Thursday, February 4, 2010

Another Way to Look at PeeWee A Hockey - Feb. 4

By frederick16

Some district playoffs at the PeeWee A level will start Valentine’s Day weekend. For the man who will enjoy those weekend games, you want to tell your “better half” that she has only nine more days to buy her present.

For the mother who is rooting for her son or daughter in a Valentine’s Sunday morning playoff game, here is a salute for all hockey mornings and evenings you have attended and made happen for your child. As one author’s famously coined phrase was put, you are in the “she who must be obeyed” club.

The district playoffs have to be completed by February 28th. That is the only rule that Minnesota Hockey has given the districts. That means all district tourneys at all levels have to be completed by that date, not just the PeeWee A’s. That also means around 700 teams at approximately 30 plus locations will be playing down starting with district “play-in” games in 10 days. The tournament season is upon us.

The district’s regular season plus each association’s wishes determine the number of teams that will participate in the district playoffs. In some districts, the decision of an individual association on their participation is left to the last week of regular season. Because the number of teams entered in a playoff determines a district playoff format, some districts have yet to publish their tourney format.

Starting this week and ending with the Feb 18th LPH issue, each districts playoff will be reviewed in this column. The electronic version will continue for the next two weeks as the peewee A regular season ends. This week, D1, D2, D4, and D11 playoffs are summarized.

Last week was relatively quiet after all the northern tourney action the week before. Hudson held its tourney. They won it. The Raiders also won recognition in the LPH ratings. The Wisconsin team was rated #20 among the best teams in Minnesota. That is a great achievement for all involved. Maybe Hudson should be annexed by the Gopher State. After all, it is just a small river that separates the two.

North Region - This week, D16 invaded D11 when Thief River Falls and East Grand Forks traveled to Duluth. The Prowlers lost three tough games and EGF won two and tied a third game. Grand Rapids from D11 made a trip to Duluth also, winning one game and losing another.

Cloquet has a twelve team tourney going this weekend that also includes D11 rivals Hermantown and the Duluth Lakers. Some of the top teams in the state will be there including Stillwater. The Ponies are likely to be a D2 seed in this region tourney in four weeks.

White Bear Lake and Stillwater are knotted on top of D2. The Bears will host the Moose Goheen tourney this weekend and has drawn some of the top rated teams in the state. Duluth East will take on Edina in the opening round of that tourney.

No changes in the North this week with one more week to go before playoffs. In the North Red, the projected teams are: Duluth Lakers, Stillwater, Grand Rapids, and Cloquet; in the North Blue, the projected teams are: White Bear Lake, Duluth East, Greenway, and Roseville.

District 11 - D11’s playoff format is out. Five teams will play for three seeds in a double elimination tourney. The 4/5 teams will play in the opening game with the winner playing the #1 seed in one semifinal game. The 2/3 teams play in the other semifinal. Losers drop down to play each other. The tourney starts on February 22nd at Fryberger in Duluth.

The Duluth Lakers and Duluth East are in a tie for first in D11; Cloquet and Hermantown are tied for third and fourth. Proctor trails. Each team has one game left. Proctor can not catch either Cloquet or Hermantown; Duluth East and the Duluth Lakers have a lock on either the #1 or #2 seed. Proctor and either the Lumberjacks or the Hawks will play in the opening game on the 22nd. The Hawks have an edge in schedule. The winner of the 4/5 game will play either Duluth East or the Duluth Lakers. Hermantown and Cloquet tied last week 2-2 in a key match-up for the two teams.

Hermantown ends their D11 season with Proctor; Cloquet plays the Duluth Lakers in their last game. With the Lakers needing a win to keep pace with archrival Duluth East, the advantage swings to Hermantown for the #3 seed.

If the Duluth Lakers sweep their last two games, they take first via having one more “unfairplay” point then the Hounds. The Lakers would take the #1 seed and play the winner of the 4/5 game. The Hounds as the #2 seed would play #3 (most likely Hermantown). The Hounds beat Proctor this week 6-0.

Which two teams is most likely to lose in this tourney? It is difficult to tell. In the last month, the last place Proctor Rails lost to Duluth East 3-2, Hermantown 5-2, the Duluth Lakers 8-6, and to Cloquet 4-3. Last weekend, the Hawks beat visiting Thief River Falls 3-2 and lost to East Grand Forks 5-3; Duluth East beat the same TRF team 5-2 and lost to EGF 4-3. Cloquet tied EGF 2-2.

It is wide open. The two teams that win the semifinal games on Feb 23 will advance. The loser of the game between the #1 seed and the #4/#5 seed winner will have the advantage in the fight for the third seed.

Cloquet opens their tourney against Cambridge and Hopkins. Hopkins is back at full strength after playing most of the last month with a short bench. They looked tough beating Woodbury last Tuesday 2-1. The Lakers take on Dryden and Princeton in their pool play. Dryden, if it is the same team, played in the Superior tourney early in the season and took second, losing to Highland in the championship game. Hermantown draws Greenway and Spring Lake Park. Spring Lake Park is currently on top of the D10 Green Division.
The Duluth Lakers keep the #1 seed this week. The Hounds take the #2 seed. Cloquet keeps the #3 seed.

District 12 - Grand Rapids split their two game swing to Duluth, beating Hermantown 3-2 and losing to the Duluth Lakers 5-4. The Thunderhawks also played Eveleth in their last D12 game. They beat the Golden Bears 8-0 to finish with a 7-2 record and most likely in first place. This week Grand Rapids plays Bemidji.

Hibbing also played Eveleth last week, beating the Golden Bears 5-2. This week they play International Falls and Eveleth. Greenway plays in the Cloquet tourney. They play Spring Lake Park and Hermantown in opening games. They lost to International Falls 7-4 last week. Eveleth continues to show improvement.

Greenway still takes the #1 seed. They beat the Rapids two weeks ago and nothing has changed since. The Rapids remain #2. But the Bluejackets and the Broncos will challenge these two teams in the playoffs in a very balanced league that has shown some remarkable swings in play week to week.

District 2 - D2 has an eight team playoff format for the eight teams in its district. The teams winning the semifinal games are assured a regional seed; the losers in the semis and opening round have to play back for the third seed.

The eight teams are seeded per their finish in regular season. Tartan will host the D2 playoffs this year. The last two years, the D2 playoffs are among the best attended playoffs.

But this year, unlike last year, the seeds are predicable. White Bear Lake and Stillwater are fighting for the #1 or #2 seed. With White Bear Lake beating Mounds View 4-1 on the weekend, both teams are deadlocked. Both teams have two games left, both teams play Mahtomedi. The Bear’s other game is against Irondale; the Ponies other game is against Mounds View. Should they tie in points, White Bear beat the Ponies twice during the season and should hold the tie breaker.

Roseville has the #3 seed; Mahtomedi, Mounds View, and Forest Lake are vying for the 4-6 seeds. North St. Paul has the 7th seed and Tartan the 8th.

The Bears as the #1 would play Tartan in the opening round; Stillwater as the #2 would play North St. Paul. Roseville would play the #6 seed (most likely Forest Lake) and Mounds View and Mahtomedi would play in the 4/5 game.

That means one D2 regional seed will be decided by the winner of bracket play games between White Bear Lake, Tartan, Roseville and Forest Lake. A second D2 seed will be decided by the winner of bracket play games between Stillwater, North St. Paul, Mahtomedi and Mounds View.

To prep for the D2 playoffs, the Bears will host their Moose Goheen tourney this week. It will be a tough tourney. The field includes Osseo/Maple Grove (played well at Roseau), Centennial (coming off of two wins over Elk River and Andover in D10), Eden Prairie (fighting for one of the top two spots in D6), Woodbury (locked in a battle for the top spot in D8), Elk River (most likely D10 regular season champ), and Edina (who has a view from the top of peewee A’s in Minnesota).

Stillwater plays at Cloquet this weekend. The Ponies play Farmington and the Saint Paul Saints in their opening games. Roseville travels to New Hope to play in Armstrong’s tourney. They play Hastings in the opening round of bracket play.

The seeds remain unchanged this week, White Bear Lake takes the #1 seed, Stillwater takes the #2 seed and Roseville the #3 seed.

East Region - Edina, Edina, Edina… They are like a hockey loving spouse on Valentines Day. You love them, but you will want to shoot them when they come home from the arena.

The Hornets rolled through D6 last week to lock up first, beating Burnsville in the process. All the Hornets can say is who is next? They were even kind to the 97 Fire, calling their win in the championship game at Roseau a “tie”.

Suddenly the East has become a region of Edina and who else. The only fly (or should it be eagle) in their ointment is Eden Prairie who have beaten them. They will have one or two games with Eden Prairie this week.

For the second week in a row, there are no changes in the East regional pools. In the East Red this week, the projected teams are: Farmington, Burnsville, Mpls Park, and Lakeville South; in the East Blue, the projected teams are: Edina, Woodbury, Highland, and Eden Prairie.

District 1 - Minnesota Hockey is restructuring districts and will have a new district alignment, regional and state tourney approach for 2010-2011. Under that new alignment, this will be the last year for D1 to have seeds to the peewee A tourney.

Four teams, Highland, Mpls Park, the Saint Paul Saints, and Irondale, will play in the D1 playoffs this year. The D1 format is a four team double elimination tourney that seeds the teams 1/4 and 2/3 in the opening games. Based on current standings, that means Highland will play Irondale and Mpls Park will play the Saint Paul Saints in the opening round.

Highland beat Mpls Park twice this past week (5-0 and 5-2) and has a lock on #1 seed. The Caps have been playing short handed and may have to play short handed in the playoffs. The Monday game with Mpls Park was hard fought for two periods before the Caps broke it open in the third to win 5-2. Both teams played a great game until Mpls Park struggled in the third period.

The Storm had been fighting for first place in D3 until these past two weeks when a tie with Mound Westonka (0-0) and losses to Hopkins (5-4) and Armstrong (3-0) knocked them out of contention. Last night against the Caps, they struggled on defense. The Storm will likely have two battles with the Saint Paul Saints to take the #2 seed.

The Storm beat the Saints last week 2-0, but the Saints have been improving since the Governor’s Cup. They recently beat Stillwater 4-2 in D2 and will test themselves again in Cloquet opening with games against Stillwater and Farmington. Irondale can be dangerous and could upset the Saints should they meet. The Knights, coming off a three week layoff, tied the Saints last week 3-3.

Highland will host the D1 tourney. The games will be played over two weekends, Feb. 22nd and Feb. 27th. Highland Central keeps the #1 seed and the Storm takes the #2 seed.

District 6 - Edina beat Burnsville for the third time this season 7-3. That win still has that “good view” from the top of the Peewee A world. Last week, the Hornets beat Apple Valley 11-1 and beat Chaska 6-0 in other D6 action. Eden Prairie had a good week last week, beating Chaska 6-2, Minnetonka 5-2, and beating Eastview 6-3. Despite those three wins by the Eagles, they trail the Hornets by 5 points. Each team has three D6 games left. One of the games is against each other this week.

Both Eden Prairie and Edina are entered in the White Bear Lake tourney. The Eagles draw Centennial and the Hornets play Duluth East in the opening round.

Last week, Burnsville beat Eastview 2-1, beat Kennedy 6-0, and played Eastview a second time in addition to losing to the Hornets last week. They are in a chase with Eden Prairie for second place in D6. The Blaze play Chaska this week and end their season against Apple Valley. The Blaze appear to have “lost a game” in the D6 standings.

Prior Lake/Savage and Eastview are fighting for the 4th and 5th places and a seed into the playoffs. The Lakers beat Kennedy 2-1 last week and played Minnetonka. Their remaining two D6 games are with Kennedy and Eden Prairie. The Lightning, despite the losses to Eden Prairie and Burnsville last week, should take either 4th or 5th place. They play Apple Valley, Chaska, and Kennedy in their remaining three games. Like Burnsville, both these teams also appear to have “lost a game” in the D6 standings.

Eastview plays in the New Hope tourney this week. They draw Orono in the first game. Kennedy also plays in the New Hope tourney, they draw Champlin Park in their opening game.

Besides losing to Eden Prairie, Minnetonka beat Jefferson 6-4 and played Prior Lake last week. The Skippers have two games left on their schedule, Edina and Chaska. They too appear to have “lost a game” in the D6 standings.

Apple Valley played in the Hudson tourney over the weekend. The Eagles lost a tough overtime game to Forest Lake 6-5, beat the Madison Patriots 3-1 and Red Wing 8-1 to take the consolation title.

D6 has been consistent all year in the seeds. This week is no different. The seeds are unchanged. Edina keeps the #1 seed, Burnsville takes the #2 seed, and Eden Prairie the #3 seed. Eden Prairie and Edina play in the White Bear Lake tourney this week in opposite brackets. The two teams could meet in the championship game which would be interesting. Why? The same two teams play each other at EP1 three days later in a D6 game.

District 8 - How balanced are the D8 teams? The D8 teams are very balanced if the last two Woodbury games are any indication. Woodbury and Rosemount tied 2-2 in a key match-up this week and Woodbury and Rochester tied 3-3 in another key match-up where the Woodbury goalie played an outstanding game.

With the D8 schedule winding down this week, six teams (Rosemount, Woodbury, Lakeville South, Hudson (ranked #20 in Minnesota this week), Farmington and Rochester) are within 6 points of the top spot.

Now that D8 has corrected the seeding in their playoffs, first and second place mean something. Three teams (Rosemount, Woodbury, and Lakeville South) will battle for the top spot. Hudson could tie for the top spot, but too many teams would have to lose games.

Rosemount has the edge in the chase for #1, but has to play a tough Farmington team next week. Woodbury has one game, the last D8 game on the schedule, at Hudson. Lakeville South has to play archrival Lakeville North yet. Rochester has an outside chance to take a #2 spot.

Hudson had their tourney this week. The Raiders won by beating Red Wing 7-1, South St. Paul 5-3 and Forest Lake 5-3. The Raiders play Cottage Grove this week. Red Wing beat New Ulm and lost to Apple Valley in the consolation championship game. South St. Paul took third place. The Packers beat New Ulm 6-2, lost to Hudson and beat Faribault 7-5.

Woodbury plays in the White Bear Lake tourney this week. They draw Elk River in their opening game. The Royals lost to the Royals (Hopkins) 2-1 last week. Lakeville North went 2-2 last week. The Panthers beat Eagan 4-1, lost to Farmington 4-1, lost to Rochester 5-0 and beat Cottage Grove 9-1. This week Lakeville North plays South St. Paul, Blaine and Hastings.
Lakeville South also beat Cottage Grove this week 6-1. The Cougars are off this week. Farmington travels to Cloquet this weekend. They play the Saint Paul Saints and Stillwater in their opening games. The Tigers have scheduled a scrimmage with Edina just prior to the start of D8 playoffs.

Dodge County lost a close game to Cottage Grove 3-2 last week. This week, they play Albert Lea and two games with Northfield. Red Wing plays Apple Valley (a rematch at Bergwall of the Hudson consolation game) and New Prague this week.

Who gets the #1 seed this week? Farmington tied with Rochester, Woodbury tied Rochester, Lakeville South tied Hudson twice (but beat Rochester a month ago), and Rosemount tied Woodbury. Where is the zinc penny? Where are the hockey ghosts when you need them? When confronted with confusion, pull a “Forest Gump”. Keep it simple, go with last week’s ratings.

The Tigers keep the #1. Woodbury keeps the #2 seed and Lakeville South keeps the #3 seed. But Rosemount is looking good. The Irish should make a move. Rochester is also looking good. Woodbury will carry the D8 flag into the White Bear tourney, but this week’s D8 play only tightened an already tight D8 race. At least the D8 teams and coaches can throw away the visors and the playing cards. They can leave the poker table. There is no game of hearts this week.

South Region - This region has looked to be the domain of D3 from the start. With the return of Hopkins in D3, that looks unchanged. A potential South Region scenario, based on the projected pools, would have Wayzata finishing #1 and Hutchinson, New Prague or Faribault finishing #2 in the South Red. In the Blue, OMG and Hopkins are likely to finish #1 or #2. That would pit Wayzata against OMG or Hopkins for a ticket to the state and OMG or Hopkins against Hutch, NP or Faribault for the other ticket.

The South Regional pools change this week. In the South Red this week, the projected teams are: Wayzata, Hutchinson, New Prague, and Faribault; in the South Blue, the projected teams are: STMA, Osseo/Maple Grove, St. Peter and Hopkins. In the South Blue, Orono drops out and is replaced by OMG. Hopkins takes OMG’s place.

District 3 - A week ago, Wayzata looked to be in trouble having been upended in the Roseau tourney in pool play. That broke a string of tourney first and second place finishes. Their return to D3 play last week was a potential trap. But it was a trap the Trojans avoided by beating North Metro 7-2, Orono 4-1, and Hopkins 4-1. With two D3 games left against Mpls Park and Osseo/Maple Grove, the D3 regular season title and #1 seed in the playoffs could come down to the final game on Valentine’s Day at the PIC.

Osseo/Maple Grove seemed to have turned a corner, stumbled by losing to Orono two weeks ago, and then come back by playing well at Roseau. They continued to play well this week beating Mpls Park 3-0. OMG trails the Trojans by a single point with two games to go. They play Orono just before they play the Trojans. A win by OMG over Orono would set up the showdown with Wayzata on Feb 14th. This week, OMG plays in the White Bear Lake tourney. They open against the Bears. Centennial and Elk River tangle in the other bracket game.

Orono has been over taken by Hopkins, a team that has a nearly full bench after playing most last month with 10-11 players. The Spartans lost to Hopkins 4-1 and to Wayzata 4-1 last week. The lost to Hopkins hurt them because they will likely end up with the #4 seed in the playoffs.

Besides beating Orono, Hopkins beat Woodbury 2-1 last week. In a game that pitted the Royals versus the Royals, the Hopkins goalie proved once again that he is among the best peewee goalies in the state. But it just wasn’t his play this time as the forward and defense play has improved in the past month. Hopkins has two D3 games left (Armstrong and Mpls Park); Orono also plays Armstrong and plays OMG. This week, Hopkins plays in the Cloquet tourney. They open with games against Cloquet and CINB. Orono plays in New Hope and draws a tough Eastview team in their opening game.

Armstrong surprised Mpls Park last week beating them 3-0. They are coming off a good tourney at Sauk Centre and hosting their own tourney this week. It is a tough one. They open against the Fargo Angels, a team currently in second place in the North Dakota Peewee A South league. The Angels usually make only one trip outside of North Dakota. Champlin Park plays Kennedy in the other bracket game. In the lower bracket, Roseville plays Hastings and Orono plays Eastview.

This week, Wayzata keeps the #1 seed. OMG takes the #2 seed. Hopkins takes the #3 seed. OMG in the White Bear Lake tourney; Hopkins in the Cloquet tourney; and Orono in the New Hope tourney should all do well. The hardware should be flowing into D3 coffers this week.

District 4 - This year D4 has two divisions of three teams each in their playoff. The top two teams in the West and East divisions are seeded into the pools with the remaining teams in each division playing for the #3 seed. With regular season almost over, the American Division will have Mankato #1, Faribault #2 and the winner of the Albert Lea, Owatonna, and Austin play-in as the #3 seed. The National Division will have New Prague #1 and St. Peter #2 and the winner of the Luverne, Marshall, New Ulm and Waseca play-in.

The format idea is simple, the West regular season champs have to beat the top teams from the East ‘sans’ the East champ and visa versa. The teams are then matched in a single game on the last day with the teams finishing first playing each other for the #1 and #2 seeds and the teams finishing second playing for the #3 seed.

In an American Division preview, Mankato beat Owatonna 5-0 and Albert Lea 5-2 last week. Owatonna or Albert Lea is likely to be the #3 seed in the playoff. The Mavericks and Faribault played to a 2-2 tie in early December and have not played since. Faribault had a good tourney last week at Hudson, beating the Madison Patriots 4-1, losing to Forest Lake and then to South St. Paul in the third place game 7-5. The Mavericks and Faribault look to be one of the key D4 playoff match-ups.

In the National, it does not get any easier. New Prague and St. Peter are the #1 and #2 division seeds and St. Peter beat the Trojans twice, 8-3 in December and 3-2 ten days ago. But both teams better not over look the #3 seed (especially if it is Luverne). The Cardinals can contend.

This week, the seeds are unchanged. St. Peter remains #1, New Prague #2 and Mankato #3. A potential D4 senario in the up coming playoffs pits St. Peter against Mankato for the #1/#2 seed to the West regional and New Prague against Faribault for the #3 seed.

District 5 - STMA last week beat Crow River 5-3, beat Sartell 4-1, beat River Lakes 9-1 and tied Hutchinson 2-2. That performance gives the Knights a lock on first place with one game left to play against Mound/Westonka. Ironically, Mound/Westonka has been a dominant team in D5 over the past few years. The game with the Knights (the new D5 champion) will be the White Hawks last D5 game.

Hutchinson continues to play well. The tie with the Knights is not surprising. The Tigers beat Willmar 7-2 last week. This week, they play in Alexandria’s tourney drawing Fargo in the opening round of bracket play. Alexandria plays Tartan in the other bracket game.

Crow River ended their D5 season last week. Besides losing to STMA, they tied Buffalo 1-1, played Mound/Westonka, and played Litchfield. Crow River travels to Fergus Falls to play in their tourney. They open bracket play against the host. The other game in their bracket pits D5 rival MALM against another D5 team Willmar. Mound/Westonka is in that tourney also, they play Crookston. The Fergus Falls tourney looks like a good preview of the D5 playoffs.

Sartell won two out of three D5 games last week. Unfortunately, the game for first place with STMA, they lost. The Sabres did beat River Lakes 4-3 and Willmar 9-0. But with two D5 games left (Litchfield and MAML), they trail STMA by 7 points. This week, the Sabres play at Alex. In the opening round, they draw Sioux Falls. North St. Paul plays Grand Forks in the other bracket game.

Mound/Westonka and Buffalo continue to have up and down games. The White Hawks played Buffalo and Crow River in D5 last week, they lost to Hopkins 7-0 in D3 action last week. Buffalo, besides tying Crow River, played Mound/Westonka last week. This week they have two D5 games against Willmar and Mound. The Bison will end their D5 season in two weeks with a home and home series against Hutchinson that will be an interesting match-up just prior to the D5 playoffs.

STMA remains the #1 seed this week; Hutchinson gets the #2 seed. The Tigers’ tie with STMA was not enough to swap seeds. Sartell’s loss to STMA was a tough one, but the Sabres can bounce back with a good showing at Alex. Crow River is in a similar boat, they lost also to STMA last week, but a good showing at Fergus Falls will get noticed.

Congratulations to all the D5 teams this week. For a number of years they have struggled in play outside of D5 and the league has tended to be dominated by a few teams. That is changed this year. With a balanced league and a tough but fair playoff, they will be well represented in the West by any of the teams that win the playoffs.

West Region - D10’s regular season race was settled last week when Elk River beat Andover to break the season long deadlock the two teams had at the top of the Blue Division. Four teams (Spring Lake Park, Rogers, St. Francis, and Champlin Park) are locked in a tie for first in the D10 Green. Alexandria, Moorhead, and Detroit Lakes are still fighting for first in D15. Over in D16, East Grand Forks is running away from the field.

All season long there has been a question if any team will emerge in the district playoffs to challenge Elk Rivers or EGF in the West Region. One has emerged from D10, Centennial. Last week they beat both Andover and Elk River.

In the West Red this week, the projected teams are: Alexandria, Bemidji, Elk River, and Andover; in the West Blue, the projected teams are: East Grand Forks, Moorhead, Centennial, and Detroit Lakes. Changes this week is that Centennial takes the #1 D10 seed away from Elk River in the West Blue. The Elks take the #2 seed and move from the West Blue to the West Red. Andover replaces St. Francis in the Red.

District 10 - There was a broadway play in the 60’s that had as its title “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”. In D10, that is exactly what happened last week only in this case the “forum” was the D10 title. The “funny thing” was both teams in the title chase (Elk River and Andover) lost to a team (Centennial) that needed those victories to assure that it would not be eliminated from the D10 playoffs. Elk River won the “title game” at Andover Community Center on chilly Sunday evening in front a good sized crowd that created a great environment for the kids playing the “big game”. It was a good experience for all.

With that win, Elk River trails Andover by a point with three games to play. This week the Elks play Rogers and Princeton. In between those games, they play in a tough tourney at White Bear Lake. They open play against Woodbury. In the other bracket game, Edina plays Duluth East. The Elks end their D10 season against St. Francis. Andover plays their last two D10 games (Anoka and Coon Rapids) this week. The Huskies have to hope that Elk River stumbles.

Centennial had a good week in D10 beating Rogers 7-1, Andover 2-1, Elk River 3-1 and St. Cloud 4-1. They are also in the White Bear Tourney opening against Eden Prairie. Centennial has an outside chance to still win the D10 title, but they will need Andover and Elk River to stumble.

In another turn of events, Blaine, Anoka, and Coon Rapids are now tangling for the fourth and final spot in the playoffs. Coon Rapids has the toughest road. They need points and play Anoka, Andover and Centennial in their last three games. Anoka only has Andover in their last four games. They trail Blaine by two points. The Bengals have the advantage with two league games to go.

In the Green Division, St. Cloud has one game left and trail four teams by 2-4 points. A win in their last game will not be enough to take slot in the playoffs. Losing six “unfairplay” points cost St. Cloud a playoff spot this year.

The top four teams (Spring Lake Park, Rogers, St. Francis, and Champlin Park) are knotted up in the top four spots in the Green. Princeton has a outside chance to knock one of the teams out, but need a sweep of their remaining games. If being able to compete is important to developing kids, D10’s green division certainly has provided all seven teams that opportunity.

Princeton and Spring Lake Park are playing in Cloquet’s tourney this week. Spring Lake Park plays Greenway and Hermantown. Princeton plays Dryden and the Duluth Lakers. Champlin Park is at New Hope. They play Kennedy in the opening game of bracket play. St. Francis plays in the River Lakes tourney.

The seeds change this week. Centennial beat both Elk River and Andover last week. Those two impressive wins by Centennial pole vault their team (that was nearly out of the D10 playoffs last week) to the #1 seed. Elk River, the D10 champ takes the #2 seed and Andover takes the #3 seed. St. Francis drops out this week. Two D10 losses to Champlin Park (1-0) and to Coon Rapids (3-1) did the Fighting Saints in this week.

District 15 - Alexandria had a good week. They beat to Brainerd 5-2 and beat Fergus Falls 8-2 to end their D15 season and post 35 points as the target to beat for first or second place. That puts the Detroit Lakes/Moorhead game on Friday as the key game this week. The Lakers and the Spuds need a win to catch Alex and both can’t win. Alex should end up in first or second place in D15. Moorhead plays Wadena and Brainerd this weekend. The Spuds end their D16 season on Valentine’s Day at home against Fergus Falls.

This week the Cardinals host their tourney at the Runestone Community Center. The Runestone was found in the Alex area and for years derided as a fake that nobody could quite prove. Now there is proof emerging that the Runestone is real and maybe tied to the knights templar and their desire to hide something in the Alex area.

That description sort of fits the Cardinal team this year. For the last few years, nobody noticed, but this year they are real.

Alex opens their tourney against Tartan. Fargo and Hutchinson play in the other bracket game. In the lower bracket, Grand Forks plays North St. Paul and Sartell plays Sioux Falls.

Fergus Falls has their tourney this week also has an interesting tourney this week. The Otters open play against Crow River. In the other game in their bracket, MAML plays Willmar. Grand Forks plays Detroit Lakes and Mound Westonka plays Crookston in the lower bracket.

Brainerd has games against Northern Lakes, Wadena and Moorhead to end their D15 season this week. Northern Lakes plays in the River Lakes tourney over the weekend.

Alex keeps the #1 seed. The Cardinals finished their D15 season with two wins last week still hold the win over Moorhead a few weeks ago. Moorhead keeps the #2 and Detroit Lakes keeps the #3 seed.

District 16 - Some people used to travel to “take the cure”. Last week, East Grand Forks took to the road after tough losses to Edina. The Green Wave traveled to Duluth and beat Duluth East 4-3, beat Hermantown 5-3 and tied Cloquet 2-2. This week they return to D16 action playing Hallock, Roseau and Crookston. They are unbeaten in D16 and have a lock on finishing first in D16 with four games to play. But are they “cured”?

Thief River Falls also traveled to Duluth. They lost to Duluth East 5-2, lost to Hermantown 3-2, lost to Cloquet 5-1, played Proctor, and returned home to play Hallock. Bemidji beat International Falls at the Falls last week 6-2. This week they stay home to play Grand Rapids, Warroad and International Falls.

Roseau added two wins last week, beating LOW 4-3 and Warroad 7-2. The Rams play four games this week against LOW, EGF, Moorhead and Thief River Falls. Last week, Crookston toured D11 playing Hibbing and Greenway. The Pirates then played Moorhead. This week they travel to Fergus Falls for their tourney. They play Mound/Westonka in the opening game of bracket play.

With playoffs close, Bemidji looks to have second place in D16 with Thief River Falls, Crookston and Roseau fighting it out for third. East Grand Forks is the #1 seed, and Bemidji is the #2 seed. Thief River Falls and Roseau have shown improvement in the past few weeks. Crookston should do well in Fergus Falls.

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