Class A section breakdown

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Class A section breakdown

Post by Stang5280 » Wed Mar 17, 2021 3:54 pm

Given the lack of depth in Class A, these aren't particularly exciting, but let's give it a go anyway.

Section 1A
1. Dodge County
2. Mankato East
3. Mankato West
4. Faribault
5. Albert Lea
6. Rochester Lourdes
7. Minnesota River
8. Waseca
9. Winona
10. La Crescent
11. Austin

This section is very much a two-team race, with Dodge County and Mankato East on a collision course for the final. The two met on Feb. 13, and the Wildcats prevailed 4-3 in overtime.

Of the others, West's record looks impressive on the surface, but they faded hard down the stretch and lost twice to East by a 10-0 total. Faribault is probably the most frisky of this bunch and at least has some upset potential.

Prediction: Dodge County over Mankato East

Section 2A
1. Breck School
2. Delano
3. Southwest Christian
4. Minneapolis
5. Providence Academy
6. Orono
7. Armstrong/Cooper
8. Mound Westonka
9. Bloomington Kennedy
(Waconia out)

This is perhaps the deepest section, or at least has the most parity. The top three are a notch above the rest, but each could also fail to make it out of the quarterfinals. Top seed Breck defeated all of the five teams ranked behind it, though most were extremely close contests. Delano is probably the consensus favorite; the Tigers are the most deep and talented, and finished on a 7-0-1 streak. SWCR played a limited section schedule, but has a few nice wins and nearly knocked off Breck in the final week.

Minneapolis and Providence each had decent seasons shortened by Covid, and the winner will pose a threat in the semis. Orono and Mound Westonka have talent and played well early before fading down the stretch. Armstrong/Cooper is a true mystery, as they didn't play anyone in the section and only faced AA competition.

Prediction: Delano over Breck

Section 3A
1. Hutchinson
2. Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato
3. New Ulm
4. Windom
5. Willmar
6. Redwood Valley
7. Luverne
8. Marshall
9. Worthington
10. Fairmont

The top three here are a large step above the rest. Hutch is the favorite, but had a tie and one-goal win against LDC, and narrowly escaped New Ulm in the season finale. New Ulm dropped a 2-1 decision to LDC in week two, but probably outplayed the Dragons in the latter stages of the season.

The only other team worth noting is Windom, who had one of the best regular seasons in program history, but is unlikely to challenge Hutchinson.

Prediction: Hutchinson over New Ulm

Section 4A
1. Gentry Academy
2. Mahtomedi
3. Tartan
4. St. Paul Johnson
5. St. Paul Highland Park
6. South St. Paul
7. St. Paul Academy
8. Red Wing
9. Henry Sibley
(Simley out)

This is another two-team section, and that may even be generous. Gentry has dominated the competition all season, even if the level of difficulty wasn't especially high. On the other hand, Mahtomedi struggled against a brutal schedule, with probably the best wins being Breck and Delano. The Zephyrs are heavily reliant on their goaltending, stellar as it may be, and scoring is at a premium.

Tartan is probably the only other team that could upset the apple cart. The Titans gave Mahtomedi a tough game a few weeks ago, ultimately falling 5-4.

Prediction: Gentry over Mahtomedi

Section 5A
1. Monticello
2. Northern Lakes
3. Cambridge-Isanti
4. Chisago Lakes
5. St. Francis
6. Pine City
7. Sauk Rapids
8. North Branch
9. Mora
10. Princeton
11. Becker-Big Lake
12. Moose Lake
(North Branch out)

Ugh, do we really have to do this? This section has been a mess all season long and finished with no teams in the rankings. Monticello is the favorite yet again; after a midseason swoon they finished with four straight section wins, including a victory over Northern Lakes and a rout of St. Francis. Northern Lakes has the big win over Little Falls, but fell to Cambridge and Monticello afterward.

Cambridge-Isanti and Chisago Lakes are the other two teams to watch. The Bluejackets were terribly inconsistent; they own victories over Monticello and NL, but closed out the season with losses to St. Francis and putrid Princeton. Chisago faltered late, but did tie Monticello and defeat Cambridge and Minneapolis.

Prediction: Northern Lakes over Monticello

Section 6A
1. Little Falls
2. Fergus Falls
3. Alexandria
4. Sartell
5. St. Cloud Cathedral
6. Morris/Benson
7. River Lakes
8. Wadena
9. Prairie Centre
10. Breckenridge-Wahpeton
(River Lakes and Wadena out)

This has probably been the most entertaining section, with the top four teams being ranked essentially the whole season and playing competitive games against one another. The top two seeds are ranked in the top 10 and have played the most consistently strong hockey. Little Falls recently defeated Fergus by a 4-3 count, and their only blemish within the section is a tie with Alexandria. The Otters lost to Alex to start the season, then won 12 straight, including two over Sartell and one over Alex, prior to dropping two in the final week.

Alexandria was 4-1-1 in section, with the aforementioned FF win and LF tie, along with two victories over Sartell. The Cards crumbled late in the season and were pummeled by likely semifinal opponent Fergus in the second meeting. Sartell finished strong, but was 0-5 against the three teams above them. The upset potential is definitely there, though.

Prediction: Little Falls over Fergus Falls

Section 7A
1. Hermantown
2. Duluth Denfeld
3. Hibbing
4. Virginia
5. Eveleth
6. Greenway
7. International Falls
8. North Shore
9. Proctor
10. Ely
(Ely out)

The story is always the same: can anyone beat Hermantown? It's very unlikely this season, and the Hawks may not even have a competitive game. Denfeld is the only team with a shot, though the second meeting between the teams resulted in a 9-3 drubbing. Even with Hermantown at less than full strength, Denfeld will basically need to play a perfect game to beat them.

The #3 through 6 seeds are all tightly bunched and traded wins over one another all season. Those quarterfinals should be entertaining. That said, Hibbing emerged from the fray down the stretch and gave Denfeld a scare, so they are the most likely lower seed to make some noise.

Prediction: Hermantown over Denfeld

Section 8A (update with seeds)
1. Warroad
2. East Grand Forks
3. Thief River Falls
4. Kittson County Central
5. Red Lake Falls
6. Crookston
7. Lake of the Woods
8. Bagley/Fosston
9. Park Rapids
(Detroit Lakes out)

The seeds aren't out quite yet, but let's be honest: the top two teams are head and shoulders above the rest, and you can write their names in pen to meet in the final. EGF and Warroad split during the regular season, with the Warriors taking the more recent meeting by a 4-2 count. The Green Wave have the most high-end talent of any Class A team, but the defense and goaltending have been a problem all year, and Warroad's depth disadvantage is lessened during a playoff game.

Prediction: Warroad over EGF

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