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Article: 2016 MSHSL Girls Hockey State Tournament Preview: Class A

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#1 Giles Ferrell

Giles Ferrell

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Posted 15 February 2016 - 05:41 AM

This Wednesday kicks off the 21st annual MSHSL Girls high school hockey tournament. To get you prepared for the tournament, here is a look at how all the teams stack up as they each look to leave St. Paul with some hardware. Today is part one of our two part preview of the tournament, as we take a look at Class A.

2016 MSHSL Girls Hockey Tournament
February 17-20 (full schedule below)
Championship Round Games: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
Consolation Round Games: Ridder Arena, Minneapolis

Class A Preview

Section 1 Champions: Northfield Raiders (19-9-0)

Head Coach: Brent Bielenberg
Top Scorer: Brynn Puppe (13 goals-14 assists-27 points)
Top Goalie: Mallory Tidona (19-9-0, 1.65 GAA, .927 SV%, 2 SO)
Notable wins: 12/17 vs Rochester John Marshall (1-0), 1/14 vs Red Wing (2-1, OT)
Notable losses: 11/24 vs New Prague (3-0), 12/5 vs South St. Paul (1-0)
Section playoffs: Winona (4-1), Austin (2-1), Owatonna (3-1)

Outlook: This marks Northfield's first ever appearance in the state tournament. They enter the tourney with a relatively young team (only three seniors), so they could be primed for a return appearance next year as well. But back to this year, a big strength for Northfield has been defense and goaltending, as they averaged 1.76 goals aganst per game this season. They will need that to play a huge factor in their success in the tournament, as they get the #2 seeded Warroad Warriors right out of the gate.

Section 2 Champions: New Prague Trojans (17-9-1)

Head Coach: Andrea Peterson
Top Scorer: Catie Skaja (31 goals-38 assists-69 points)
Top Goaltender: Sydney Culshaw (17-9-1, 2.06 GAA, .904 SV%, 2 SO)
Notable wins: 11/12 vs Rochester John Marshall (3-2, OT), 11/24 vs Northfield (3-0)
Notable losses: 11/7 vs Proctor/Hermantown (3-1), 12/29 vs Red Wing (3-2)
Section playoffs: New Ulm (6-1), Mound-Westonka (5-1)

Outlook: For the first time since 2008, the Trojans are back in the state tournament (5th overall appearance). New Prague has won eight of their past nine games to get them to St. Paul, and they drew the fifth seed in the tournament. Sophomore Catie Skaja (University of Minnesota commit) leads the Trojan offense, as she scored seven goals in the two section playoff games. Opposing teams will have a tough time shutting her down, and if she is able to find the net often, New Prague could make their way into the semifinals.

Section 3 Champions: Luverne Cardinals (20-6-0)

Head Coach: Tony Sandbulte
Top Scorer: Makayla Sterrett (42 goals-39 assists-81 points)
Top Goaltender: Emilie Bartels (13-5-0, 2.11 GAA, .921 SV%, 4 SO)
Notable wins: 11/24 vs Fairmont (8-3), 12/12 vs Waseca (4-3, OT)
Notable losses: 12/10 vs New Ulm (8-1), 12/31 vs Owatonna (6-0)
Section playoffs: Mankato West (5-1), Fairmont (5-2)

Outlook: After getting bounced in the first round of last year's section, Luverne made the move to section three this season (was in section two last year), and has proven to be a dominant offensive force, averaging 5.75 goals per game this season. Three players on the Cardinals have tallied more than 50 points this season (Sterrett, Madisyn Dingmann, and Mariah Aukes). They will need those players to step up and score once again, as Luverne drew the top seeded Blake Bears in the quarterfinals.

Section 4 Champions: St. Paul United (21-5-1)

Head Coach: Nate Mauer
Top Scorer: Joie Phelps (26 goals-33 assists-59 points)
Top Goaltender: Catherine Johnson (17-4-1, 1.28 GAA, .929 SV%, 8 SO)
Notable wins: 11/17 vs Red Wing (5-2), 11/28 vs Proctor-Hermantown (5-1)
Notable losses: 1/5 vs Blake (3-1), 1/28 vs Breck (7-4)
Section playoffs: Henry Sibley (9-1), South St. Paul (3-1)

Outlook: After falling in the section final last season, St. Paul United was able to avenge that overtime loss to South St. Paul by edging them in the final this season. Its the second appearance in the state tournament for United in three seasons, and they come in as the number three seed overall. United averaged nearly six goals per game this season, while allowing a goal and a half per game this season. They will not be an easy out in this tournament, and could be a potential upset team in the second round.

Section 5 Champions: Blake Bears (23-2-2)

Head Coach: Shawn Reid
Top Scorer: Carly Bullock (43 goals13 assists-56 points)
Top Goaltender: Olivia Bizal (13-1-1, 0.71 GAA, .963 SV%, 7 SO)
Notable wins: 12/12 vs Breck (4-0), 1/5 vs St. Paul United (3-1)
Notable losses: 11/10 vs Hill-Murray (3-1), 1/9 vs Breck (1-0, OT)
Section playoffs: Totino-Grace (8-2), Breck (3-2, OT)

Outlook: This is the fourth consecutive appearance for Blake in the State Tournament, as they have become somewhat of a powerhouse in section five. The Bears missed out on their third straight title last year, as they fell to Thief River Falls in the title game. Blake enters the tournament as the top seed, as they got past a very good Breck team in the section final. Look for the Bears to make a good push for their third state title in four years.

Section 6 Champions: Alexandria Cardinals (18-7-1)

Head Coach: Blair Hovel
Top Scorer: Mari Wosepka (12 goals-24 assists-36 points)
Top Goaltender: Amy Jost (13-6-1, 1.70 GAA, .935 SV%, 1 SO)
Notable wins: 11/13 vs Sartell/Sauk Rapids (2-1, OT), 1/23 vs Bemidji (4-2)
Notable losses: 11/20 vs Mound-Westonka (3-1), 12/18 vs Rogers (4-1)
Section playoffs: Northern Lakes (4-1), Fergus Falls (4-0)

Outlook: In the past 13 years, Alexandria has advanced to the tournament in 10 of those years. Considering the brief history of the girls high school tournament, that is a very impressive stat. Problem for Alexandria is that they have been getting bounced from the tournament in the first round. They did win the consolation title last year, and are looking to go further in the championship round this season. They have a tough test in the quarterfinals, as they play St. Paul United. If the Cardinals can get a solid performance in goal from Amy Jost, they could make an upset in round one.

Section 7 Champions: Proctor-Hermantown Mirage (19-7-1)

Head Coach: Glen Gilderman
Top Scorer: Callie Hoff (21 goals-26 assists-47 points)
Top Goaltender: Amy Lemenager (12-6-1, 1.36 GAA, .940 SV%, 6 SO)
Notable wins: 11/7 vs New Prague (3-1), 1/26 vs Duluth Marshall (3-0)
Notable losses: 11/27 vs Breck (4-0), 11/28 vs St. Paul United (5-1)
Section playoffs: Moose Lake (6-1), Hibbing-Chisholm (3-0)

Outlook: After falling to Hibbing-Chisholm in the section final last season, the Mirage are making their return to St. Paul as they took care of business in the final this year. Defense and goaltending have brought the Mirage here, as they averaged 0.50 goals allowed per game during the regular season and postseason. They will need their defense and goaltending in their first round matchup with New Prague, and if they can stand tall, they should have a great chance to make it to the semifinals.

Section 8 Champions: Warroad Warriors (23-3-1)

Head Coach: David Marvin
Top Scorer: Mariah Gardner (33 goals-49 assists-82 points)
Top Goaltender: Emma Brunelle (15-3-1, 1.31 GAA, .928 SV%, 5 SO)
Notable wins: 11/20 vs Breck (7-6), 12/8 vs Thief River Falls (3-2)
Notable losses: 11/21 vs Edina (4-1), 1/12 vs Thief River Falls (2-1)
Section playoffs: Detroit Lakes (10-1), Thief River Falls (3-1)

Outlook: The Warriors are back in the tourney after knocking out defending Class A champion Thief River Falls in the section final. They have been a real solid team this season, and earned the number two seed in the tournament. Gardner (82 points) and Madison Oelkers (64 points) have been a dominant force on the offensive side for Warroad all season, and will continue to do so this week at the tournament. Both will be returning next year, so expect a return appearance from Warroad in 2017. As for 2016, if Warroad meets Blake in the final, the Warriors sure will give the Bears a run for their money.

Tournament Schedule

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Check back tomorrow for the Class AA preview!

Info and stats in this post courtesy of the Minnesota State High School League and the Star Tribune Girls Hockey Hub

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