Class A Rankings for 3.14.21

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Class A Rankings for 3.14.21

Post by Stang5280 » Sun Mar 14, 2021 6:38 pm

From snowy Denver, I present to you the final rankings for the 2021 season. Despite some hurdles along the way, we made it to the end of the regular season, even if it seemed like a slog with all of the recent cancellations. The top portions of the rankings remained relatively stable, while the revolving door theme continued right to the very end in the final five or so spots. Enjoy the rankings, and onward to the playoffs.

1. Hermantown (16-1-0) [LW 1]
W 4-1 vs Duluth East, W 6-1 vs Cloquet
The Hawks recorded two methodical wins over 7AA competition in the final week, and enter the section playoffs as overwhelming favorites to represent 7A at state. The East victory came at a steep price, however, as star forward Zam Plante was injured on a nasty hit from behind and is almost certainly done for the season. East also had a positive Covid test, which seemingly led to cancellation of the Gentry game. On a brighter note, Lund and Pionk stepped up nicely, and Pierce appears ready to go for the playoffs.

2. Gentry Academy (13-0-0) [LW 2]
W 16-0 @ Minnehaha
The biggest news came off the ice with the cancellation of the Hermantown contest, and the Southwest Christian game ended up being scrubbed as well. The dismantling of downtrodden Minnehaha ended up being Gentry's only game action between their Covid quarantine and the start of the playoffs. They will be the top seed in 4A and on a collision course with Mahtomedi, their only real hurdle standing in the way of a trip to the Xcel Center.

3. Warroad (11-4-2) [LW 3]
W 3-1 vs Little Falls
In their only action of the final week, the Warriors slowly tracked down their prey after finishing the first period down 1-0. Jayson Shaugabay ripped rope twice on the power play in the second period, and assisted on the final goal. Warroad finished the season on a four-game winning streak, and prevailed in six of their final seven, including a win over EGF that will install them as the top seed in 8A.

4. East Grand Forks (10-8-0) [LW 4]
W 6-2 vs TRF, W 5-3 @ Kittson, W 5-3 vs Roseau
It wasn't always pretty, much like their season as a whole, but the Green Wave swept their final week to finish above .500. Somehow an empty net goal was needed to put away both KCC and Roseau by identical counts. EGF did manage to take the season series with the Rams by a 2-1 count thanks in large part to two tallies from Landon Parker, who also scored four times against TRF. For all of the the frustrations the Wave heaped upon their fans, they still have a cakewalk to the 8A final and a good shot at returning to St. Paul after a brief hiatus.

5. Mahtomedi (10-6-1) [LW 5]
W 10-1 vs SSP, W 5-4 vs Tartan, W 5-0 @ Johnson
The Zephyrs collected three section victories, though not without some adventure. The Tartan result is particularly worrisome; Mahtomedi was pushed to the wire, and allowed more goals than any opponent other than Hill-Murray (a 5-2 loss). For comparison, Gentry easily toppled the Titans by an 8-0 count. The Zephyrs are scheduled to face STA Monday prior to starting their playoff run.

6. Little Falls (10-4-1) [LW 8]
W 4-3 vs Fergus Falls, L 1-3 @ Warroad
The Flyers are rounding into form following their Covid confinement, starting off the week by sinking the Otters and taking the top perch in 6A. Little Falls put up a valiant effort against Warroad, but ultimately their constant parade to the sin bin did them in. This section has proven to be the one of the most competitive in Class A, and even the limited benefit of home ice advantage may be helpful.

7. Delano (11-6-1) [LW 7]
W 5-1 @ Chanhassen, W 4-3 (OT) vs Chaska
The Tigers finished off their regular season in style, successfully squashing two 2AA foes. The Chaska game was an entertaining affair, with the two teams trading goals until Adam Brown ended things in bonus time. Delano finished on a 7-0-1 run, which is very reminiscent of their past few seasons. This is a deep, balanced squad poised to make another run to state. They have a battle on their hands as the second seed, though, with an inconsistent but motivated Armstrong/Cooper as the opening opposition.

8. Fergus Falls (13-3-0) [LW 6]
L 3-4 @ Little Falls, W 9-2 vs Willmar, L 4-5 (OT) @ Bemidji
The Otters were brought back to earth after riding into the final week on a 12-game winning streak. Fergus staked out an early edge against Little Falls, but couldn't survive the eventual onslaught of shots. The Otters shot themselves in the foot versus Bemiy by taking a penalty at the end of regulation, and the Jacks promptly ended things. Special teams were a problem the whole week, as they surrendered five power play goals and one shorthanded. Still, Fergus Falls enters the postseason as the #2 seed and is staring at a likely semifinal showdown with Alexandria.

9. Duluth Denfeld (8-4-1) [LW 9]
L 3-4 vs Cloquet, W 6-0 vs Greenway
The Hunters had a rather disappointing week, falling to a mediocre Cloquet crew and missing out on a second shot at crosstown nemesis East, whom they still have not defeated in several seasons. The Greenway win was a nice bounce back, as Denfeld took control early and never let the Raiders into the game. Denfeld faces Grand Rapids Monday in a game that is likely to be an ugly loss, then kicks off the postseason Saturday as the #2 seed in 7A.

10. Dodge County (14-3-1) [LW 10]
W 3-0 vs Chisago, W 4-2 @ Century, W 4-0 vs Waseca
An uneventful yet also uncharacteristic week for the Wildcats, who ground out three low-scoring victories. That seems like a positive sign for their oft-maligned defense and goaltending. Brody Lamb "only" had six points on the week, leaving him three short of Kyle Kukkonen for the regular season scoring title, though his 34 goals easily topped the state. Dodge County is the top seed in 1A for the second straight season, though they will be aiming for much better results than last year's semifinal exit.

11. Breck (13-5-0) [LW 11]
W 5-4 @ SW Christian, W 4-1 @ Orono, W 8-5 @ Minnehaha
The Mustangs earned two critical section triumphs and sealed up the top spot in 2A in the process. It also concludes Breck's best regular season since 2016-17. The Mustangs survived a wild third period against Southwest Christian after giving away an early three-goal lead; they left no such doubt Friday, stymying Orono in all respects. While not especially deep, Breck features the section's most prolific scorer (Courneya), a terrific top defensive pairing, and two solid goalies, which is potentially enough to navigate a mediocre section. (Assuming nothing weird happens like the Minnehaha finale).

12. Southwest Christian/Richfield (11-5-0) [LW 14]
L 4-5 vs Breck, W 6-0 vs SSP
The Stars outplayed Breck for long stretches and doubled up the Mustangs in the shot department, but couldn't coax a victory. Nonetheless, SWCR enters the 2A playoffs as a dangerous #3, which is by far the highest seed in the program's brief history. The Stars will square off with a talented but enigmatic Orono bunch in hopes of reaching their first-ever section semifinal.

13. Mankato East (12-3-0) [LW 12]
W 18-0 @ Austin, L 1-3 @ Mayo, W 7-0 vs Albert Lea
The Cougars apparently used up all of their goals versus poor Austin, as they fell flat Thursday against a Mayo team that has been decent of late. East bounced back to knock off a mildly frisky Albert Lea group for some modicum of momentum heading into the playoffs, where they will be the #2 seed in 1A. Much like Dodge County, they rely heavily on the top line, and Liffrig finished third in the state in scoring, just behind Lamb.

14. Sartell-St. Stephen (10-7-0) [LW 19]
W 12-1 vs Willmar, W 8-1 vs SCC, W 7-0 @ Wadena
The Sabres opened the scoring floodgates this week, piling up goals on three helpless opponents. Hayden Walters pumped in eight goals, including four against the Crusaders, and now has at least one goal in ten straight games. The Cathedral contest was impressive, as Sartell took control early with three tallies in the first four minutes and never let off the gas. Those two teams will meet again Friday in the section quarterfinals.

15. Providence Academy (9-4-0) [LW NR]
W 5-4 (OT) @ Johnson, W 5-4 (OT) vs Hopkins
The Lions enter the rankings for the first time this season, and I believe for the first time in my history of doing this exercise, courtesy of a pair of overtime triumphs by identical counts. Providence won their final three contests, and six of their last eight since their Covid pause, with the only setbacks coming at the hands of Breck and Holy Angels. This is a young squad, led in scoring by diminutive sophomore Johnny Hendrickson. They enter the 2A quarterfinals Thursday in a 4/5 matchup with Minneapolis.

16. Hutchinson (10-6-2) [LW 13]
L 1-2 vs Orono, L 4-6 vs Chanhassen, W 3-2 @ New Ulm
The Tigers faded down the stretch with three straight defeats, including a baffling loss to Chanhassen, but came through in the clutch Saturday to claim the top spot in 3A. Hutch dominated the early going, and twice opened up two-goal cushions, then held off the Eagles' late charge. That victory keeps them away from a likely difficult 2/3 matchup and, barring a major upset, they won't see LDC or New Ulm until the section final.

17. Alexandria (8-9-1) [LW 17]
L 2-4 @ Bemidji, W 3-2 vs Brainerd, L 3-6 @ St. Cloud
The Cardinals are a mess right now. The fact that Alex remains steady in the rankings speaks more to the paucity of other options than to anything they did. The results aren't terrible, and in fact the Brainerd win is solid, but that win came at a cost. A postgame fracas culminated in 11 suspensions, including five Cardinals, and Alex was lucky to secure the St. Cloud game on short notice so the impacted players could serve their suspensions prior to the playoffs. Thanks to their 4-1-1 section record, the Cards grabbed the #3 seed and will tangle with Morris/Benson on Friday. Given the recent chaos, I could see any result from flaming out in the quarterfinals to winning the section.

18. Minneapolis (7-4-0) [LW 16]
Minneapolis had their second straight week of games wiped out due to Covid. However, they managed to grab the fourth seed in 2A, and will do battle with Providence, as noted above. We'll see how the layoff impacts their readiness for the postseason, as most teams have taken a few games to shake off the rust.

Next: Mon @ Bemidji, Thu vs Brainerd, Sat @ St. Cloud

19. New Ulm (15-3-0) [LW NR]
W 4-0 @ Marshall, W 11-2 @ Worthington, L 2-3 vs Hutch
Yes, the schedule has been soft, and the Eagles stumbled in all three games outside of Big South play. But two of the losses were the first contests of the season, versus Southwest Christian and LDC, and I would favor New Ulm against the Dragons now given their respective recent play. The Eagles made Hutch work for their win in the finale, and actually looked like the better team during extended portions of the final two periods. As the #3 in 3A, New Ulm opens with Redwood Valley ahead of an expected Saturday showdown with the aforementioned LDC.

20. Hibbing/Chisholm (10-6-1) [LW NR]
W 6-2 vs Proctor, W 7-1 vs North Shore, W 4-3 vs Virginia
Lastly, we have the champion of the Iron Range Conference and the third seed in 7A. The Saturday conquest of Virginia sealed both of those outcomes. Hibbing was streaky during the season, and reeled off four straight wins to close things out. If the Bluejackets can survive their quarterfinal matchup, they will likely face a Denfeld squad whom they battled to a tight 4-2 loss a few weeks ago. (Though there is word that Hibbing's season may be done due to Covid, which would be unfortunate.)

Out: Northern Lakes, Thief River Falls, Detroit Lakes

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