Section 7A (2016-2017)

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rainier
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Section 7A (2016-2017)

Post by rainier » Fri Oct 21, 2016 2:16 pm

Here’s my preseason thoughts on 7A. I would appreciate it if other 7A fans could correct my mistakes and help fill in important things I have missed. (I’m looking at you Greenie, PuckRanger, pekyman, and Jeffy95) :) Unfortunately, YHH doesn’t have last year’s bantam rankings/results available on their website, thus my assessment of incoming bantam classes will be shaky, at best.

Preseason ranking, team name (Record last season/7A seed last season/% goals returning/% total points returning)

1. Hermantown (21-2-1/#1/54%/59%)-To most Class A teams, losing players like Koepke, Aamodt, and Gotz would be a huge loss. To Hermantown, it’s merely a drop in their deep talent bucket. They return five of their top six forwards, will still have two Elite League defenseman, and they lose an Elite League goalie only to replace him with another one. As usual, their AA bantam team will provide another infusion of top talent to fill any gaps. If there is a weakness on this team, it may be depth at defense, but the quality of this program will ensure their 3rd and 4th defenseman will still be better than most A teams’ 1st and 2nd. It will take a colossal upset for them to not win 7A, and the A state title is theirs to lose.

Hopefully the rumors are true and the Hawks will opt up to AA starting next year. Yes, I am bitter that their delay in opting up keeps some outstanding Hibbing and Greenway teams from making a run at state, but I am almost as bitter that I didn’t get to root for the Hawks in the 7AA and State AA tourney, where they would have had as good of a chance as anyone to win. Plante and Hermantown should be proud of the success they have had in A and the great program they have created, but they should be most proud that they have developed their program to the point of being good enough to compete well with the best in AA. When they do move up, no, they won’t make it to state every year anymore, but they will make runs at state, giving fans of northern hockey another team to cheer for.

2. Greenway (21-4/#4/66%/70%)-The Raiders had their best team since they were going to state in AA about 15 years ago, as they put up a gaudy record and broke into the Class A top ten rankings. They do lose top scorer and physical presence Kalisch along with an excellent goaltender in Ladoux, but this is a team that still returns a lot of scoring and the majority of their defense, and will have a strong bantam class supplying them with more top talent and also depth. Head coach Clafton has already shown he will get the most out of his players, and it will be fun to see what he can do with even more talent this season.

A criticism of Greenway last season was their weak schedule, something that fortunately has been addressed as Breck, EGF, GR, Alexandria, Duluth Marshall, and SPA have all been added to the schedule. While Goliath will still awaits them at the end of the 7A rainbow, the Raiders will at least have a chance to show the state what they can do against strong competition and shouldn’t lose a section game to anyone other than the Hawks.

Questions I have:
-Goaltending. Whoever patrols the net will be inexperienced. How quickly can he adjust to the varsity game?
-Freshmen stars? I believe there are two outstanding bantam-age freshmen. Will they be called up to varsity this season, and if so, how much impact can they provide?
-Top line? Will Lantz-Troumbly-Carlson be kept together on a line, forming a very potent top unit? Or will Clafton opt for a more balanced top two lines?

3. Hibbing (22-3/#2/49%/42%)-No team in 7A was more impacted by departures than Hibbing, as the Bluejackets lost the state’s best defenseman to juniors and the state’s best goalie to Team USA. That said, the cupboard is not bare for the navy blue and white as they return two-time 20 goal scorer DeBoom, Elite League forward Lee, and near point-per-game forwards in Mattson and Versich. For the first time, these players will be asked to produce without the passing wizardry of Perunovich creating chances. The #2 and #3 defenseman return, and although the bantam team was weak last season, there may be a player or two that could fill roles on varsity this year.

So why do I have them all the way up at #3 given the not-so-rosy picture I have just painted? The junior varsity last season was spectacular. I’m dead serious. They were 21-2-2 last season, with their only losses being a 3-2 loss at Hermantown when Hibbing’s best defenseman didn’t play and a 4-3 loss to Denfeld in which they outshot the Hunters 44-15. They tied Cloquet despite outshooting them by a ton, and they tied an Apollo team that used varsity players because of low numbers. They beat quality programs GR, Brainerd, Roseau, EGF, TRF, and Warroad, held their opponents to 1 goal or less 17 times, and overall outscored their opponents 122-35!

This is the main criticism I have of the previous coach: His JV teams were too good. The year before, the JV tied freaking Hill-Murray and trounced other teams, and this past year’s JV team was even better. There were three juniors on last year’s team that were simply dominant in JV games, and there was no excuse for them not getting more time on varsity. You could never convince me that these three kids weren’t better than 3 or 4 seniors that got regular playing time on varsity last season, and I wasn’t alone in this belief. It was a surreal situation, and I think the only reason more ruckus wasn’t raised is because the varsity team was so good. I’m not saying these players would have made Hibbing good enough to beat Hermantown, but I think they certainly would have bolstered the back end of the roster while also benefitting more from regular shifts on the varsity 3rd line and 4th-5th defense spots than kicking butt at the JV level.

As I said, I’m not saying these players turn Hibbing into a top 5 A team this season, but they along with 4-5 other solid players who were sophomores on the JV team last year will provide enough depth to keep the Bluejackets a top 3 team in 7A this season, and perhaps a top 10-15 team in Class A.

Questions I have:
-New sheriff in town. What impact will new coach Justin Tomberlin have? I know nothing about him other than he is a Greenway guy who played hockey and baseball for Maine University.
-Goaltending. Filling the shoes of departed star goalie Ullan is a lot to ask of any HS tendy, and Hibbing will have a few inexperienced players who will give it a shot. Hopefully one of them grows into a solid option as the season moves along.

4. Virginia (9-14-2/#6/64%/69%)-In what is a recurring theme in 7A, yet another team loses a fantastic goaltender. Westerholm was a rock in net last year for the Blue Devils, as he kept them in many games that otherwise would have been blowouts. On the plus side, Virginia does return a lot of scoring, and will be bolstered by a wave of incoming bantam talent. Seitz is dominating the Elite Prep League, and I expect him to take another step this season as a junior. Murray and Lamppa had solid seasons last year, and Phaneuf will enter his junior season looking to replicate his success at youth levels. An X factor for Virginia the last few years has been exchange students, as they have had talented Finnish players such as Westerholm and Heikkila bring their talents to the Queen City. Will there be another Euro star on this year’s team?

The success of Virginia ultimately depends on how fast their youngsters can get up to speed at varsity. If enough of them can be reliable contributors right away, then the #3 seed is within their reach. Even if not, I still don’t see any of the teams I have ranked below them having enough to overtake them for #4.

Questions I have:
-Finnished. Westerholm carried the load last year, thus the backup didn’t see much action. Once again we will have to see how an inexperienced 7A goalie fares at the varsity level.
-Third wheel. Who will emerge to join Seitz and Lamppa on the top line? If one of their sophomores can step in and be productive, this line could be very good.

5. North Shore (18-7/#5/75%/65%)-North Shore surprised many people when they broke into the top 20 A rankings last year, but it soon became apparent their weak schedule was inflating their win total. Nevertheless, the Storm captured the #5 seed in 7A, and did so while relying on underclassmen. They return more goal scoring than any team in the section, and may be able to put a scare into Virginia and make a run at a top 4 seed. They are one of the few teams in 7A returning a goalie with significant varsity experience, so another step forward for the Storm is a possibility.

Questions I have:
-Will they stay or will they go? Nordean and Ketola are very good players, which makes me nervous that Duluth Marshall will be knocking on their doors, encouraging them to follow in the footsteps of previous Silver Bay stars that went to the Toppers. I hope they stay home and create more buzz around their program.

6. Eveleth-Gilbert (7-17-1/#9/56%/63%)-The Golden Bears return a decent amount of scoring, and I believe they had a solid bantam squad, thus they may be looking to rise in the section and get into the top 4. Hendrickson had a great sophomore season last year, so I expect him to take his game to another level and drive this team.

Question I have:
-Youth movement. It seems as though E-G has had some good youth teams the last few years, and those players should start arriving at varsity soon. Will the re-birth of E-G begin this season?

7. Duluth Denfeld (11-13-1/#3/13%/11%)-It seems strange to put the Hunters at this low of a ranking, but they return almost no scoring, lost their great goalie Alander, and don’t appear to have much bantam talent coming in. I have been wrong before about this team, as they got the #3 seed last season despite seemingly losing all their talent the year before. Will they surprise again?

Question I have:
-Will Trump have to build a wall around Denfeld high school? The last few seasons have seen the Hunters get players from Cloquet, Hermantown, Marshall, and Edina. Will there be any surprise transfers this year?

8. International Falls (10-14-1/#8/56%/61%)-The Broncos bring back a decent amount of scoring, and they did play well last year against a few of the teams I have ranked ahead of them, so perhaps they make a move upwards.

Question I have:
-Return to glory. With one of the most storied programs in MN history, I–Falls has fallen steeply due to economic factors. Nevertheless, it wasn’t that long ago they were a top 5 team in 7A and it appears there is some talent at the youth levels that should get them back there in a few years.

9. Proctor (11-13/#7/54%/53%)-The Rails created some early buzz in 7A last year by beating Duluth Marshall and scoring a lot of goals in their other games, but the balloon deflated as they lost many 7A games which led to a #7 seed. Overall they return half of their points, but 3 of their top 4 scorers are gone, leaving one to wonder if there will be enough talent coming in to fill those holes.

Question I have:
-Bring the boys back home. When will the all the top talent from Proctor decide to stay home? There is plenty of talent within the confines of the Proctor school district, but it needs to start staying there. If players like Worth, Aamodt, Samberg, and Judnick had been a part of last year’s Proctor team, they may have been the #2 seed. Hopefully this trend changes and more kids choose to don the green and black.

10. Ely-The Wolves are a small school that continues to field a team, which is great. They have great success in other sports, so hopefully that can carry over to hockey and their program will grow.


Overall: I will be shocked if it isn’t Hermantown vs Greenway in the 7A title game this year, and I will be just as shocked if Hermantown doesn’t win it. I sincerely also hope that the Hawks make the move to AA so that almost every team in 7A can be one great class away from a realistic shot at going to state.
"You can't triple stamp a double stamp." -Harry Dunn

Goldy Gopher
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Post by Goldy Gopher » Fri Oct 21, 2016 3:15 pm

Your ONLY place for a brilliant Hibbing JV breakdown and analysis. =D>
The U invented swagger.

rainier
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Post by rainier » Fri Oct 21, 2016 3:48 pm

Goldy Gopher wrote:Your ONLY place for a brilliant Hibbing JV breakdown and analysis. =D>
Thanks! My next post about JV level hockey will be on the Gophers. :lol:
"You can't triple stamp a double stamp." -Harry Dunn

Section 8 guy
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Post by Section 8 guy » Sat Oct 22, 2016 12:44 am

Curiosity question for those that know it well......if Hermantown does move up to AA......using youth hockey results or whatever other info and history available.......what year coming up lines up as their best chance for their first trip to the AA tourney?

elliott70
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Post by elliott70 » Sat Oct 29, 2016 8:56 am

ttt

rainier
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Post by rainier » Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:57 am

With two weeks’ worth of games in the books, here are my latest 7A rankings.
Overall record and 7A record are given for each team.

1. Hermantown- 0-1-1 (0-0) No reason to drop the Hawks despite their record, as they played two top 15 AA teams in Wayzata and Lakeville South. They face two more AA foes this week, as they host Duluth Marshall and Hopkins, and they should win both. With 13 AA games and only 6 games vs 7A on their schedule, the Hawks don’t really figure into the 7A picture until playoffs begin, at which time they should roll to state again. They don’t play their first 7A game until Jan 3rd against Greenway, so hopefully by that time they will have declared their intention to opt up to AA.

2. Greenway- 3-0 (2-0) While the Raiders are undefeated, I imagine their coach Clafton isn’t too happy about the way they’ve gone about it. They beat a mediocre Mound team 4-1, scraped by Eveleth 5-4 despite outshooting them 51-17, then snuck by Virginia 3-2, despite Virginia missing their best player and two other solid regulars.

I watched the game vs Virginia and was shocked at how sloppy and discombobulated Greenway looked for most of the game. (Both teams were sloppy.) Not until the 3rd period did I start to see the team I expected, and even then it was on the power play that they started to click. Their penalty kill won the game by getting two shorties, but even strength was a struggle for most of the night, which, again, surprised me.

Nevertheless, I am confident that this team will start to click and show why they are the second most talented team in 7A. The Raiders have three games this week, as they should beat Denfeld and Sauk Rapids easily before going to East Grand Forks to face their toughest challenge to date.

3. Hibbing- 2-0 (0-0) The Bluejackets took care of business against two mediocre teams, as they beat Little Falls and Mound by identical 4-1 scores. New goalie Kriske has been solid, posting a .950 sv %, the defense looked decent despite top blue liner Kanipes being out with an injury, and they have three forward lines that look like they will compete well in 7A. But again, this was against so-so competition, thus we’ll have to wait until this week to see what they do against a quality Roseau team.

Hibbing will play their first 7A game as they host I-Falls on Friday, then their toughest test to date will be on Saturday as the Rams come to town. The Roseau game should be good preparation for the Bluejackets to get ready for their big 7A showdown with Greenway on the 13th.

4. Virginia- 2-1 (1-1) The Blue Devils are tough to figure out right now, but I remain optimistic about them being at least a top 4 team in 7A. They beat I-Falls 4-0 despite being outshot 38-25, then took Greenway to the limit in a 3-2 penalty-filled slopfest, then took care of business against Little Falls with a 5-3 (en) home win.

The reason I am optimistic is because they have been playing without their best player Seitz and two other solid regulars due to injuries and one player being in an all-star football game, yet they are one goal away from a 3-0 start. You can see the talent in the class of sophomores; these kids will keep Virginia near the top of 7A for the next three years, and should be the favorite to win the section next year provided Hermantown does opt up. Both goaltenders also looked solid, which is yet another reason to think this team could climb up the rankings as the season goes along.

Optimism aside, the reason they stay behind Hibbing at this point is that I thought Hibbing looked much better vs Little Falls. The schedule ramps up this week, as the Blue Devils are likely to get crunched by Grand Rapids, but they have a chance to make a statement vs Warroad before playing a Northern Lakes team that they should beat.

5. Eveleth- 1-1 (1-1) The Golden Bears surprised many by playing Greenway tight and then beating Denfeld 8-4. There is some skill at the top end of this roster, and they may just surprise a few teams if they aren’t taken seriously. They will have a chance to stay in the top half of 7A this week when they take on I-Falls, followed by home games against South St Paul and Eagan.

6. North Shore- 2-1 (1-0) The Storm took care of Moose Lake 9-1, then beat Proctor 4-1 before falling to North St. Paul 5-0. They may very well be a top 5 team in 7A, but it will be hard to tell as they won’t play another non-Ely 7A game until Jan. 10th. This team will rack up wins again due to their soft schedule, but we will have to wait a month before we see them play top 5 7A teams.

7. I-falls- 0-3 (0-1) The Broncos lost to Virginia 4-0, St Paul Highland Park 3-1, and then to Little Falls 6-1. There is little reason to think they will move any higher than #7, but they did outshoot Virginia 38-25, so perhaps there is enough offensive ability to get a win over an Eveleth or North Shore. We’ll get a much better idea where they stand in 7A this week, as they face Eveleth, Hibbing, and Proctor.

8. Proctor-1-3 (0-1) The Rails beat a bad Chisago Lakes team 4-1, and lost to Armstrong Cooper 5-0, Duluth Marshall 9-1, and North Shore 4-1. They will have a chance to pick up some wins this week, as they face Moose Lake, LOW, and I-Falls. The loss of their best player Aase to injury for likely the whole season was a severe blow to their chances of moving up in 7A.

9. Denfeld- 0-4 (0-1) The bottom truly has fallen out for the Hunters, as they have been outscored by mediocre opponents 25-8 thus far. With losses to Red Wing 7-0, Minnehaha 5-0, Eveleth 8-4 and NSP 5-4, there isn’t much hope for this team getting back to the top 4 in 7A where they’ve been for several years now. The better performance vs NSP is encouraging, so perhaps they will show improvement. They face a tough test early in the week as they travel to Greenway, then they host Eagan and South St. Paul.

10. Ely- 1-1 (0-0) The Wolves will get their first taste of 7A action this week as they take on North Shore.

7A Game of the Week- It's not a matchup of two 7A teams, but the Greenway-EGF game is the one I find most intriguing. A win in this game for the Raiders would go a long way to show that they are truly a top ten team in Class A.
"You can't triple stamp a double stamp." -Harry Dunn

rainier
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Post by rainier » Sun Dec 11, 2016 2:02 pm

Here are the latest 7A rankings.
Overall record and 7A record are given for each team.

1. Hermantown- 2-1-1 (0-0) The Hawks continued with their AA-only schedule thus far, beating Duluth Marshall 3-1 and Hopkins 9-0. Their first game of the week is against another top AA team (Minnetonka) before finally dipping their toe in the single A pool with a game against New Prague. They won’t face a 7A team until Greenway on Jan. 3rd.

2. Greenway- 6-0 (3-0) The Raiders started off with a too-close-for-comfort 4-3 win over Denfeld in which they outshot the Hunters 45-17, but then pounded Sauk Rapids 9-1 before passing their first tough test of the season, a 4-3 road win over EGF. (A win even more impressive considering Greenway played the night before while EGF did not.)

While scuffling against some inferior teams thus far, the Raider team I expected to see showed up in their last two games. If the goaltending continues to improve and they stay away from bad penalties (3-4 misconducts so far this season), then they should win their non-Hermantown 7A games and also be ready to face top A foes Breck, Alexandria, and SPA.

They play a big game in Hibbing on Tuesday this week, and a win will gave them a stranglehold on the #2 seed.

3. Hibbing- 3-1 (1-0) The Bluejackets took care of business against I-Falls 5-0 before falling 2-1 to Roseau. Although they lost to the Rams, there were positives to take away from the game. After struggling in the opening period, Hibbing controlled the play in the 2nd and 3rd, outshooting Roseau 21-6, but Woolever shut the door and kept Hibbing from capitalizing on some excellent scoring chances.

In all four of their games, the Bluejackets have allowed their opponents very little sustained offensive zone time, something that has helped their inexperienced goaltender tremendously. If they can turn up the offense a bit, then they may have a chance to knock off better A teams such as Alexandria, EGF, Warroad, etc.

Next week begins with a huge home game vs Greenway, and a win there would put Hibbing on the inside track for #2 in 7A. But in order to do that, they will have to play their best game of the season to date. A matchup against Crookston follows later in the week.

4. Virginia- 3-3 (1-1) As expected the Blue Devils got whipped by GR 8-2, and followed this up with a 7-1 loss to Warroad and a 5-2 win over Northern Lakes. This will be a different team when Seitz and Lamppa return from injuries, but for now Virginia appears to be step behind Greenway and Hibbing.

They do have a chance to take down some 7A foes this week, as they travel to Denfeld and Eveleth this week. Two wins there would keep them solidly in the top 5, if not top 4, in 7A.

5. Eveleth- 2-3 (2-1) The Golden Bears started the week off with a nice 7A win over I-Falls 5-4, despite being outshot 50-27. They then suffered two tough losses, to South St. Paul 6-4 and to Eagan 3-0. They have an excellent chance to make some 7A hay this week, as they face Ely, Proctor, and Virginia. A sweep would put them up to #4.

6. North Shore- 4-1 (2-0) The Storm took care of two weaker teams this week, as they beat Ely 4-2 and Ashland 6-4. Despite their solid record, I keep them at #6 due to their schedule being so weak. This week they take on Pine City and St. Louis Park. It will be hard to really know where North Shore belongs in 7A until they start playing top five 7A teams in January.

7. Proctor-4-3 (1-1) The Rails had a solid week, going 3-0 with wins over Moose Lake, LOW, and I-Falls. While the first two wins don’t move the 7A needle much, the victory against I-Falls moves them up to #7. They will have a chance to move further up the rankings this week as they hit the road to face Eveleth-Gilbert.

8. I-Falls- 0-6 (0-4)
The Broncos stayed winless this week, with a 5-0 loss at Hibbing and two one goal losses to Eveleth and Proctor. The Falls has shown some offensive ability, as they outshot Eveleth by 28 and Virginia by 13, yet they have no wins to show for it. They will try to get off the schneid this week as they travel to LOW and Kittson.

9. Denfeld- 0-7 (0-2) The Hunters’ woes continued this week as they lost to Greenway, Eagan, and South St. Paul, keeping them winless on the year. They have kept some of these games closer as of late, so perhaps they will start picking up some wins. They take on Virginia this week.

10. Ely- 2-2 (0-1) The Wolves lost to North Shore and beat LOW this week.

7A Game of the Week: Greenway at Hibbing- While the Bluejackets have looked good in their four games this season, The Raiders will be the best team they have faced. Undefeated Greenway has already passed one tough single A road test in the EGF win, so they should head into this game feeling good about their chances. I’ll take Greenway to win 4-2.
"You can't triple stamp a double stamp." -Harry Dunn

rainier
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Post by rainier » Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:10 pm

Here are the latest 7A rankings.

Overall record and 7A record are given for each team.

1. Hermantown- 4-1-1 (0-0) The Hawks beat top ten AA team Minnetonka 4-1, then destroyed New Prague 8-1 to finish the week. Their only game this week is a road trip to TRF. The week after they will be in the Hilltopper Classic, where a QF game against Bemidji and then a possible semifinal against Delano loom.

The real question many have is if Hermantown will opt up to AA. It seems to usually be announced around the holidays, so perhaps the decision becomes public soon.

2. Hibbing- 5-1 (2-0) The Bluejackets started the week off with a huge 7A win over Greenway at home 5-1, then they took down Crookston 8-2. They looked good in both games, getting scoring from the 2nd and 3rd lines and showing off some depth at defense also.

The degree of difficulty goes up this week, as Hibbing first goes to Cloquet before heading to Coleraine to face Greenway for the second time in 10 days. A win over the Raiders would give Hibbing an almost insurmountable lead in the race for the #2 seed.

3. Greenway- 6-1 (3-1) The Raiders started the week by losing at Hibbing, then had home games vs Lourdes and Breck canceled due to weather. Greenway had really improved its schedule this season, and the game vs Breck was to be a measuring stick to see how they stacked up against a top tier A team. Sadly it didn’t take place, and I don’t know if it will be rescheduled or not.

This week, they have a chance for two big 7A wins, as they go to Eveleth before hosting Hibbing. By taking care of Eveleth for a second time, the Raiders will ensure themselves of at least a #4 seed, and a win over Hibbing would all but lock up at least a top 3 seed.

4. Virginia- 5-3 (3-1) The Blue Devils had a nice week as they pummeled Denfeld 10-4 before beating Eveleth 3-2, both on the road. With their only 7A blemish thus far a one goal loss to Greenway, Virginia seems poised to stay in the top 4 the rest of the way. And given that they are doing this without their star forward Seitz, excitement has to be building in the Queen City. With a rematch vs the Raiders and three games vs Hibbing still remaining, the Devils control their own seeding fate.

This week Virginia travels to Cloquet for a tough contest against a Jacks team similar in make-up, i.e., lots of sophomore talent.

5. Eveleth- 5-3 (5-1) The Golden Bears had a solid week, 7A wise. They beat Ely and Proctor by identical 7-1 scores, then had a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Virginia in which they outshot the Blue Devils 31-24 in a game that saw a combined 59 penalty minutes handed out.

Eveleth is a team on the rise, as they have some good young talent on this team and a bantam A team that is currently top 10. (The bantam team would be even more formidable, but top freshman Everson is on varsity.) If Hermantown opts up, then the next few years may see the Bears climb into the top 3 in 7A, along with some excellent Virginia and Greenway teams.

Their only game this week is a road trip to take on Greenway, and a win would be huge. They did stay with the Raiders earlier in the season in a 5-4 OT loss, but they were outshot 51-18, so a repeat close game would be unexpected.

6. North Shore- 4-1 (2-0) The Storm had their whole week wiped out by crappy weather, as road games vs Pine City and St. Louis Park were canceled. This week, they face Hayward and North Branch, so we still won’t have any direct evidence as to whether they should be ranked higher.

7. Proctor-4-4 (1-2) The Rails loss to Eveleth 7-1 in their only game of the week. This week they will play Superior and Princeton.

8. I-Falls- 1-7 (0-4) The Broncos finally got a win this week, 7-0 over Kittson, but they also fell to LoW 4-1. I Falls had been generating tons of shots vs teams like Eveleth and Virginia earlier in the season, but they have no 7A wins to show for it, so they are a confusing team to assess. Their only game this week is a border battle war with Fort Frances.

9. Denfeld- 0-8 (0-3) The Hunters’ winless streak continues, as they were beaten soundly by Virginia this week. Next week doesn’t get easier, as they play St. Cloud Cathedral and Superior.

It’s hard to believe that just two years ago Denfeld was a near top ten team in A. However, this season should be the nadir for Denfeld, as they do have some solid youth teams, although with East, Marshall, and Hermantown all providing a strong draw, it remains to be seen how much of their talent they can keep.

10. Ely- 3-3 (0-1) The Wolves had one game canceled this week, but they did pick up a win vs Richfield/SW Christian 8-0.

7A Game of the Week: Hibbing at Greenway. For the second week in a row, the 2nd and 3rd best teams in 7A face off. Hibbing was the better team in last week’s game, but the shots were 21-20 and it was obvious that there isn’t much separating these two teams. As Karl mentioned, it was strange that the Raiders’ top guns were separated on different lines, as it killed their ability to generate sustained offensive pressure, IMO.

I have a few questions heading into this game:
1. Will Sundquist play? Greenway’s best defenseman went down in the 3rd period of the Hibbing game with a knee/leg injury. He was unable to skate off on his own power. If he is still out, that is a huge plus for Hibbing.

2. Wake up call? I believe most observers, including myself, thought that Greenway was a step ahead of Hibbing heading into the game. Perhaps the Raider players shared that belief, and weren’t prepared for Hibbing to be as good as they were. Whether or not this was the case, I expect Greenway to be angry and come out with high intensity. I also think the home crowd will be foaming at the mouth, providing the Raiders with an extra level of energy.

3. Line combos? Perhaps the separating of top forwards Lantz, Troumbly, and Carlson onto three different lines was meant to prevent Hibbing from getting too many top line vs 2nd or 3rd line advantages in Hibbing last week, I don’t know. I would be surprised if we didn’t see the lines more top heavy this week.

4. Where’s Greenie? We haven’t heard from you in a while Greenie, hope all is well. Your analysis is always even-handed and objective, so it provides a great counterweight to my blue-tinged ramblings. Come back! :)

My prediction is dependent upon the status of Sundquist. If he plays, I'll take the Raiders 3-2. If not, I'll take Hibbing 4-2.
"You can't triple stamp a double stamp." -Harry Dunn

rainier
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Post by rainier » Tue Dec 27, 2016 10:49 am

Here are the latest 7A rankings.
Overall record and 7A record are given for each team.

1. Hermantown- 5-1-1 (0-0) The Hawks dismembered TRF this week 9-0, and during their 5 game win streak they have outscored their opponents 33-3! They are heating up, and a QF game vs Bemidji at the Hilltopper Classic is next up. Should they beat the Jacks, then they play the winner of Delano/Cloquet.

2. Greenway- 8-1 (5-1) The Raiders had a great week, as they beat Eveleth 6-3, then took down Hibbing 3-2, a win even more impressive given that top forward Troumbly didn’t play due to injury. With the win, Greenway is firmly in the driver’s seat for the #2 seed, given their road win over EGF is better than any win Hibbing has thus far. As long as they avoid any bad losses, they should be in line to be the home team in the 7A semis.
The Raiders host Alexandria, New Ulm, and Rosemount this week in the Perpich North-South Challenge.

3. Hibbing- 5-3 (2-1) The Bluejackets’ had a tough week, losing road games to Cloquet (5-1) and Greenway. Neither of these losses should hurt Hibbing chances at a top 3 seed come playoff time, but getting back to #2 will be very difficult. Greenway has a more difficult schedule than Hibbing the rest of the way, so as long as the Raiders hold serve against the lower 7A teams, even losses to top teams like GR, SPA, Hermantown, etc. won’t be held against them. Hibbing would have to pull a major upset vs GR or Herm in order to move back up to #2, IMO.

That said, Hibbing now needs to fend off Virginia and Eveleth in order to avoid a potential 7A semifinal matchup against Hermantown. Their first chance to do this will come this week, as after hosting New Ulm and Alexandria, the Bluejackets head to Virginia for their first game vs the Devils.

4. Virginia- 5-4 (3-1) The Blue Devils got pummeled by Cloquet 9-1 last week, and this week they host New Ulm, Alexandria, and Hibbing. It appears Seitz still has yet to return, so while his presence doesn’t turn them into a top A team, it certainly closes the gap with Hibbing and Greenway and separates them from Eveleth even more.

5. Eveleth- 4-5 (4-3) The Golden Bears lost to Greenway 6-3 in their only game of the week. They host a holiday tourney this week, with games vs Fox Cities, Austin, and Coon Rapids. They have already beaten teams 7,8,9, 10 in 7A, so 6 is likely the lowest they will end up, and with games vs Virginia and Hibbing still on the docket, they could yet make a move into the top 4.

Eveleth’s next 7 games are against non-7A teams, and then they finish the season with 7 straight games vs 7A foes.

6. North Shore- 5-1-1 (2-0) The Storm beat Hayward 4-3 and tied North Branch 2-2 this past week, and despite the good record, they stay behind Eveleth given the Bears have performed better vs common opponents. North Shore faces Red Lake Falls in the opening game of a holiday tourney this week.

7. Proctor-4-6 (1-2) The Rails suffered losses to Superior 6-1 and Princeton 6-0 this past week, and they now take part in the Eveleth tourney where they take on Coon Rapids, Austin, and Fox Cities.

8. Denfeld- 1-9 (0-3) The Hunters had a good week, as they kept it competitive with SC Cathedral 5-2 and then beat Superior 3-2 to finally get a W. This week they host a holiday tourney, as Sheboygan, Mankato West, and St. Louis Park all head up to Duluth.

9. I-Falls- 1-8 (0-4) The Broncos fell to Fort Frances 1-0 this week, and they now head to Warroad for a holiday tourney, where they play Osseo, Grafton, and Warroad.

10. Ely- 3-3 (0-2) The Wolves take on Legacy Christian in the opening round of the North Shore tourney.

7A Game of the Week: Hibbing at Virginia. Due to Bismarck canceling on the Perpich Challenge, Hibbing and Virginia scheduled each other to make up the lost game. This means that these teams will play each other three times during the regular season, and two of them will be in Virginia over the span of 13 days, with the first one being this Friday.

I am assuming Seitz is not playing for Virginia, so I will take Hibbing to win 5-2. Hibbing will have an advantage in this game because the Blue Devils play three games in a row (Wed-Th-Fri), while Hibbing will have Thursday off, so they should have much fresher legs going into the game.
"You can't triple stamp a double stamp." -Harry Dunn

greenwayraider
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Post by greenwayraider » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:36 am

As usual I can't find much to disagree with in your analysis. A Greenway win against Alexandria tonight will pretty much sew up the #2 seed. Goaltender Anick has shown to be a solid goaltender and made some great saves against Hibbing the other night. Hibbing's powerplay is impressive. My concerns with Greenway:

1. Too many penalties. This problem is rearing its ugly head again. Hopefully Clafton impresses on this team the need to avoid the penalty box like he did last year.
2. Defensemen take too many gambles at the blueline resulting in odd man rushes the other way. Hibbing had plenty of scoring chances on these odd man rushes.
3. The powerplay needs a lot of work. Too much passing around the perimeter. The use of the "umbrella" has not been productive. Hopefully they perfect or scrap it.

Good things about Greenway:
1. Their 100% effort from the opening whistle to the end of the game buzzzer. Their forecheck was relentless the last two periods against Hibbing.
2. Decent depth. The forwards are a mixed bag as far as skills. Some are quick, some are clever and some are very physical. A couple of the good football players are starting to get into their hockey mode now and give the team a strong physical presence.

Clafton has been mixing the lines because of injuries and he does like to try to find the best combinations. He settled on lines toward the end of January last year and will probably follow this approach this year.

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Post by karl(east) » Tue Dec 27, 2016 12:35 pm

Were Lantz and Troumbly on a line together for the Hibbing-Greenway rematch last week?

greenwayraider
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Post by greenwayraider » Tue Dec 27, 2016 12:46 pm

No, Troumbly had a foot injury he suffered in practice so he did not play.
Last edited by greenwayraider on Tue Dec 27, 2016 12:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Rocketwrister
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Post by Rocketwrister » Tue Dec 27, 2016 12:48 pm

Good analysis / section summary's so far! It surprises me how far Denfeld has fallen. I know they graduated some numbers, but why can't they pull in more kids from the youth levels? Do other teams in the section have this issue? Is it time for a change at the top?

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Post by greenwayraider » Tue Dec 27, 2016 12:56 pm

Scheduling note for Greenway. Greenway has added Rosemount for a game on Thursday (Bismarck backed out) and added Little Falls as a result of the games cancelled with Breck/Rochester Lourdes because of the weather.

rainier
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Post by rainier » Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:21 pm

Rocketwrister wrote:Good analysis / section summary's so far! It surprises me how far Denfeld has fallen. I know they graduated some numbers, but why can't they pull in more kids from the youth levels? Do other teams in the section have this issue? Is it time for a change at the top?
I know Denfeld and Proctor suffer losses to Hermantown, East, and Marshall. While Denfeld has been able to keep some top players in recent years such as Talarico and the hundreds of Thompson boys, the last few years of relevancy came because they had good players come in. Transfers from Cloquet, Marshall, and Edina have been some of their top players the past few seasons. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, it just is what it is.

Change at the top? I would say no, I think Smalley does a good job. My only issue with him was two years ago when Denfeld was a top ten A team and he refused to move up one of his second line forwards up to the top line to play with Michaud and McClure, choosing instead to try a bunch of painfully mediocre kids. He had Budisalovich, DeCaro, and Shykes on the second line, all solid players. What he ended up with were two above average lines that weren't potent enough to threaten Hermantown or Marshall, instead of an excellent top line and a second line that could still compete with most other teams' second lines. I'll never understand it.

Denfeld does seem to have some decent youth teams going right now, so if they keep their talent they should get back into the top 4 soon.
"You can't triple stamp a double stamp." -Harry Dunn

elliott70
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Post by elliott70 » Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:34 pm

Not sure I would be ready to give #2 seed to Greenway just yet.

rainier
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Post by rainier » Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:10 pm

elliott70 wrote:Not sure I would be ready to give #2 seed to Greenway just yet.
I agree it is early, and a lot could and likely will happen before playoffs, but looking at Hibbing and Greenway's schedules, it's hard to see how Greenway doesn't get the #2 seed without having at least one bad loss. The head-to-head results are a total wash at this point, as Hibbing was clearly the better team in their 5-1 home win, and Greenway was clearly better in their 3-2 home win.

Common opponents:
Alex
Hermantown
GR
I-Falls
Virginia
Superior
LF
New Ulm

Differing opponents:
Greenway-SPA, Duluth Marshall, Minneapolis, SP Johnson, North Shore
Hibbing-EGF, TRF, Warroad, Mayo, Alb. Lea, Proctor, Eveleth

Barring a bad loss to I-Falls, LF, Superior, NU, etc., I think the only way Greenway falls to #3 is if they lose to Virginia and Hibbing beats Virginia all three times they meet this year, or Hibbing would have to upset Hermantown or GR, which is highly, highly unlikely.

It's also possible that Hibbing could consistently perform better against common opponents the rest of the way, but I guess I feel the section coaches will reward Greenway for really upping the difficulty of their schedule this year, as they should.
"You can't triple stamp a double stamp." -Harry Dunn

Rocketwrister
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Post by Rocketwrister » Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:14 pm

rainier wrote:
Rocketwrister wrote:Good analysis / section summary's so far! It surprises me how far Denfeld has fallen. I know they graduated some numbers, but why can't they pull in more kids from the youth levels? Do other teams in the section have this issue? Is it time for a change at the top?
I know Denfeld and Proctor suffer losses to Hermantown, East, and Marshall. While Denfeld has been able to keep some top players in recent years such as Talarico and the hundreds of Thompson boys, the last few years of relevancy came because they had good players come in. Transfers from Cloquet, Marshall, and Edina have been some of their top players the past few seasons. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, it just is what it is.

Change at the top? I would say no, I think Smalley does a good job. My only issue with him was two years ago when Denfeld was a top ten A team and he refused to move up one of his second line forwards up to the top line to play with Michaud and McClure, choosing instead to try a bunch of painfully mediocre kids. He had Budisalovich, DeCaro, and Shykes on the second line, all solid players. What he ended up with were two above average lines that weren't potent enough to threaten Hermantown or Marshall, instead of an excellent top line and a second line that could still compete with most other teams' second lines. I'll never understand it.

Denfeld does seem to have some decent youth teams going right now, so if they keep their talent they should get back into the top 4 soon.
That's for insight Rainier. I was just curious if getting new blood in would keep some youth players for Denfeld, maybe a kid or 2 comes in. Maybe smalley was to busy talking about how good his team was and wasn't paying attention to his line combos? :lol:

elliott70
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Post by elliott70 » Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:20 pm

Yes, I follow your logic.
My thinking is that Hibbing beat Gway by more.
Hibbing's only losses at this time are to good AA teams.
Gway barely got by Eveleth, Virginia and Denfeld.

Head to head Hibbing has the advantage.
Other games Hibbing's losses are to quality teams.
Greenway has a quality win over EGF.

Looks too close to call at this point.

But that is just me...
you are in the backyard over there...
that's why I enjoy your posts.

At the end of the year when the coaches put Hibbing at #2 you can send me a nice bottle of Scotch....

rainier
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Post by rainier » Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:29 pm

elliott70 wrote:Yes, I follow your logic.
My thinking is that Hibbing beat Gway by more.
Hibbing's only losses at this time are to good AA teams.
Gway barely got by Eveleth, Virginia and Denfeld.

Head to head Hibbing has the advantage.
Other games Hibbing's losses are to quality teams.
Greenway has a quality win over EGF.

Looks too close to call at this point.

But that is just me...
you are in the backyard over there...
that's why I enjoy your posts.

At the end of the year when the coaches put Hibbing at #2 you can send me a nice bottle of Scotch....
LOL, if I remember correctly you were one of the few people that predicted Denfeld would get the #3 seed over Greenway last year, so I have to respect your wisdom.

True, Roseau and Cloquet have both been coming on, so those losses shouldn't hurt Hibbing at all come seeding time. Given how Hibbing-Greenway each won at home in their matchup, getting the #2 seed may be very important. And I'm certainly not ruling out Virginia yet, as their best player has been out and the bulk of their talent is sophomores, so they still have a lot of room for growth.
"You can't triple stamp a double stamp." -Harry Dunn

rainier
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Post by rainier » Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:35 pm

Rocketwrister wrote:
rainier wrote:
Rocketwrister wrote:Good analysis / section summary's so far! It surprises me how far Denfeld has fallen. I know they graduated some numbers, but why can't they pull in more kids from the youth levels? Do other teams in the section have this issue? Is it time for a change at the top?
I know Denfeld and Proctor suffer losses to Hermantown, East, and Marshall. While Denfeld has been able to keep some top players in recent years such as Talarico and the hundreds of Thompson boys, the last few years of relevancy came because they had good players come in. Transfers from Cloquet, Marshall, and Edina have been some of their top players the past few seasons. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, it just is what it is.

Change at the top? I would say no, I think Smalley does a good job. My only issue with him was two years ago when Denfeld was a top ten A team and he refused to move up one of his second line forwards up to the top line to play with Michaud and McClure, choosing instead to try a bunch of painfully mediocre kids. He had Budisalovich, DeCaro, and Shykes on the second line, all solid players. What he ended up with were two above average lines that weren't potent enough to threaten Hermantown or Marshall, instead of an excellent top line and a second line that could still compete with most other teams' second lines. I'll never understand it.

Denfeld does seem to have some decent youth teams going right now, so if they keep their talent they should get back into the top 4 soon.
That's for insight Rainier. I was just curious if getting new blood in would keep some youth players for Denfeld, maybe a kid or 2 comes in. Maybe smalley was to busy talking about how good his team was and wasn't paying attention to his line combos? :lol:
I don't know what his thinking was. That situation just stuck with me because Hibbing was a distant 4th in the section that year, so I was pulling for Denfeld to beat Marshall and/or Hermantown, and it killed me watching Michaud and McClure have to carry the load for their inadequate linemate.

The craziest thing about that season is that Marshall would have been right there with Hermantown, but Dow transferred to East and McClure transferred to Denfeld that year. Not that I ever really wanted to root for Marshall, but they legitimately could have toppled the Hawks had those kids stayed.
"You can't triple stamp a double stamp." -Harry Dunn

elliott70
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Post by elliott70 » Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:36 pm

rainier wrote:
elliott70 wrote:Yes, I follow your logic.
My thinking is that Hibbing beat Gway by more.
Hibbing's only losses at this time are to good AA teams.
Gway barely got by Eveleth, Virginia and Denfeld.

Head to head Hibbing has the advantage.
Other games Hibbing's losses are to quality teams.
Greenway has a quality win over EGF.

Looks too close to call at this point.

But that is just me...
you are in the backyard over there...
that's why I enjoy your posts.

At the end of the year when the coaches put Hibbing at #2 you can send me a nice bottle of Scotch....
LOL, if I remember correctly you were one of the few people that predicted Denfeld would get the #3 seed over Greenway last year, so I have to respect your wisdom.

True, Roseau and Cloquet have both been coming on, so those losses shouldn't hurt Hibbing at all come seeding time. Given how Hibbing-Greenway each won at home in their matchup, getting the #2 seed may be very important. And I'm certainly not ruling out Virginia yet, as their best player has been out and the bulk of their talent is sophomores, so they still have a lot of room for growth.
Just keep the good stuff coming...
Most of my wisdom I steal...

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Post by greenwayraider » Tue Dec 27, 2016 7:23 pm

Word is the Grant Troumbly is out for the remainder season. Shattered ankle.

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Post by elliott70 » Tue Dec 27, 2016 7:55 pm

greenwayraider wrote:Word is the Grant Troumbly is out for the remainder season. Shattered ankle.

Let's hope it is rumor.

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Post by greenwayraider » Tue Dec 27, 2016 8:42 pm

Unfortunately it's been confirmed. Troumbly is out for the season.

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