2018 Minnesota Class 1A High School Boys Hockey State Tournament Preview

Minnesota’s top two Class A teams advanced to St. Paul, setting up a battle for the 2018 State Boys High School Hockey Championship.

Top-ranked Hermantown leads the field, looking to make its ninth straight appearance in the state title game and win its third straight crown. The Hawks will be challenged by perennial contender Mahtomedi, 20-game winner Orono and central Minnesota power Alexandria. Looking to pull off upsets are 2017 finalist Monticello, northern Minnesota power Thief River Falls and long-shots Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato and Mankato East/Loyola.

The Class A field includes only two teams with previous state titles – Hermantown and Thief River Falls. Four teams have made past appearances in the state championship game – Hermantown, TRF, Monticello and Orono. Hermantown leads the way with 14 prior state tournament appearances, followed by TRF with 13, Mahtomedi with nine and Orono with eight.

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

Alexandria Cardinals
Record: 17-10-1
Coach: Ian Resch
Last state appearance: 2011
Best state finish: Fifth (1996)
Road to state (Section 6A wins): Fergus Falls 6-2, Sartell-St. Stephen 4-0, St. Cloud Cathedral 3-2 2OT
Leading scorers: Jack Westlund (14-18–32), Caleb Strong (12-19–31), Ben Doherty (15-12–27), Jack Powell (8-17–25)
Goaltender: Jackson Boline (10-5-1, 2.10, .907)

Notes: The Cardinals are making their fifth state tournament appearance • since Jan. 5, Alexandria is 12-3 after opening the season with a 5-7-1 mark • the Cardinals have played in nine overtime games this season, going 7-1-1 • Alexandria has scored five or more goals in 10 games • the Cardinals have not had back-to-back losses since losing three in a row from Dec. 28-Jan. 4 • the top line of Westlund-Strong-Doherty has accounted for 41 percent of the team’s goals.

Hermantown Hawks
Record: 20-6-2
Coach: Patrick Andrews
Last state appearance: 2017
Best state finish: First (2007, 16, 17)
Road to state (Section 7A wins): North Shore 8-1, International Falls 6-0, Greenway 5-4 2OT
Leading scorers: Tyler Watkins (25-41–66), Blake Biondi (27-27–54), Jacob Herter (20-31–51), Darian Gotz (10-19–29), Elliott Peterson (12-15–27)

Goaltender: Cole Manahan (18-4-2, 2.17, .907)

Notes: The Hawks are making their 15th overall and ninth straight state tournament appearance • three of Hermantown’s losses came in the season’s first four games • all of the Hawks’ losses came to Class AA teams • Hermantown is 2-0 vs. Class A state tournament teams and 0-2 vs. Class AA state tournament teams • the Hawks have scored five or more goals in 13 games this season, including the last seven contests • Hermantown has allowed two or fewer goals in 16 games, including six shutouts • nine Hawks have double-digit point totals • Hermantown is 4-1-0 in neutral site games • the Hawks have scored 13 shorthanded goals and allowed just 12 power-play tallies • Andrews is in his first year as head coach • college commits: Biondi (Minnesota Duluth).

Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato Dragons
Record: 16-11-1
Coach: Chris Olson
Last state appearance: 2016
Best state finish: Fourth (2016)
Road to state (Section 3A wins): Windom 5-2, Marshall 4-2, Luverne 4-1
Leading scorers: Brandt Pedersen (27-17–44), Orrin Grangroth (14-12–26), Paul Raisanen (11-13–24), Dylan Schutz (8-15–23)
Goaltender: Darby Halonen (16-9-1, 3.01, .889)

Notes: Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato is making its fourth state tournament appearance • the Dragons outscored their opponents 13-5 in the section playoffs • LDC has scored four or more goals in 10 games and have allowed two or fewer goals in 12 games • the Dragons are 3-2-0 in neutral site games • LDC is 6-3 in one-goal games • Pedersen has accounted for 27 percent of the team’s goals this season.

Mahtomedi Zephyrs
Record: 21-6-1
Coach: Jeff Poeschl
Last state appearance: 2017
Best state finish: Third (1994, 2015)
Road to state (Section 4A wins): St. Paul Academy 5-0, Northfield 3-2 OT, Simley 6-3
Leading scorers: Charlie Bartholomew (15-16–31), Kory Pilarski (13-17–30), Nikolai Dulak (14-15–29), Tom Paradise (9-16–25)
Goaltender: Bailey Huber (13-4-1, 1.64, .939)

Notes: The Zephyrs are making their 10th state tournament appearance • Mahtomedi is on a season-long seven-game winning streak • the Zephyrs have allowed two or fewer goals in 19 games • Mahtomedi owns eight shutouts on the season • four of the Zephyrs’ six losses came to Class AA teams • Mahtomedi is 0-1 vs. Class A state tournament teams and 1-2-1 vs. Class AA  state tournament teams • when allowing more than two goals, Mahtomedi is 3-5-1 vs. 18-1-0 when allowing two or fewer • 13 Zephrys own double-digit point totals.

Mankato East/Loyola Cougars
Record: 16-10-2
Coach: Adam Fries
Last state appearance: 2006
Best state finish: Seventh (2006)
Road to state (Section 1A wins): Austin 2-0, Minnesota River 3-1, Rochester Lourdes (6-1)
Leading scorers: Sam Schulz (8-20–28), Jake Anderson (6-15–21), Matthew Salzle (14-7–21), Layten Liffrig (12-8–20)
Goaltender: Jack Cusey (13-10-2, 1.87, .931)

Notes: Mankato East/Loyola is making its second state tournament appearance • the Cougars are 10-4-1 since New Year’s • Mankato East has allowed two or fewer goals in 19 games, including four losses • the Cougars have scored four or more goals in nine games • Mankato East is 2-4 in neutral site games • 10 players have 10 or more points.

Monticello Moose
Record: 19-7-2
Coach: Eric Nelson
Last state appearance: 2017
Best state finish: Second (2017)
Road to state (Section 5A wins): Northern Lakes 8-0, Chisago Lakes 5-2, North Branch 4-1
Leading scorers: Troy Dahlheimer (21-24–45), Nick Foldesi (11-18–29), Jack Saunders (7-17–24), Jeffrey Henrikson (15-6–21), Jake Friede (7-12–19)
Goaltender: Tyler Klatt (16-6-1, 2.25, .906)

Notes: The Moose are making their second state tournament appearance • Monticello was 9-1-1 before New Year’s and is since 10-6-2 • the Moose outscored their opponents 17-3 in the section playoffs • Monticello has outscored its opponents 110-67 during the season • the Moose are 3-0-1 at neutral sites • Monticello is 0-2 vs. Class A state tournament teams this season • the Moose has scored four or more goals in 16 games and has allowed two or fewer goals in 19 games • Dahlheimer set team single season record for assists and points

Orono Spartans
Record: 20-7-1
Coach: Will Scholz
Last state appearance: 2014
Best state finish: Second (2004)
Road to state (Section 2A wins): Waconia 10-2, Minneapolis 6-3, Breck 2-1 OT
Leading scorers: Jack Suchy (19-37–56), Thomas Walker (18-22–40), Lucas Jorgenson (12-24–36), Dane Korsi (14-15–29), Zack Simon (13-15–28), Davey Burns (11-16–27)
Goaltender: Evan Babekuhl  (20-6-1, 2.08, .918)

Notes: Orono is making its ninth appearance in the state tournament • four of the Spartans’ losses on the season came to Class AA teams • Orono has scored five or more goals in 12 games • the Spartans have allowed two or  fewer goals in 16 games • Orono is 3-0-0 in neutral site games • the Spartans are 3-0 vs. Class A state tournament teams • six players have scored 20 or more points • the Spartans outscored their opponents 18-6 in the section playoffs and 116-62 during the season • Orono is currently on a season-high seven-game winning streak.

Thief River Falls Prowlers
Record: 16-10-2
Coach: Tim Bergland
Last state appearance: 2016
Best state finish: First (1954, 56)
Road to state (Section 8A wins): Lake of the Woods 3-2, Warroad 6-4, East Grand Forks 4-0
Leading scorers: Aaron Myers (27-20–47), Tucker Skime (7-27–34), Brady Anderson (16-17–33), Evan Bushy (10-21–31)
Goaltender: Nick Corneliusen (14-10-2, 2.00, .930)

Notes: Thief River Falls is making its 14th state tournament appearance • the Prowlers allowed two or fewer goals in 18 games this season with seven shutouts • TRF is outscoring its opponents 91-56 • the Prowlers own a 22-15 all-time record in St. Paul • TRF went 4-7-2 before New Year’s, but is 11-3-0 since •  the Prowlers are 14-1-0 when scoring three or more goals and 2-9-2 when scoring two or fewer goals • TRF has seven players with double-digit point totals.

Source: StateofHockey.com

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