 vs. Edina, but were outscored 13-12 by the Hornets in the three meetings. In search of its record 10th state title, Edina posted a 4-2-0 record vs. state tournament teams with the lone losses coming to ‘Tonka. Duluth East was a perfect 3-0 vs. state tournament teams this season and looks to win its first state title since 1998. St. Thomas Academy went 3-1-1 vs. state tournament teams and returns to St. Paul in search of its first Class AA title after winning five championships in Class A.

Six of the eight teams come to St. Paul with previous state titles – Edina (9), St. Thomas Academy (5), Duluth East (3), Hill-Murray (3), Centennial (1) and Lakeville North (1). Edina leads the way with 31 prior state tournament appearances, followed by Hill-Murray (28) and Duluth East (22).

Following is a look at the eight teams in the Class AA state tournament.

Centennial Cougars
Record: 19-6-3
Coach: Ritch Menne
Last state appearance: 2014
Best state finish: First (2004)
Road to state (Section 5AA wins): Coon Rapids 9-0, Anoka 4-0, Maple Grove 6-4
Leading scorers: Lucas McGregor (20-40–68), Hayden Brickner (22-26–48), Carter Wagner (18-29–47), Jack Menne (21-22–43)
Goaltender: Travis Allen (12-5-2, 2.07, .906)

Notes: Centennial is making its fourth state tournament appearance • the Cougars are riding a season-long eight-game winning streak • losses on the season came to Duluth East, Andover (2), Moorhead and Edina • Centennial outscored its opponents 19-4 in the section playoffs and 127-63 on the season • the Cougars are 4-2-1 in neutral site games this season • Centennial has scored 10 shorthanded goals • the Cougars have scored five or more goals in 15 games • McGregor is a Mr. Hockey finalist.

Duluth East Greyhounds
Record: 23-2-3
Coach: Mike Randolph
Last state appearance: 2015
Best state finish: First (1960, 95, 98)
Road to state (Section 7AA wins): Grand Rapids 6-0, Duluth Marshall 9-1, Andover 3-2 OT
Leading scorers: Garrett Worth (42-22–64), Ryder Donovan (14-44–58), Ian Mageau (17-35–52), Luke LaMaster (4-39–43), Ricky Lyle (19-15–34)
Goaltender: Parker Kleive (16-1-2, 1.43, .913)

Notes: Duluth East is making its 23rd state tournament appearance • losses on the season came to Eden Prairie and Cloquet-Esko-Carlton • the Hounds have scored five or more goals in 14 games  and have allowed two or fewer goals in 20 games • East is 2-0 in neutral site games and 3-1 in one-goal games • Worth and Donovan ranked second in the state in regular season goals and assists, respectively • LaMaster and Worth are Mr. Hockey finalists • LaMaster is the winner of the Reed Larson Award • college commitments: Donovan (North Dakota), LaMaster (Wisconsin).

Edina Hornets
Record: 26-2-0
Coach: Curt Giles
Last state appearance: 2015
Best state finish: First (1969, 71, 82, 84, 88, 97, 2010, 13, 14)
Road to state (Section 6AA wins): Armstrong/Cooper 5-1, St. Louis Park 6-1, Wayzata 8-1
Leading scorers: Sammy Walker (32-36–68), Mason Nevers (22-38–60), Jett Jungels (27-29–56), Demetrios Koumontzis (22-23–45), Ben Brinkman (11-33–44), Lewis Crosby (19-18–37)
Goaltender: Garrett Mackay (22-2-0, 1.79, .915)

Notes: Edina is making its 32nd state tournament appearance • the Hornets are 56-32 all-time at the state tournament • lone losses on the season came to Minnetonka • Edina has scored five or more goals in 21 games and allowed two or fewer goals in 21 games • the Hornets are outscoring their opponents 165-45 • Walker and Koumontzis are Mr. Hockey finalists • college commitments: Jake Boltman, Brinkman and Walker (Minnesota), Jungels (Northern Michigan), Koumontzis (Arizona State), Mike Vorlicky (Wisconsin).

Hill-Murray Pioneers
Record: 16-10-2
Coach: Bill Lechner
Last state appearance: 2017
Best state finish: First (1983, 91, 2008)
Road to state (Section 4AA wins): Irondale/St. Anthony 4-2, Stillwater 3-1, White Bear Lake 3-1
Leading scorers: Ben Helgeson (19-16–35), Michael Fleischhacker (18-11–29), Brett Oberle (5-20–25), Troy Tischler (7-10–17)
Goaltender: Remington Keopple (11-10-3, 2.59, .896)

Notes: The Pioneers are making their 29th state tournament appearance • Hill-Murray is on a season-long four-game winning streak • the Pioneers have allowed two or fewer goals in 14 games and have scored four or more goals in 10 games • Hill-Murray is 0-1-2 in neutral site games and 0-4-1 vs. the Class AA tournament field • Hill-Murray owns a 27-percent power play this season  • college commitments: Helgeson (Wisconsin), Oberle (Minnesota Duluth).

Lakeville North Panthers
Record: 16-10-2
Coach: Trent Eigner
Last state appearance: 2015
Best state finish: First (2015)
Road to state (Section 1AA wins): Hastings 6-2, Owatonna 6-0, Lakeville South 4-3
Leading scorers: Spencer Schneider (25-20–45), Blake Brandt (13-25–38), Shane Griffin (19-19–38), Garrett Daly (6-21–27)
Goaltenders: Will Johnson (10-3-1, 1.72, .925), Caleb Mayer (6-7-1, 2.65, .896)

Notes: The Panthers are making their seventh appearance at the state tournament • Lakeville North is 7-1-1 in its last nine games • the Panthers are 3-2-1 in neutral site games and are 0-2-1 vs. Class AA state tournament teams • the top line of Schneider-Brandt-Griffin has accounted for 59 percent of the team’s goals • North has allowed two or fewer goals in 17 games • Daly was a Reed Larson Award nominee • college commitments: Daly (Bowling Green).

Minnetonka Skippers
Record: 24-2-2
Coach: Sean Goldsworthy
Last state appearance: 2010
Best state finish: Second (2010)
Road to state (Section 2AA wins): Shakopee 8-0, Chaska 4-1, Holy Family Catholic 5-4 2OT
Leading scorers: Jack Bayless (22-28–50), Bobby Brink (16-33–49), Joe Molenaar (29-8–37), Teddy Lagerback (19-18–37), Luke Loheit (14-18–32), Josh Luedtke (8-23–31)
Goaltender: Charlie Glockner (16-2-1, 2.53, .905)

Notes: Minnetonka is making its sixth state tournament appearance • the Skippers are 7-7 all-time at the state tournament • Tonka’s losses on the season came to Duluth East and Edina • the Skippers are currently on a 10-game winning streak • Tonka has scored five or more goals in 20 games and allowed two or fewer goals in 17 games • the Skippers are 5-0-2 in neutral site games • Loheit is a Mr. Hockey finalist • Andrew Hicks was a Reed Larson Awad nominee • college commitments: Brink (Denver), Loheit (Minnesota Duluth), Luedtke (Northern Michigan).

St. Michael-Albertville Knights
Record: 23-5-0
Coach: Jerremiah Johnson
Last state appearance: First appearance
Road to state (Section 8AA wins): Buffalo 5-3, Brainerd 4-2, Moorhead 6-5
Leading scorers: Adam Flammang (25-22–47), Luc Laylin (12-32–44), Blake Spetz (14-21–35), Caden Sigerud (10-21–31)
Goaltender: Justin Damon (22-5-0, 2.16, .907

Notes: The Knights are making their first state tournament appearance • STMA is riding a season-long 12-game winning streak • the Knights’ losses on the season came to Holy Family, Eden Prairie, Edina, Moorhead and Roseau – all before Jan. 27 • STMA is outscoring its opponents 135-59 • the Knights have scored five or more goals in 15 games and allowed two or fewer goals in 17 games, including eight shutouts • STMA is 2-0 in one-goal games and 2-2 at neutral sites • the Knights set a school record for wins this season.

St. Thomas Academy Cadets
Record: 25-2-1
Coach: Tom Vannelli/Greg Vannelli
Last state appearance: 2017
Best state finish: First (2006, 08, 11, 12, 13)
Road to state (Section 3AA wins): East Ridge 5-0, Burnsville 9-2, Eastview 4-1
Leading scorers: Ray Christy (15-43–58), Payton Matsui (28-30–58), Chase Foley (21-29–50), Rob Christy (16-19–35)
Goaltender: Atticus Kelly (21-1-1, 1.25, .941)

Notes: St. Thomas Academy is making its 11th state tournament appearance and third in Class AA •  losses on the season came to Minnetonka and Duluth Marshall • the Cadets 5-1-1 in neutral site games and 2-2 in one-goal games • STA has scored five or more goals in 17 games and has allowed two or fewer goals in 22 games, including six shutouts • the Cadets outscored their opponents 18-3 in the section playoffs • Foley was a Reed Larson Award nominee • Kelly is a Frank Brimsek Award finalist • college commitments: Ray & Rob Christy, Foley (Colorado College).

Source: StateofHockey.com

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