By frederick 61
Not all “change” is good in hockey. The nature of the sport as it is played today has an economic component that effects associations and their ability to compete. Perhaps there is a good change brewing in the north, on the range and in Duluth. The association teams in the North have struggled the past few years because of that economic component, but there maybe the start of a small step forward. A few more associations are playing peewee A and they are doing better. It maybe a sign of a youth hockey re-bound in the northern part of this states economy.
On ice this week was the Spirit of Duluth tourney, the Moorhead tourney, the Owatonna tourney, the Detroit Lakes tourney and the Albert Lea tourney. A total of 56 peewee A teams entered from all bordering states and Canada. And everybody thought it was just an average boring December weekend before Christmas. Don’t they know that Christmas is nice restful two day pause in the hockey season?
A question asked last week is there the start of a change from the “old guard” peewee A teams to a “new guard”. Some “new guard teams” like Orono and Highland came through continuing to play well. Others were upended. But that scenario continues this week with some interesting games.
North Region - They have nine state high school appearances since the state tourney started. The last was in 2001. They took third place and looked to be one of the premier small town hockey programs in the state. Now the key things to the Greenway Raiders high school team maybe the fact that they are actually Greenway/Nashwauk and their growth in their youth program. Nashwauk is a key because between the two towns, a new mining to steel plant is being built unless the environmentalists can find a “snail darter” living amongst the taconite tailings. Growth in their youth program is a key because without it, the local authorities would have ended the high school program this year.
Those keys plus the dedication of some Greenway supporters saved the program this year. They kept the high school program alive or it would have been Grand Rapids/Greenway. To the non-Iron Ranger, that would be akin to an Edina/Eden Prairie merger.
For the first time in a few years, Greenway is skating peewee A. They are competitive in D12 and could make the North regional. But the Raiders did not skate in the Spirit of Duluth tourney last week.
The Spirit was not billed as pre-cursor to the North this year. It should have been. The D11 and D12 teams entered struggled in pool play and the top two (and only two) D2 teams entered prevailed. Stillwater won their pool and lost to Wayzata in the Championship game. White Bear Lake didn’t lose a game (one win and two ties) in their pool, but Mpls Park edged the Bears out.
The four Minnesota D11 teams had a collective 3-4-1 record in pool play. The two D2 teams had a 5-1-2 record in the tourney. The single D2 loss was in the championship game. But that’s stats. There is always opportunity in peewees. And next week, there is opportunity for D11 and D12 teams. One of the better D2 teams, Roseville, tours D11/D12 this weekend.
D11 - Last weekend in Hermantown’s tourney, four D11 teams squared off in the semifinals. This weekend, five D11 teams played in the Spirit. None made it to the semis. In pool play, the Duluth Lakers lost to Blaine 3-2, lost to Osseo/Maple Grove 5-1, and beat Minnetonka 3-2. Duluth East lost to Stillwater 10-2, beat Grand Rapids 4-0 and played Orono. Cloquet beat Hermantown 4-2, tied White Bear Lake 2-2 and beat Mpls Park 5-4. Hermantown lost to Cloquet, tied White Bear Lake 3-3 and lost to Mpls Park 10-0.
Standings for D11 peewee A may not show up until February. D11 teams play each other often and it is a guess as what game is a league versus non-league game. Today it appears that Duluth East leads having gone 2-0-1 in their first three games. Because of ties and “unfairplay” points, the Lakers, Cloquet and Hermantown could be second. Proctor, fielding their first peewee A team in a few years, trails.
Duluth East heads for Grand Rapids this week to play in the Star of the North. The Hounds draw Greenway in what could prove to be an interesting game. The Duluth Lakers have two D11 games this week, Superior and Cloquet. Cloquet entertains Roseau this week in addition to playing the Lakers. Proctor played in the Detroit Lakes tourney last week. This week the Rails play Hibbing, Eveleth and a D11 game with Hermantown.
Duluth East keeps the #1 seed this week. They should have a good Grand Rapids tourney. Cloquet takes the #2 spot. They played tough in the Spirit. The Duluth Lakers lost two close games in the Spirit and had a quality win over Minnetonka. That gives the Lakers the #3 seed.
D12 - Hibbing hosted their tourney last weekend. They played Greenway, beat Virginia, and beat Irondale 5-0. That was enough to get them to the championship game on Sunday. The Bluejackets beat Irondale again 7-0. Eveleth-Gilbert also had a good tourney. The Golden Bears lost to Irondale 4-0, beat Virginia 4-2, beat Greenway 5-4 and beat Virginia again 5-2 to take third in the tourney. International Falls traveled to Detroit Lakes last weekend to play in the Lakers tourney. The Falls lost to Crookston 7-2, River Lakes 4-3, and the Mandan Braves 5-1 before beating Wadena 11-1.
Grand Rapids played in the Spirit. They had a tough time in pool play, losing to Orono 5-2, Stillwater 4-0 and Duluth East 6-3. This week, they host their own tourney opening against a tough D3 team Hopkins. Burnsville and EGF are paired in the other side of the bracket. Duluth East takes on Greenway and Roseau plays International Falls in the lower bracket.
Hibbing struggled in this season up until they played in their tourney. That may have turned the Bluejackets around. Eveleth and Greenway played well in the same tourney while Virginia struggled. Grand Rapids continues to play a tough schedule and it doesn’t get any better in their tourney this weekend. They take the #1 seed. The Falls takes the #2 seed.
D2 - At the Spirit of Duluth tourney, White Bear Lake opened pool play beating Mpls Park 2-1, tying Hermantown 3-3, and tying Cloquet 2-2. But D2 rival, Stillwater bettered the Bears, beating Duluth East 10-2, Grand Rapids 4-0 and Orono and made the semis. A late Saturday win by Mpls Park, knocked the Bears out of a potential all D2 to semifinal against an all D3 semifinal. The Ponies took the D2 flag into the finals, beating Mpls Park before falling to Wayzata 8-4.
White Bear Lake played in the consolation semifinals, but lost to Orono
Sometimes when a team enters a tourney they get a second chance. Tartan opened the South St. Paul tourney with a 2-1 win over St. Francis. The Titans then lost to Cottage Grove 5-1. The Saint Paul Saints opened the same tourney with a 4-1 win over Red Wing. The Saints then lost to the host 4-1. Two weeks ago in D2 play, the Saints upset the Titans 2-0 for their first D2 win ever. On Sunday at Wakota, the Tartans avenged that loss beating the Saints 5-2. This week the Titans play Forest Lake, White Bear Lake and Roseville. After a slow start, the Titans have improved their record to .500 and hold a 2-1 win over a good Farmington team.
Roseville had a single game last week, losing to Forest Lake 4-3. This week, they take a break from D2 action and make a foray into D11/D12, playing Hibbing, Virginia, Cloquet and Hermantown and end the week playing the Titans. Mounds View lost Highland 3-0 and upended Mahtomedi 2-1 last week. This week the Mustangs take on Stillwater and Irondale in D2 action.
Forest Lake’s “make a move” was interrupted. After beating Roseville, the Lakers also lost to Highland 5-2. As a result of stringing three D2 wins together in the December, the Lakers have moved into third tied with Mahtomedi behind White Bear Lake and Stillwater. This week, the Lakers have a single D2 game with Tartan before action slows over the holidays.
North St. Paul played in Albert Lea’s tourney last weekend. The Polars played Faribault, New Ulm and beat Mason City 5-1 in pool play. They played Coon Rapids for the title. This week they have a single D2 game against White Bear Lake.
Mahtomedi beat the Saint Paul Saints 3-1, but lost a tough game to Mounds View that dropped them into a third place fight with Forest Lake. This week they head to the Fargo Shanley Cup Tourney hosted by the Fargo Angels. Mahtomedi draws Pembina Trail, the Fargo Angels, and Brandon in pool play.
There should be no debate about the #1 seed in D2 this week, Stillwater took second at the Spirit Tourney. But the Ponies lost to Hudson and to White Bear Lake a few days before they left for Duluth. The Bears did slightly better, tying Roseville. That makes it a coin flip, and that’s how the Ponies made the #1 seed this week. White Bear Lake takes the #2 seed. The third seed goes to Forest Lake.
East Region - Three teams have emerged from D6 halfway their regular season schedule. Edina, Burnsville and Eden Prairie have separated themselves from the rest of the league and will battle for the top two rungs in the league and the playoff byes that go with them. Over in D8, a small separation has emerged half way through their regular season. Woodbury and Lakeville South have opened a small lead over the rest of the field, but Rochester and Rosemount can still close that gap in the coming week. The top four teams get playoff byes in D8.
In D1, Mpls Park and Highland Central look tough. Mpls Park is in the title chase in D3 and Highland is unbeaten in D2 halfway through the Caps limited D2 schedule. The Storm made it to Sunday at the Spirit of Duluth tourney.
So are these the eight team East Regional field?
Teams in this region are preparing for the next big round of tourneys in two weeks. D6 is the host with the Bloomington tourney after Christmas and the Edina tourney on New Years Weekend. Eleven D6 and D8 teams will mix it up those two tourneys.
Edina plays St. Michael/Albertville this week and next week plays Highland. For STMA and Highland, it will be an interesting test. STMA is struggling since the Orono tourney, losing last week to Hutchinson. Highland continues to roll through D2.
D1 - Three of the four D1 teams played in tourneys last week. Mpls Park traveled to Duluth and made the Sunday championship round. The Storm lost their opener to White Bear Lake, but came back to beat Cloquet 5-4 and Hermantown 10-0 to take the pool. They lost to Stillwater 6-2 in the semifinals and lost to D3 rival Osseo/Maple Grove 3-2 in the third place game. The Storm returns home to play the Saint Paul Saints in D1 action this week.
Irondale traveled to Hibbing this past weekend and played in the Bluejackets tourney. The Knights beat Eveleth 4-0, beat Greenway 6-4, lost to Hibbing 7-0, beat Virginia 1-0 and lost to Hibbing in the championship game 5-0. The Saint Paul played in South St. Paul’s tourney this week beating Red Wing in the opener 4-1 before losing to South St. Paul 4-1 and Tartan 5-2 in the third place game. The Saints play Mpls Park and Coon Rapids this week.
Highland is now 4-0 in D2 adding wins over Mounds View and Forest Lake this week. The Caps have three or four games left depending on Stillwater forfeiting their game (the Ponies were a no show two weeks ago). The Caps have Mahtomedi, Roseville and North St. Paul left on their D2 schedule. Highland plays Irondale in D1 action and Eastview this week.
Highland Central keeps the #1 seed and the Storm takes the #2 seed. Despite a good performance at the Spirit (including a surprisingly easy victory over a good Hermantown team), the Storm will play second fiddle to the Caps until they meet. The Saints had a good tourney at South St. Paul and continue to improve. Irondale did well at Hibbing. Things still look good for the D1 teams.
D6 - In March 2007, Wayzata beat Apple Valley for the State Peewee A title at Tartan. Wayzata high school beat the Eagles 6-2 at the PIC last night. The Wayzata high school team play was powered by a senior line who were peewees in 2005. The Apple Valley team was powered by a sophomore/freshman line that lost that 2007 state championship game just 2 ½ years ago.
The Eagles could have used those guys last week as the Eagles lost D6 games to Eden Prairie 4-1 and to Burnsville 7-4. The Eagles are an improving team and this week they have a chance to shine in the New Ulm tourney. In pool play they draw St. Peter and Sioux Falls. St. Peter is coming off an upset win over New Prague and Sioux Falls has one of the better players in the region.
Edina continues to roll. The Hornets beat Eastview 5-1, the 97 Fire 5-3 (taking two of three games played with the Fire this year), Kennedy and Lakeville South 8-3. This week, the Hornets play STMA, Elk River and Eden Prairie. They have won 22 straight games since losing to Elks and Fire on Halloween weekend. Should their opponents start bringing treats to their locker room?
Burnsville won three D6 games last week. Besides beating Apple Valley, the Blaze beat Prior Lake/Savage 8-4 and Jefferson 6-3. They also beat two D8 teams Woodbury 6-1 and Farmington 4-1. The Blaze won’t return to D6 action until January 7th. They travel to Grand Rapids to play Grand Forks in the opening round of the Star of the North tourney in one of the more interesting games this week.
Burnsville has lost two D6 games and two “unfairplay” points and are a -6 in the D6 standings after playing 9 of 18 league games. Edina is perfect 0 after 8 games and Eden Prairie is -4 after 8 games. Burnsville has one game left with Edina and one game with Eden Prairie. Eden Prairie and Edina have yet to meet in D6 action, but that ends this week. EP beat Jefferson 4-2 last week in addition to Apple Valley. This week they play Minnetonka and Moorhead in addition to Edina.
Eastview plays Jefferson and Chaska in D6 action this week. They also play Highland (at St. Thomas on Saturday) in another interesting game. Jefferson also plays Chaska in D6 action. Kennedy beat Apple Valley and Jefferson in their last four D6 games, but unfortunately played Edina in the other two. But under those circumstances, .500 isn’t bad. This week they play Red Wing and one D6 game with Minnetonka before their “BIG” tourney. Kennedy and Jefferson host their Midwest Regional Tourney between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Forty four bantam and peewee teams are entered in four separate tourneys (A/B).
Minnetonka traveled to the Spirit as the only D6 entry. The Skippers upended Osseo/Maple Grove in the pool opener 4-0 and lost to the Duluth Lakers 3-2. Prior Lake plays Chaska, Centennial and Apple Valley this week.
For the past two years in D6, the “old guard” has reigned and this year is shaping up to be the same. The Hornets are a solid #1 seed this week. The Blaze are a solid #2 seed and Eden Prairie is a solid #3 seed. The only question is where are the Eagles during the holiday season? Normally they play in Edina’s tourney, but not this year.
D8 - Lakeville South played only one game this week, the Cougars made it a big one playing Edina at Mariucci. They lost 8-3. South starts a tough holiday schedule. They play Wayzata, a touring Moorhead team and Rosemount this week. Just before the Edina game at Mariucci, Woodbury played their third of four games in five days last week, beating an improving Hopkins team 5-3. They opened their stretch of games with a 6-1 loss to Burnsville and followed that with a 3-1 D8 win over Lakeville North. They ended the stretch by beating Sibley in another D8 game 4-1. The Royals also play Moorhead this week and follow that with two D8 against Farmington and Rosemount.
One problem with using Mariucci for youth hockey is the parking. If your practice or game is scheduled during an event, the parking lots around the arena charge $10 a spot.
Lakeville North bounced back from the Woodbury lost to beat Farmington 2-1. The Panthers are an improving team. They have a single game this week against Hastings. Farmington lost to Burnsville, played Hastings and Jefferson last week. The Tigers play Faribault and Stillwater in addition to Woodbury this week.
At the Moorhead tourney, Rochester beat Grafton North Dakota 10-6 and Buffalo 7-0 in pool play. In the championship round, they beat Moorhead 6-0 and Andover 7-0 to claim the title. Three straight shut outs and 30-6 scoring edge is impressive.
South St. Paul won their tourney last week. The Packers beat Spring Lake Park 7-3 in the opening round, the Saint Paul Saints 4-1 in the semifinals and D8 rival Cottage Grove 5-1 in the finals. This week, they entertain Eagan and Rochester in two D8 games. Cottage Grove beat Sibley 5-4 and Tartan 5-1 to get to the semifinals. Sibley lost a tough, overtime, shot out game to St. Francis 2-1 in the consolation semis.
Rosemount beat Eagan last week and play Hastings and Lakeville South this week. Rosemount, Eagan and Lakeville South will play in the Edina Tourney at the end of December. Rosemount, Centennial, Edina, and Osseo/Maple Grove are in one pool. Chaska, Stillwater, and Wayzata are pooled with Lakeville South. Eagan draws Elk River, Fargo and White Bear Lake.
Two Saturdays ago, Hudson upset Stillwater 2-0 and beat Hastings 3-2 in D8 action. That Stillwater win looks impressive for the Raiders with the Ponies finishing second in the Spirit of Duluth tourney this past Sunday. The Raiders had an off week, but this week they return to D8 action playing Rochester and Cottage Grove.
Red Wing had a tough tourney in South St. Paul, losing to the Saint Paul Saints 4-1 and Spring Lake Park 8-2. They play Cottage Grove, Kennedy and New Prague this week. Dodge County played took second place in the Owatonna Tourney. The Wildcats won their opener beating Luverne 6-4. They beat Owatonna 5-3 in the semifinal game before losing to the nationally ranked Kansas City Stars 6-0. Dodge County plays in the New Ulm tourney this week. They draw Mankato and MAML in opening round play. Northfield also played in the Owatonna tourney, losing their opening game to Sioux Falls 5-2 and to New Prague in consolation semis.
The seeds remain unchanged this week. Both Woodbury and Lakeville South stepped outside D8 and played tough competition. Both got beat. Woodbury won two D8 games this week and holds a two point edge in the standings over Lakeville South. Rosemount can make a statement this week. They play Lakeville South and Woodbury and those two wins would put the Irish on top. Rochester won the Moorhead tourney and gets the #3 seed this week. Rochester is definitely a team to be reckoned with in D8
South Region - D3 made a hugh statement in the Spirit of Duluth tourney. Wayzata took the title, Osseo/Maple Grove took third losing to Wayzata in the semifinals and Orono made it to the consolation title game. D4 teams struggled in their tourneys. New Prague took the consolation title at Owatonna and Albert Lea lost out to Mason City for third in their tourney. D5 Buffalo struggled at Moorhead placing 11th in a 12 team tourney. With three D3 seeds in this regional, it is beginning to look like a D3 battleground in March.
Orono has been ignored in the past, but their performance at the Spirit shows they can compete. D4 continues to struggle. The New Ulm tourney will be interesting for the D4 West teams this week. D5 remains a jumble. STMA lost to Hutchinson last week and takes on Edina this week. What a season in the South districts! The question remains, do these districts represent the “new guard” in peewee A hockey?
D3 - Wayzata took the Spirit this week. The Trojans rolled through everybody, beating Superior 5-1, Centennial 11-3, and Thunder Bay 9-6 in pool play. On championship Sunday, they beat D3 rival Osseo/Maple Grove 7-0 and Stillwater 8-4. Nobody came close. OMG was surprised in their opener by Minnetonka, losing 4-0, but they came back to beat the Duluth Lakers 5-1 and Blaine to take the pool. They beat Mpls Park for third place.
Orono’s only blemish in pool play at the Spirit was a 5-5 tie with Stillwater, but it was enough to knock the Spartan out of the championship round. They beat Grand Rapids 5-2 and Duluth East 7-4 in other pool games. In the consolation semis, the Spartans beat White Bear Lake 4-3 before losing to Thunder Bay 6-3.
The Royals lost to the Royals (or Hopkins lost to Woodbury last week). The Hopkins Royals also played Prior Lake. This week they host Wayzata and then head for the Grand Rapids tourney to play the host in the opening game. North Metro plays Wayzata and Armstrong this week. Armstrong also plays Mound/Westonka in a D3 game this week. Armstrong took a Western trip last weekend. They lost to Alexandria 5-1.
Wayzata rested two weeks ago and OMG took the #1 seed. Last week, the Trojans went to work and took the Spirit and the #1 seed back. Based on their performances in the Spirit and the fact that these two D3 teams have not met, the #2 seed is a coin flip between Orono and OMG. Out came the old zinc penny. Orono won the flip. The decision to flip two out of three was rejected by the “old hockey ghosts” peering over this writer’s shoulder. OMG takes the #3 seed in what is becoming a very tough district.
D4 - New Ulm has an interesting tourney this year. Twelve teams are entered. They are divided into four pools. One pool has Willmar, New Ulm, and Des Moines Iowa. The second pool has St. Peter, Apple Valley and Sioux Falls (the Flyers have one of the better players in the region this year). Mankato, MAML and Dodge County are in the third pool. Owatonna, Omaha Nebraska and Sartell are in the fourth pool. This looks like a tough tourney with a variety of teams.
New Prague played in their second tourney in two weeks and suffered the same fate the Trojans had in the first tourney. They played the eventual champion in the first game. At Owatonna, the Trojans lost the opening game to the Kansas City Stars 4-1. They skated hard in the first period out shooting the Stars two to one, but being outscored 2-1. The Stars gained momentum in the second period, adding a goal and won 4-1 on an empty netter. The Stars goalie played well, but the Trojans missed scoring opportunities close into the net. The Trojans went on to take consolation beating Northfield and beating Waterloo Iowa 6-2.
Owatonna beat Waterloo Iowa 3-2 to open their tourney, lost to Dodge County in the semis and played Sioux Falls for third place. The Huskies travel to New Ulm to play in their tourney this weekend. They play Sartell and Omaha in pool play. Luverne was the third D4 team in the tourney, they lost to Dodge County 6-4 and Waterloo Iowa.
At Albert Lea, the Tigers beat Austin and Waseca in pool play, but lost to Coon Rapids 10-2. In the third place game they lost to D4 rival Mason City Iowa 5-3. North St. Paul beat Coon Rapids to win the tourney. Faribault did well in the Albert Lea tourney. The Falcons beat New Ulm 7-5, pushed North St. Paul before losing 2-1, lost to Mason City 7-4 and beat Austin 8-0.
D4 has two divisions, East and West and the top two teams in each division qualify for the playoffs. Teams finishing third or lower must play-in for the third spot in the 6 team playoffs. New Prague took their first loss in D4, losing at St. Peter 8-3. That loss knotted the top three teams in the East (Faribault and Mason City with New Prague) at one loss each. Fortunately for Faribault and New Prague, Mason City does not qualify for the playoffs. These two teams should have a lock on the playoffs halfway through their season. Their nearest challengers (Albert Lea and Owatonna) have each lost 4 games, but Albert Lea has more “unfairplay” points and that maybe enough to keep the Tigers in the running for a top two spot.
Over in the West Division, Mankato beat St. Peter 9-7 last week to put the Mavericks in the driver set to win the West Division. They have yet to lose a game and that St. Peter win was their second D4 win over St. Peter this season. St. Peter could not afford a loss to New Prague after that losing to the Mavericks. They didn’t lose. With six games left in their D4 schedule, they look to be the favorite to take the #2 West spot come playoff time.
Their nearest challenger would either be New Ulm or Marshall. Marshall struggled in the Moorhead tourney last week losing to Andover, Fargo, and Brainerd, before coming back to beat the Dakota Lazers. They will have a chance this week to re-group against Waseca.
New Prague lost to St. Peter three days after Mankato beat St. Peter. This week the Mavericks take the #1 seed and New Prague takes the #2 seed. Faribault takes the #3 seed this week. Their close loss to North St. Paul shows that the Falcons are improving. St. Peter is threatening this top three and they will have their opportunity in the New Ulm tourney against Apple Valley and Sioux Falls.
D5 - Upsets seem to be the name of the game as an improving Hutchinson team beat STMA 3-2 last week. Hutchinson added D5 wins over Litchfield 8-4 and Willmar 8-2 to put them in first place in D5 halfway through the season. Sartell has only one loss, but has managed to lose 6 “unfairplay” points in eight games. That could hurt the Sabres if D5 has retained last year’s playoff format (regular league champ gets an automatic seed to the regionals).
The Sabres lost to Alexandria last weekend 5-4 and played Crow River. This week they play in New Ulm’s tourney drawing Omaha and Owatonna in pool play. Crow River plays Hutchinson and Buffalo in D5 games this week. STMA takes on Edina in a big game for the Knights this week. They also play Mound/Westonka and River Lakes. Mound/Westonka has two D3 games with Armstrong and Mpls Park this week. The White Hawks beat Willmar in D5 action last week.
Buffalo struggled at Moorhead last weekend. The Bison lost to Grafton 8-3, Rochester 7-0 before beating the Dakota Lazers 10-1 and Brainerd 5-1. They play Litchfield and Crow River this week.
There are numerous good teams in D5 this week. Hutchinson, Sartell, STMA, Crow River, Mound Westonka are some of them. But Hutchinson takes the #1 seed this week. They are on top and their win over STMA a good one. STMA takes the #2 seed, they take on Edina this week and that will be a big one. Sartell takes the #3 seed, but it could have been Crow River as well. Watch out for an improving Mound/Westonka and an always dangerous Buffalo.
West Region - This region looks to be dominated by two teams, Elk River and East Grand Forks. If these two teams take the #1 seed in their districts, they will be placed in the same regional pool (of four teams). If Bemidji takes the #2 D16 seed, they will be placed in a pool with the D15 #1 seed. That means Elk River and EGF would not have to play each other to get to the state. It also means that Bemidji if they won their pool would have to beat the loser of Elk River/EGF game to get to the state. Interesting?
D10 - Elk River looks to be the dominant team in D10 and in this region this year. The Elks have a single loss to Wayzata this year and have beaten Edina. The rest of the D10 teams have all struggled until Andover showed up to challenge the Elks. A D10 game last week to determine who is best in the D10 Blue Division between these two teams ended in an unsatisfactory 3-3 tie. The question remains, do the Elks have a real challenger.
Andover went on last weekend to play in Moorhead’s tourney. They did well beating a tough Fargo team 6-4, Marshall, Littleton Colorado 8-3 but lost to Rochester 7-0. The Elks beat Osseo/Maple Grove 6-2 last week. This week they play a league game with Spring Lake Park and play Edina in a re-match and precursor Edina’s year end tourney.
Over in the D10 Green Division, chaos reigns. The top three teams are playing .500 hockey in the league. CINB with an 0-6 record is not out of the running being only 6 points behind Rogers the top point getter in the Green. St. Francis maybe the best position on all the teams sitting at the bottom because of playing only three games.
St. Francis played in the South St. Paul tourney this weekend. After losing 2-0 to Tartan, St. Francis beat Sibley 2-1 and Spring Lake Park 3-2 to take the consolation title. Spring Lake Park is one of the Green teams ahead of St. Francis. Before the South St. Paul tourney, SLP had a tough D10 loss to Blaine 4-3 and had tied Centennial and St. Cloud in D10 play.
Rogers, Champlin Park and Princeton are all knotted at the top of the Green. Rogers plays Blaine and Coon Rapids; Champlin Park plays Coon Rapids, Spring Lake Park and Centennial; and Princeton plays St. Cloud this week.
Chisago Lakes was the only D10 team in the Moorhead tourney. They tied Brainerd 5-5, lost to Littleton 6-2, lost to Fargo, and lost to Omaha 2-1 in a shotout. Spring Lake Park played at South St. Paul losing to the Packers 7-4, beating Red Wing 8-2 before losing to St. Francis. Coon Rapids played at Albert Lea, beating Waseca, Albert Lea 4-1 and Austin before losing in the Championship to North St. Paul 4-2.
Blaine and Centennial played in the Spirit of Duluth. Centennial did not advance out of their pool. They lost to Wayzata 11-3, beat Superior 5-3 and played Thunder Bay. Blaine beat the Duluth Lakers 3-2, lost to Osseo/Maple Grove and played Minnetonka.
Elk River is solidly #1 in D10 this week again. The tie with Andover is not enough to affect the Elks, but it puts a dent in their rep. Andover keeps the #2 seed. These two teams will not tangle again until the end of January. With the Green Division still in disarray the Blue Division gets the #3 seed this week with Centennial. They maybe making a move, if they can ever get past playing Wayzata.
D15 - Moorhead had their tourney last week. Only one other team besides Moorhead entered, Brainerd. All twelve teams ended up playing a final game for place in the tourney. Moorhead ended up in 4th and Brainerd in 10th. Moorhead got there by beating Omaha 9-2, beating the Dakota Lazers before losing to Rochester 6-0 and Littleton Colorado 4-3. Brainerd struggles this year and the Moorhead tourney showed that. The Warriors lost to Littleton, tied Chisago Lakes, beat Marshall and lost to Buffalo 5-1.
Alexandria has a good week beating Sartell 5-4 in overtime and a visiting Armstrong 5-1. This week they play Detroit Lakes. The Lakers held their own tourney this week end. They played the Bismarck Admirals, Proctor and the Fargo Flyers.
D15 is shaping up to be a three team race with Detroit Lakes, Moorhead and Alexandria all contending. Brainerd continues to struggle. Alexandria takes the #1 seed in this district this week. Moorhead takes the #2 seed and Detroit Lakes the #3 seed. Moorhead’s journey to the cities this weekend will prove interesting for the Spuds. They play Eagan, Lakeville South, Woodbury and Eden Prairie.
D16 - D16 play is just getting started. EGF has won their first three games. This week the Green Wave added a fourth 8-0 win over long standing rival, Roseau. After playing second fiddle to the Rams for the past three years, the win for the Green Wave came easy and probably less satisfying.
The challenger for the Green Wave this year is not the Rams, but Bemidji. The Lumberjacks notched two more D16 wins beating Hallock 10-1 and TRF 7-2 to stay in step with the Green Wave. Bemidji plays TRF and Crookston on Saturday before meeting EGF on Sunday.
The two teams meet this week in EGF in a game that will likely determine the D16 regular season title. That may seem like a dichotomy, but the Green Wave already has one D16 win over the Lumberjacks. A second win could clinch the D16 crown for the Green Wave since the remaing teams on their D16 schedule are not likely to challenge them. Only Crookston or perhaps Warroad could threaten EGF.
Roseau is entered in the Grand Rapids tourney. The Rams play International Falls in the opener.
Crookston has won their first three games. Last weekend, the Pirates played in the Detroit Lakes tourney. They play Bemidji, West Fargo and EGF this week. Thief River Falls through a scheduling quirk plays their first 6 games, home and home, against Roseau, EGF and Bemidji. The Prowlers will have to work hard to survive that tough early season schedule. If they do, they should do well in D16.
Roseau has a balanced schedule, playing all seven D16 teams in their first seven games. But the Rams will have to beat Warroad in their next D16 game to go 3-4 in those first seven games. Warroad could be the surprise this year in D16. They did reasonably well in the Orono tourney two weeks ago and if the Warriors can improve, they could be a threat to the top teams come playoffs.
There is no change in the two D16 seeds this week. East Grand Forks takes the #1 seed and Bemidji the #2 seed. The Green Wave will be tested at Bemidji this week. It should be a fun week for them. Bemidji, despite playing two D16 games, gets to sort of “hunker down” and wait for the Green Wave on Sunday.