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2016 MSHSL Boys Hockey Tournament Preview: Class A

It's Minnesota Hockey's biggest week as the best high school hockey teams in the state make their way to St. Paul to take part in one of the most revered tournaments in amateur athletics. Today we preview the annual tournament with the Class A bracket.
Image courtesy of Brace Hemmelgarn-USA Today Sports

2016 MSHSL Boys Hockey Tournament

March 2-5 (Full Schedule Below)

Championship round games: Xcel Energy Center

Consolation round games: Mariucci Arena


Class A

Section 1 Champions: Mankato West Scarlets (15-11-2)

Head Coach: Curtis Doell
Top Scorer: Tyler Loe (22 goals-25 assists-47 points)
Top Goalie: Jackson Peterson (15-11-2, 2.87 GAA, .873 SV%, 3 SO)
Notable Wins: 12/1 vs Mankato East/Loyola (8-2), 2/11 vs Rochester John Marshall (6-5, OT)
Notable Losses: 12/18 vs St. Cloud Cathedral (7-3), 12/28 vs St. Paul Academy (4-1)
Section Playoffs: Albert Lea (2-1, 2OT), LSHSPTCUC (5-1), Northfield (1-0)

Outlook: This is just the second all-time appearance in the tournament for the Scarlets (first was in 2008). Their record took a dip from last season (18-7-2), but the Scarlets managed to win their final six games this year, including the three games in the section playoffs to make it to St. Paul. Mankato West will come into the tournament as heavy underdogs in their quarterfinal matchup, as they drew the second seeded Breck Mustangs.

Section 2 Champions: Breck Mustangs (24-4-1)

Head Coach: Les Larson
Top Scorer: Chase Ellingson (36 goals-36 assists-72 points)
Top Goalie: Linden Olness (23-3-1, 1.76 GAA, .904 SV%, 5 SO)
Notable Wins: 12/5 vs Thief River Falls (4-1), 1/28 vs St. Paul Academy (4-3, OT)
Notable Losses: 12/10 vs Wayzata (2-1, OT), 12/30 vs St. Michael-Albertville (6-1)
Section Playoffs: Mound Westonka (12-2), Blake (4-0), Delano (5-3)

Outlook: For the seventh time since 2009, Breck has made it to the state tournament. The Mustangs have been one of the more dominant forces in Class A , which has lead to the constant debate as to if they should move up to Class AA. But that's for a different day. Breck enters the tournament as the number two seed (behind Hermantown), and given the field this year, they are heavy favorites to make it to the final for a showdown with Hermantown.

Section 3 Champions: Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato Dragons (20-8-0)

Head Coach: Chris Olson
Top Scorer: David Raisanen (41 goals-32 assists-73 points)
Top Goalie: Dylan Lemke (8-2-0, 2.44 GAA, .904 SV%, 3 SO)
Notable Wins: 12/12 vs New Ulm (6-5, OT), 1/12 vs Hutchinson (4-2)
Notable Losses: 12/29 vs Luverne (6-3), 1/22 vs Delano (7-5)
Section Playoffs: Marshall (6-5), Hutchinson (5-4), Luverne (7-6, OT)

Outlook: For the first time since 2008, and third appearance overall, Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato has made it to the state tournament. They were a high scoring team during the regular season, scoring over six goals per game. That offense will be put to the test right away on Wednesday, as the Dragons get a matchup with the top seeded Hawks of Hermantown. If the Dragons can keep up their high powered attack, they have a chance to upset the Hawks.

Section 4 Champions: St. Paul Academy & Summit School Spartans (23-5-0)

Head Coach: Matt Funk
Top Scorer: Matt Dahlseide (25 goals-32 assists-57 points)
Top Goalie: Andy Beran (23-5-0, 1.88 GAA, .918 SV%, 4 SO)
Notable Wins: 12/5 vs East Grand Forks (7-3), 12/19 vs Rochester John Marshall (3-2)
Notable Losses: 12/12 vs Breck (6-0), 1/14 vs Blake (6-5)
Section Playoffs: Henry Sibley (6-1), South St. Paul (7-1), Totino-Grace (7-1)

Outlook: It has been 42 years since St. Paul Academy graced the state tournament with their presence (1974, won the state title). After Mahtomedi was upset in the semifinals of section four, it paved the way for the Spartans to cruse into the tournament. The Spartans will get the last game on Wednesday, drawing a number four seed and a matchup with number five seed St. Cloud Cathedral.

Section 5 Champions: Princeton Tigers (21-7-0)

Head Coach: Jeff Hanson
Top Scorer: Jake S. Carlson (16 goals-39 assists-55 points)
Top Goalie: Gabe Pangerl (13-2-0, 1.70 GAA, .924 SV%, 3 SO)
Notable Wins: 12/12 vs Chisago Lakes (3-1), 1/15 vs Monticello (4-1)
Notable Losses: 1/9 vs St. Michael/Albertville (5-1), 2/6 vs Chisago Lakes (4-1)
Section Playoffs: Legacy Christian Academy (8-1), Pine City/Rush City (9-4), Monticello-Annandale-Maple Lake (3-1)

Outlook: This is the first state tournament appearance for the Tigers in 13 years (2003). They were the top seed in section five, and were one of the rare few to make it to the state tournament this year. Princeton has been in many tight games all season, which they could use to their advantage during the tournament. A matchup with Thief River Falls on Wednesday afternoon awaits the Tigers.

Section 6 Champions: St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders (20-7-1)

Head Coach: Derrick Brown
Top Scorer: Logan Neu (22 goals-32 assists-54 points)
Top Goalie: Keegan Karki (13-6-1, 2.94 GAA, .883 SV%, 2 SO)
Notable Wins: 11/27 vs Warroad (4-3), 12/18 vs Mankato West (7-3)
Notable Losses: 11/28 vs East Grand Forks (4-3), 12/17 vs Breck (9-1)
Section Playoffs: Alexandria (5-2), Sartell (7-2), Little Falls (10-2)

Outlook: For the second time in three years, the Crusaders have made it out of the section six bracket. They were not expected to make it to St. Paul this year, but an upset of the top seeded St. Cloud Apollo cleared the way for them to make it in the tourney. If the Crusaders can put up 4-5 goals per game, they should have a good chance to win some games this week. But anything under 4 goals, and they could be in real trouble.

Section 7 Champions: Hermantown Hawks (24-2-1)

Head Coach: Bruce Plante
Top Scorer: Cole Koepke (35 goals-22 assists-57 points)
Top Goalie: Luke Olson (18-2-0, 1.36 GAA, .940 SV%, 3 SO)
Notable Wins: 11/27 vs Wayzata (5-3), 12/12 vvs Thief River Falls (4-1)
Notable Losses: 12/18 vs Minnetonka (3-0), 1/16 vs Bemidji (4-2)
Section Playoffs: Eveleth-Gilbert (12-2), Greenway (9-0), Hibbing Chisholm (8-0)

Outlook: This is the seventh straight tournament appearance for Hermantown, and for most of that run, the Hawks have ended up as the runner up in the tournament. They do have a state title (2007), but during this streak of consecutive appearances, they have been unable to win the title. Is this finally their year? Odds certainly favor that.

Section 8 Champions: Thief River Falls Prowlers (22-6-0)

Head Coach: Tim Bergland
Top Scorer: Ethan Johnson (46 goals-19 assists-65 points)
Top Goalie: Kade Nelson (22-6-0, 1.95 GAA, .909 SV%, 7 SO)
Notable Wins: 1/14 vs Warroad (4-3, OT), 1/19 vs East Grand Forks (5-0)
Notable Losses: 12/5 vs Breck (4-1), 12/12 vs Hermantown (4-1)
Section Playoffs: Red Lake Falls (5-0), Detroit Lakes (4-0), East Grand Forks (3-1)

Outlook: After missing the tournament the past three seasons to rival East Grand Forks, the Prowlers got their revenge on the Green Wave by defeating them in the section final. Thief River Falls comes into the tournament as the number three seed, and will face Princeton in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Since the calendar flipped, the Prowlers have won 13 out of 16 games, so keep an eye on them to perhaps make an upset in the tournament this year.

Tournament Schedule

Posted Image

Check back tomorrow for the Class AA preview!


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