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

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#1 Giles Ferrell

Giles Ferrell

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 05:15 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 two of our two part preview on the tournament, as we take a look at Class AA.

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 AA Preview

Section 1 Champions: Lakeville South Cougars (20-5-2)

Head Coach: Mark Johnson
Top Scorer: Janna Haeg (21 goals-24 assists-45 points)
Top Goalie: Chloe Crosby (14-5-2, 2.28 GAA, .929 SV%, 3 SO)
Notable Wins: 11/28 vs Edina (4-2), 1/23 vs Eastview (5-2)
Notable Losses: 11/12 vs Eden Prarie (3-0), 11/28 vs Hill-Murray (3-2)
Section Playoffs: Lakeville North (7-3), Kasson-Mantorville (3-2, OT)

Outlook: This marks the second consecutive season the Cougars are playing in the State Tournament (6th overall appearance). They were able to leave St. Paul last year with a fourth place trophy, and will look to advance even further this year. Fourth seeded Maple Grove will be the first round matchup for Lakeville South in the tournament. If the Cougars can play to their strength (defense and goaltending), they have a very good chance to at least playing for third place again this season.

Section 2 Champions: Eden Prairie Eagles (19-7-2)

Head Coach: Jaime Grossman
Top Scorer: Naomi Rogge (21 goals-18 assists-39 points)
Top Goalie: Alexa Dobchuk (19-7-2, 1.37 GAA, .941 SV%, 10 SO)
Notable Wins: 11/12 vs Lakeville South (3-0), 1/9 vs Edina (1-0)
Notable Losses: 11/14 vs Hill-Murray (4-1), 1/26 vs Edina (2-1, OT)
Section Playoffs: Bloomington Jefferson/Kennedy (8-1), Chaska/Chanhassen (6-3), Minnetonka (2-1)

Outlook: Eden Prairie came so close to the state tournament last year, as they lost to Edina in the section two final, in overtime. Edina was re-assigned to section six this year, and the Eagles were able to get back into the tournament for the third time in four years (they upset Minnetonka in the section final). Much like Lakeville South, the Eagles biggest strength comes on the back end with defense and goaltending (1.36 goals against per game during the season). The Eagles drew the third overall seed in the tournament, and will be favored in their first round matchup against Forest Lake.

Section 3 Champions: Eastview Lightning (18-6-4)

Head Coach: Herb Harvey
Top Scorer: Natalie Snodgrass (34 goals-19 assists-53 points)
Top Goalie: Emma Tschida (15-4-4, 1.71 GAA, .907 SV%, 3SO)
Notable Wins: 11/21 vs Shakopee (3-2), 12/15 vs Eagan (4-3)
Notable Losses: 1/8 vs Farmington (5-2), 1/23 vs Lakeville South (3-0)
Section Playoffs: Rosemount (8-1), East Ridge (3-2, 2OT), Eagan (4-3, OT)

Outlook: After sneaking into the tournament last season, the Lightning are back again after upending rival Eagan in the section final. University of Connecticut recruit Natalie Snodgrass scored the game tying and game winning goal for Eastview in that win over Eagan, and will be a force for the Lightning throughout the tournament. It will be a tough go for Eastview in the first round, as they drew the second seeded Edina Hornets.

Section 4 Champions: Hill-Murray Pioneers (27-0-1)

Head Coach: Bill Schafhauser
Top Scorer: Abigail Boreen (13 goals-36 assists-49 points)
Top Goalie: Ava Bailey (14-0-0, 0.71 GAA, .948 SV%, 6 SO)
Notable Wins: 12/9 vs Edina (2-0), 1/16 vs Maple Grove (4-1)
Notable Losses: None
Section Playoffs: Woodbury (9-1), Stillwater (4-1), Mounds View (3-1)

Outlook: Entering the tournament for the fifth time in six seasons and as the number one seed overall is the defending state champion Hill-Murray Pioneers. To point out when the last time Hill-Murray lost, it came on January 17, 2015 to Maple Grove (the section five champion this season). The Pioneers have been a dominant force all season, averaging over five goals scored per game while allowing less than one goal per game (0.64). Simply put, to beat this team you will have to play a perfect game.

Section 5 Champions: Maple Grove Crimson (20-5-2)

Head Coach: Amber Hegland
Top Scorer: Taylor Wente (27 goals-27 assists-54 points)
Top Goalie: Coco Francis (10-2-2, 1.33 GAA, .940 SV%, 3 SO)
Notable Wins: 12/22 vs Eden Prarie (3-1), 1/22 vs Breck (7-2)
Notable Losses: 11/6 vs Edina (4-1), 1/16 vs Hill-Murray (4-1)
Section Playoffs: Spring Lake Park (5-0), Centennial (4-1)

Outlook: This season marks the first ever appearance for the Crimson in the state tournament. They have played a pretty fair schedule this season (in terms of quality of opponents), and their 20-5-2 record is a pretty good mark considering said schedule. In what should be a tightly contested first round game, Maple Grove finds themselves playing Lakeville South. Both teams matchup pretty similarly, so expect a fair fight.

Section 6 Champions: Edina Hornets (19-7-1)

Head Coach: Laura Slominski
Top Scorer: Lolita Fidler (19 goals-27 assists-46 points)
Top Goalie: Anna Goldstein (14-6-1, 1.28 GAA, .937 SV%, 7 SO)
Notable Wins: 11/6 vs Maple Grove (4-1), 1/26 vs Eden Prarie (2-1, OT)
Notable Losses: 12/9 vs Hill-Murray (2-0), 12/28 vs Lakeville South (4-2)
Section Playoffs: Benilde-St. Margarets (6-0), Wayzata (6-0)

Outlook: After taking home third place last season, Edina enters the tournament this year looking to make it all the way to the finals. They are on the opposite side of the bracket from Hill-Murray this year (HM beat Edina in the semifinals last season). The Hornets enter the tournament as the number two seed, and with it, a great chance to make it all the way to the Championship game. The Hornets only have a few seniors on this year's team, which means they will very well be back here again in 2017.

Section 7 Champions: Forest Lake Rangers (17-7-3)

Head Coach: Todd Gutterman
Top Scorer: Kaitlyn VanTassel (25 goals-32 points-57 points)
Top Goalie: Kaylee Remington (18-7-3, 1.69 GAA, .940 SV%, 3 SO)
Notable Wins: 12/8 vs East Ridge (3-2), 1/9 vs Roseville (4-2)
Notable Losses: 11/17 vs Breck (2-1), 12/22 vs Minnetonka (2-1)
Section Playoffs: Cambridge (7-1), Grand Rapids-Greenway (5-1), Elk River-Zimmerman (3-2)

Outlook: Making their first state tournament appearance since 2013 is the Rangers of Forest Lake. Much like a few of the teams above, the Rangers are a team that relies on defense and goaltending. Junior goaltender Kaylee Remington has started every game for the Rangers this season, and will be relied on to make the big stops in their first round matchup with Eden Prarie. If Forest Lake can keep the score low against the Eagles, they have a shot to advance to round two.

Section 8 Champions: Sartell-Sauk Rapids Storm'n Sabres (21-7-0)

Head Coach: Marty Anderson
Top Scorer: Amanda Flemming (24 goals-20 assists-44 points)
Top Goalie: Clare Minnerath (18-7-0, 1.17 GAA, .946 SV%, 9 SO)
Notable Wins: 12/10 vs St. Cloud Icebreakers (2-1), 1/7 vs Alexandria (2-1)
Notable Losses: 12/19 vs Moorhead (2-1, OT), 1/22 vs Roseau (6-3)
Section Playoffs: North Wright County (2-1, OT), River Lakes (3-0), Roseau (2-0)

Outlook: For the first time in team history, the Storm'n Sabres have made it to the state tournament. Their offense has been a bit low scoring this season (2.96 goals for per game), but they still have some pretty good talent up front so by all means dont sleep on them. Providence recruit Clare Minnerath is another strong presence in goal in this tournament (there is quite a few good goaltenders in this tourney), so goals for the opposition will be hard to come by. The Storm'n Sabres have their work cut out for them in the first round, as they drew top seeded Hill--Murray.

Tournament Schedule

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For a preview of Class A, click here

Stay tuned to Wild Xtra this week for continuing coverage of the Girls State High School Hockey Tournament.

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

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell
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