Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Another Way to Look at PeeWee A Hockey - March 10

Next week, the PeeWee A State Tourney will be reviewed as the eight remaining teams prepare for opening round play on Friday, March 19. In addition, the top kids playing PeeWee hockey will be listed (by number and team).

The Girls' State High School tourney was last week. This week is the boys' turn. At the youth hockey level, Minnesota Hockey defines a level of play for girls, but not for boys. The boys play “youth hockey”. This allows the girls that want to compete with the boys, the opportunity to compete

For the last two years, Alexis Joyce played defense and wing for the Apple Valley PeeWee A team. This year, she played on the Lakeville North first line in their State Tourney appearance at the “X”. Another Apple Valley PeeWee A player from two years ago, Hudson Fasching, is leading Apple Valley into the state tourney this week against Blaine.

There are probably a number of equally interesting stories revolving around these two hockey tourneys this year, but sometimes an organization like Minnesota Hockey gets it right.

To the kids on the 90+ teams that didn’t make it to the state, good luck in the future. In their last year at PeeWee, Hudson and Alexis did not make it out of their district playoffs.

Congratulations to the eight teams going to the state tourney in two weeks. In an oddity this year, congratulations to four districts (D2, D3, D6 and D10). They each got two teams into the state.

North Region - The North region was played at the St. Croix Community Center. White Bear Lake opened the Red Division play beating Duluth East 6-2 and never looked back. The Bears beat the Duluth Lakers 4-0 Friday night and Hibbing 6-1 Saturday to take the Red #1 seed. Duluth East came back Friday night to beat Hibbing 6-5. The Lakers opened morning play beating Hibbing 7-3.

Saturday’s game between the two Duluth teams would determine the Red #2. The Hounds won 2-1.

In the Blue Division, Hermantown upset Stillwater 3-2 in the opening Friday game. With the score tied 1-1 early in the third period, a Hawk forward picked off an errant Pony pass at the blue line and turned it into a goal on a hard shot from the slot that hit the goalie’s shoulder and bounced into the net. Halfway through the third, the Hawks scored on a power play again from the slot. Stillwater came back a minute later scoring on a hard shot from the top of the face off circle that hit the upper left corner to end the scoring.

Roseville beat Grand Rapids 1-0 on Friday, setting up a key game with Hermantown on Saturday. The Raiders beat the Hawks 3-1. In the other Blue division game Stillwater kept their hopes alive beating Grand Rapids 7-2. The Ponies needed Grand Rapids to beat the Hawks in Saturday’s evening game to play on Sunday. The Thunderhawks did, beating Hermantown 7-3 to end their season.
Stillwater then beat Roseville 7-1 in the game for the #1 seed. Roseville took the #2 seed.

Sunday’s games matched White Bear Lake/Roseville for the #1 seed and Stillwater/Duluth East for the #2 seed. The Bears and Raiders had played three times this season (1-1-1) with the Bears winning the last game 9-3 a week ago. White Bear Lake won on Sunday 1-0 to take the North #1 seed to state. Stillwater and Duluth East had met twice previously (the Ponies winning 10-2 and tying 2-2). On Sunday, the Ponies edged the Hounds 2-1 for the North #2 seed.

West Region - Elk River took three straight games in the Red Division beating D10 rival Centennial 8-1, Moorhead 4-2 and Bemidji 8-1 to take the #1 seed. Centennial, Moorhead, and Bemidji finished on Saturday in a three way tie for the #2 seed. Each had 1-2 records, but in the first tie breaker (goal differential for games played among the tied teams) Moorhead came out on top to take the #2 seed in the Red.

In the Blue, Andover swept their three games beating Brainerd 7-3, East Grand Forks 7-3 and Alexandria 6-3 to take the #1 seed. East Grand Forks beat Alex 8-1 and Brainerd 9-1 to take the #2 seed.

In Sunday’s championship games, Elk River beat East Grand Forks 5-4 to take the West’s #1 seed to the state and Andover beat Moorhead 4-2 taking the #2 seed to complete the D10 sweep of West. All season long, Elk River and East Grand Forks look to be the best in the West, but Andover after struggling in January came on to upset the Green Wave forcing a pre-state show down between EGF and Elk River. The loss ended a great season for EGF and ended their string of state tourney appearances.

East Region - Their opening Friday game in the Red Division with Rochester was the key to the Burnsville’s chances to get to the state. Rochester came out fired and beat the Blaze 4-3. Woodbury beat Mpls Park 3-0 as the Storm out shot the Royals by more then two to one, but could not score on the Royals goalie. That evening, the Blaze jumped out to 3-0 lead over the Royals and hung on to win 3-2. Rochester beat the Storm 4-1 in the second game.

Saturday’s game between Rochester and Woodbury held the key to Burnsville’s fate. If Woodbury lost, Rochester and Burnsville would play Sunday. If Woodbury won by a goal, the Royals and Rochester would play Sunday. If Woodbury won by more then two goals, the Royals and Burnsville would play Sunday.

The game started badly for Rochester, drawing two penalties (one a five minute) in the first the first few minutes. But that sequence set the tone for the game. The Royals could not pressure the Rochester goal and failed to mount any sustained attack. Rochester came out of that sequence and pushed their attack. At the end of the second period, they led 4-0 and out shot the Royals by three to one.

In the Blue Division, Edina beat Farmington in the Friday opener 7-0, beat Highland 10-1 Saturday morning and Eden Prairie 4-0 that night to take the Blue #1 seed. Eden Prairie beat Highland 6-1 in the other Friday game.

Saturday morning game between Eden Prairie and Farmington would battle for the #2 seed. The game was well played, one of the best on the weekend. It was scoreless early in the third period when the Tigers drew penalty. The Eagles scored on the power play on a tip in play from the goalie’s left that turned an errant puck wide of the goal to a score. The Eagles added another deflection on another errant shot that was deflected down into the net from above the crossbar to win the game 2-0 and give the Eagles the #2 seed. Farmington ended a great season. The Tigers have most of their team returning next year.

In Sunday’s games, Eden Prairie beat Rochester 5-0 to take the East #1 seed and Edina beat Burnsville 5-2 to take the #2 seed. The Hornets and the Blaze played each other four times in the past 10 days, the Hornets winning three times.

South Region - The Red Division in the South was dominated by Wayzata as the Trojans beat Hutchinson 9-2, New Prague 6-0 and St. Peter 12-1. They easily took the Red #1 seed. Both Hutchinson and New Prague beat St. Peter on Friday (6-0 and 5-4 in double overtime) to set up a Saturday show down for the Red #2 seed. Hutch won 5-3.

The Blue Division made the South Regional the most exciting of the three Twin Cities Regionals. In the opening Friday games, STMA surprised Osseo/Maple Grove beating OMG 3-2 in triple overtime and Orono beat Mankato 5-1. Saturday morning, Orono also surprised OMG beating them 2-1 while STMA beat Mankato 8-2. That setup the “Wayzata Bowl” between Orono and STMA, the winner would play Hutchinson and the loser Wayzata.

These two teams had a tremendous game in the Orono tourney in early December, STMA winning 4-3. Saturday evening was a repeat in front of a loud and raucous crowd at the Maple Grove Community Center. Orono scored in the first minute of play and an already emotional crowd took it one notch higher. STMA came back off a rebound to tie the score 1-1 and then scored on a breakaway as the STMA forward slid a backhander on the ice past the sprawling goalies leg pad. The first period ended 2-1.

The second period was scoreless and fraught with penalties. In one sequence, a rugged STMA forward bounced two Spartans off his shoulders, evaded two more, and skated to the crease in a rink long rush only to be stopped by the goalie.

In the third period opened with a bang as six goals were scored in the first five minutes. Both teams scored a quick goal each, followed by a STMA forward breakaway that left the Spartan defense in disarray and resulted in a hard shot that was in the net before most of the fans realized it.

Orono re-grouped and rallied from the 4-2 deficit to score on a tip play a minute later. They tied the score at 4-4 at the 10:04 mark on a tip goal from the point. Scoring end for the period and regulation ended in a tie. With less then 4 minutes remaining in the first OT, Orono banged in the winning goal. The game was over 5-4.

The next day, Wayzata beat STMA 10-2 to take the #1 South seed. Orono beat Hutchinson 5-0 to take the #2 South seed. The Wayzata/STMA game was physical from the start with both teams being heavily penalized in the first and second periods. The Trojans jumped out to a 7-0 lead at the end of the first period and led 8-2 at the end of the second.

State Tourney - The State Tourney will be played at Faribault Community Arena in Faribault. White Bear Lake and Edina will play the first game. The tourney starts at noon March 19th. The second game will match Wayzata and Andover. In the lower bracket, Eden Prairie meets Stillwater and Elk River plays Orono.

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