Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another Way to Look at PeeWee A Hockey - Dec. 9

By frederick61

The action this week changed from tournaments to key games. And there were a number of key games scheduled. The best one would have been between Farmington and Wayzata but Friday’s snow storm forced a cancelation. Fortunately, the consolation prize was Rosemount and Wayzata on Saturday. The two teams played one terrific game for two periods. Rosemount won 6-5 despite a ragged third period chopped up by five penalties handed out to the Irish.

The game consisted of three 17-minute stop-time periods with a break to clean the ice between the second and third periods. The Irish jumped out to a 2-0 lead and led 5-2 midway through the second period. They got there by using every inch of open ice and outstanding passing angles to consistently break through the Trojan defense. And the Trojans threw up a tough defense forcing the Irish forwards to their extremes on every pass, every shot and every check.

With the Trojans down 5-2 and on a penalty kill, the Trojans were on the ropes when two Irish forwards broke in alone on the goalie. But instead of passing, the forward shot. The rebound came to a Trojan forward who broke down the Irish defense and scored. The Irish passing stopped. They hung on enduring penalties in the third period and killing a 5-3 penalty late in the period to win. It was a great game and the Irish played outstanding two periods against a very good Trojan team.

Both Bemidji and Grand Rapids made trips to the Twin Cities. Bemidji beat St. Cloud 3-2 along the way and over the weekend went 1-1-1, beating Osseo/Maple Grove 3-1, losing to Edina 6-3 and tying Chaska 3-3. The Lumberjacks lucky number must be three, scoring three goals in all four games. But Bemidji is a solid team and more than just a lucky number. Grand Rapids took on four of the top D10 teams, beating Blaine 4-3 in OT, losing to Andover 5-4, Centennial 6-2 and Elk River 5-1.

The Spirit of Duluth tourney hosts a 16-team pool play tourney. The tourney has drawn top teams, including Farmington, Wayzata, Rosemount and Edina. Both Duluth teams (Duluth East and Duluth Lakers) are entered. Owatonna has an interesting tourney with solid teams entered, including a surprising Princeton team, Crow River and the return of the Kansas City Stars (last year’s champion). Moorhead has only an eight-team tourney this year and has their two A teams entered in separate brackets. Andover returns to the Moorhead tourney.

North Regional (D12, D15, D16) - With three seeds to the North Regional for D12 and D16, Grand Rapids and Bemidji are looking good to make the trip to Moorhead in February. Both teams played some tough competition over the weekend and proved they will be competitive. Bemidji could be the best team in the Northwest. Moorhead Black (aka Moorhead 1) could be the challenger, but D15 gets two seeds. The Black have get through a tough D15 playoff first to get to Moorhead.

District 12 - While the Rapids traveled, Greenway played in the Hermantown tourney. They lost a tough opening game to Brainerd 4-3, lost to the Thunder Bay Kings 6-0 and beat Warroad. This week they have off. Hibbing beat Virginia in a D12 game 9-6 and lost to East Grand Forks 6-1. This week, the Bluejackets play Messabi East, Grand Rapids and International Falls. Eveleth-Gilbert played a round robin tourney at the Falls, losing twice to MAML 6-0 and 7-0, losing to the Falls 13-1 and losing to Fort Francis 7-2. The Golden Bears play Grand Rapids, Mesabi East and Proctor this week.

International Falls beat MAML 6-4 and played Fort Frances in the championship game of their tourney. Virginia beat Mesabi East 4-3, beat the Proctor Rails 5-4 and lost to East Grand Forks 8-0. Virginia heads to Rochester this week to play the Rochester Black and Rochester Gold (twice). Mesabi East, after being off last week, plays Eveleth and Grand Rapids in addition to Hibbing.

There is no change in this week in the seeds. Grand Rapids remains the #1 seed this week. The Thunderhawks passed a good early-season test on their trip through D10 last weekend. Hibbing remains the #2 seed and Greenway takes the #3 seed. International Falls always seem to start slow every year, but always contend at playoff time. It is a Bronco tradition that goes back to the 1950’s. But this year the Broncos seem to have put their team together earlier. Virginia’s visit to Rochester will be interesting. The Blue Devils seemed to be improving. Mesabi East is still an unknown as their season gets rolling; Eveleth is starting to struggle. Outside of Grand Rapids, this district remains wide open.

District 15 - Moorhead remains the dominant story in D15 so far this year. Moorhead Black is on top of the D15 league and Moorhead Orange is at the bottom of the D15 league. The Black have strung seven D15 wins together, two of those games are identical 1-0 wins over the Orange at the start of the season. Ten days ago, the Moorhead teams hosted Alexandria; Black beat Alex 8-2 and Alex beat Orange 8-3. Last week, Black beat Crookston 7-1, lost an OT game to Thief River Falls 7-6 and beat the Fargo Flyers 5-2.

Both Moorhead teams are in the Moorhead tourney this week. The Black play Mound/Westonka and the Orange play Grafton Park. Andover plays Crookston in the other bracket game with the Black team and Red Wing plays the Fargo Flyers Gold in the other bracket game with the Orange team. Fargo Gold had a good Burnsville Turkey Day tourney, beating Eastview 4-2 and Waconia 5-2 before losing to top-rated Rosemount 9-0. Andover has a separate game Friday with the Fargo Gold. Besides losing to Alex, Moorhead Orange lost 6-3 to Little Falls last week.

Alex played in the Hermantown tourney, losing to the Hawks 7-0, beating Warroad 8-2 and losing to the Thunder Bay Kings in the consolation finals 7-0. The Cardinals play two D15 games this week, Little Falls and Detroit Lakes. Brainerd also played in the Hermantown tourney. The Warriors beat Greenway 4-3, lost to the Duluth Lakers 3-1 and lost to Mounds View 4-0 in the third-place game. Brainerd returns to D15 action this week, playing Fergus Falls and Detroit Lakes. They also play a tough Bemidji team.

Fergus Falls played Moorhead Orange and West Fargo last week. This week the Otters play Little Falls in addition to Brainerd. Moorhead Black keeps the #1 seed this week; Brainerd takes the #2 seed. The Black are running away with the league, holding an 11-point lead over the nearest competitor. Brainerd played well at Hermantown, better then Alex, to take the #2 seed. Alex, Detroit Lakes and Fergus Falls could contend. They have in previous years.

District 16 - Bemidji made their statement on their trip south. They come to compete and have a solid team. The Lumberjacks play Brainerd, Thief River Falls and Red Lake Falls this week. Roseau opened their D16 season with wins over Crookston 6-3 and Red Lake Falls 12-1. Unfortunately they lost to Thief River Falls 6-4. This week they host East Grand Forks in one of the biggest rivalry games in the state.

EGF took a swing through Northeastern Minnesota last weekend, beating Hibbing 6-1 and Virginia 8-0 before losing to Duluth East 4-1. The Green Wave lost a key D16 game to Thief River Falls 7-3 before hitting the road. TRF had a great week with wins over EGF, Roseau and Moorhead Black. They will play Bemidji in a key early season D16 game and Warroad this week.

Crookston plays in the Moorhead tourney on the weekend, drawing one of the top teams in D10, Andover. Red Lake Falls beat Moorhead Orange last week and this week play EGF and Bemidji. Warroad had a tough tourney at Hermantown losing to Mounds View, Alexandria and Greenway. They play EGF and TRF.

The Lumberjacks keep the #1 seed. They are good. Roseau and TRF duked it out on Tuesday, the Prowlers won. They get the #2 seed. If they beat Bemidji this week, they get the #1 seed. Roseau gets the #3 seed.

South Regional (D4, D8, D9) - The headline in the South Regional this week is “Rosemount beats Wayzata.” What will the headline be next week after Farmington, Rosemount, Wayzata and Edina all tangle in the Duluth Spirit Tourney on the weekend?

District 4 - Redwood Falls was busy last week. The Cardinals lost to River Lakes 6-2 and played Marshall and Litchfield. Marshall played Hutchinson last week and will play them again this week. Luverne plays in the Owatonna tourney. They draw a tough Princeton team in the opener. The Luverne Cardinals lead the D9 West this week. They beat New Ulm 9-3 and beat Owatonna 5-4 in two D9 games last week. The #1 seed remains with Luverne and the #2 seed stays with Marshall.

District 8 - Rosemount and Farmington continue to be the teams in D8. Rosemount beat Wayzata 6-5 on the weekend and played great hockey. Their overall team play that showed awareness of open ice and an understanding of available passing lanes was excellent. It was needed to beat a very good Wayzata team. The Irish followed that up with a 10-0 D8 victory over IGH/SSP. In that game, the Irish beat a good team but showed none of the great team skill they had at Wayzata (for the Irish fans, don’t blame the kids, the Burnsville Blaze did the same thing against Shakopee).

Farmington’s scheduled game with Wayzata was “snowed out”; but the Tigers did beat Roseville 10-1 and Eastview 8-0 last week. Both Rosemount and Farmington play in the Spirit of Duluth Tourney on the weekend. Rosemount draws Duluth East, Osseo/Maple Grove and the Mpls Storm in pool play. Farmington draws the Duluth Lakers, Centennial and Edina.

IGH/SSP plays in the Owatonna tourney on the weekend. They draw Crow River in the opening game. Johnson/Como had a busy week. The Devils played in the Hudson tourney and lost three one goal games to Superior 2-1, to Madison West 4-3 in OT and to Mason City 5-4. They tied Eagan 0-0 in D8 action. This week the Devils travel to Albert Lea and play in their tourney. They draw Sioux Falls, Faribault and Albert Lea in pool play.

Lakeville North beat Apple Valley 6-2 and lost to Prior Lake 4-3 last week. The Panthers are 3-0 in D8 and play two D8 games (Eastview and Eagan) this week sandwiched around a trip to play the Rochester Red on their home ice. Lakeville South tied Hastings 4-4 last week and play Woodbury in their only game this week.

Woodbury beat Sibley 5-2 and Eastview 7-0 in two D8 games last week. The Predators play Hastings, Lakeville South and Eagan this week. Sibley played in the Hudson tourney on the weekend. They lost to Tartan, beat Eau Claire and beat West Madison 4-3 to take the consolation title. This week, the Generals have a single game with Highland.

Apple Valley lost to Roseville 9-3 last week. This week the Eagles play Hastings in a D8 game. Eastview has struggled in the last few weeks, losing last week to Woodbury and Farmington. It does not get any easier this week when the Lightning play Lakeville North. Eagan has a busy week playing Roseville, Lakeville North and Woodbury.

Farmington remains the #1 seed and the Irish take the #2 seed. These two teams are on the verge of winning their first 13 games and being unbeaten when they play each other in February. But this week, the Spirit of Duluth tourney will settle some of the bragging rights between these two teams.

In a D8 scheduling quirk, Woodbury could be 12-1 entering the last week of D8 and in a position to win the league title. They can get to 12-1 without having to play Rosemount or Farmington. If they are 12-1, they play Rosemount four days before the Rosemount/Farmington game and play Farmington the day after that game. The Predators take the #3 seed and will have a say in the league championship if they can continue to win their games.

Lakeville North is playing well and is also unbeaten in league play. If the Panthers can get by Lakeville South in two weeks, they could be 10-0 playing Rosemount with a similar record in late January. The Panthers play Rosemount, Woodbury and Farmington once in D8 play and could be a wild card surprise in early February. Lakeville South and Hastings continue to improve and Sibley still looks tough.

District 9 - In D9, the story is Rochester. The Rochester Red team continues to play an independent schedule while Rochester Black and Gold play a D9 schedule. The Red lost two games last week to White Bear Lake 5-4 and Centennial 5-2. They will host Lakeville North and Tartan this week. Last week, Rochester Black lost a D9 game to Red Wing 4-2 and beat Austin 7-3. The Gold lost a D9 game to Northfield 2-0 and lost to Red Wing 10-8. Both the Gold and Black host Virginia this week. The Gold has D9 games with Austin and Northfield. The Black and Gold play each other in a D9 game this week.

Northfield and Red Wing made a move last week in D9 play and put some distance between themselves and the rest of the East Division teams. The Raiders beat Faribault 5-2 besides Rochester Gold. Red Wing beat Rochester Black 4-2, lost to New Ulm 4-1 and beat Rochester Gold. Red Wing travels to Moorhead to play in their tourney; they open bracket play against Fargo. Northfield hosts Armstrong and Apple Valley this weekend and play at Rochester Gold and Red Wing.

Dodge County played Faribault last week and this week travel to Albert Lea to play in Albert Lea’s tourney. The Bulldogs draw Mankato, the Quad Cities and Omaha Jr. Lancers in pool play. The Jr. Lancers played in Spring Lake Park’s tourney a month ago and improved as the tourney went on, losing to Waconia 5-0, Sauk Rapids 7-4 and Princeton 3-2.

Albert Lea is hosting an eight-team tourney. Dodge County, Mankato, Quad Cities and the Omaha Jr. Lancers are in one pool; Albert Lea, Johnson/Como, Faribault and Sioux Falls Blue are in the other pool. Sioux Falls Blue had a good Mankato tourney at Thanksgiving and played well in the Fargo Freeze tourney last week, pushing the Fargo Angels before losing 8-5, losing to the Mandan Braves 5-1, beating D5 Sartell 2-1 and beating the Fargo Flyers Black 3-2.

For those who don’t know, the Fargo Angels are made up of kids going to private school and the Fargo Flyers and Fargo Raiders are kids going to public school. There is a second hockey association in Fargo, the West Fargo association, that draws kids that are in the West Fargo High School Area.

In the D9 East Division, Northfield and Red Wing look to draw away from the other for teams. Dodge County and Austin will contend and Rochester Black and Rochester Gold teams are struggling.

Luverne beat Owatonna, putting the Cardinals on top of the D9 West this week (the Cardinals are a D4 team playing in D9 as guests and are discussed under District 4). Mankato lost to Owatonna 4-2 and beat Albert Lea 8-4 last week. This week the Mavericks play in Albert Lea’s tourney. Faribault will join them.

Owatonna has a good tournament this year. Last year’s winner, the Kansas City Stars, is entered, but they will have a tougher tourney this year. Owatonna hosts D6 Waconia and Princeton plays Luverne in one bracket; Crow River plays IGH/SSP and the Stars play Kennedy. Kennedy has lost three tough D6 games in a row by narrow margins (Shakopee 4-3, Minnetonka 3-0 and Chaska 5-2) and is ready for a change. The Stars won at Mankato on turkey day, beating Shakopee 8-3. They are ranked in the top 30 of over 300 Tier II AA hockey teams in the nation.

Owatonna is 6-3 in their last nine games and Waconia is coming off a disappointing two loses to the Mpls Storm and Minnetonka in a D6 game. This will be an interesting game and could change the season around for a good Waconia team. Princeton, Crow River, IGH/SSP and Luverne are all tough teams and are playing well going into the tourney.

New Ulm, after upsetting Red Wing last week, hosts Armstrong in an interesting game this weekend.

D9 is still a wide open district and with at least three seeds to the South Regional, it is far too early to pick which teams will go, but it must be done each week. This week, the #1 seed goes to Northfield. The Raiders are 4-0 in the D9 East (6-1 overall). But Armstrong and Apple Valley will test them this week. The #2 seed goes to Red Wing, but they will be tested at Moorhead. The old zinc penny came out and in a coin flip between Owatonna and Mankato, Owatonna won and gets the #3 seed this week.

East Regional (D2, D10, D11) - D11 has the tourney this week, the Spirit of Duluth. Sixteen teams descend on the twin port cities of Duluth and Superior. The tournament has four pools with three D11 teams, Duluth Lakers, Duluth East and Superior each hosting their own pool. The Duluth Lakers have the unenviable task of playing Edina, Farmington and Centennial in their pool play and if the schedule holds, Edina and Farmington play each other at 7 a.m., Saturday in what should be one of the best games in the state this week. Duluth East draws Osseo/Maple Grove, Mpls Storm and Rosemount. Superior draws Wayzata, Blaine and White Bear Lake. The last pool matches Stillwater, the Thunder Bay Kings, Eden Prairie and Elk River.

District 2 - Hudson hosted their 10-team PeeWee A tourney over the weekend that included five Wisconsin AA PeeWee 1A teams (West Madison, Fox Valley, Eau Claire, Superior and Hudson). West Madison and Fox Valley are ranked in the top 40 (of over 300 teams) nationally. Three D2 teams were entered (Mahtomedi, Tartan and Hudson), one Iowa team (Mason City) and two D8 teams (Sibley and Johnson/Como). Hudson won the tourney, beating Eau Claire 9-0, Fox Valley 5-1, Tartan 5-1 and Mahtomedi 2-1. Tartan took third, beating Fox Valley 5-0 to give the three D2 teams the top three places.

Hudson was tied with Roseville on top of the D2 standings. They beat Tartan 3-2 last week, but lost to White Bear Lake 3-0 in D2 action. This week Hudson plays Highland. Roseville beat Highland 4-0 in their only D2 game this week, lost big to Farmington 10-1 and beat Apple Valley 9-3. The Farmington score is surprising. Roseville is a tough team. They play Mahtomedi this week.

In addition to beating Hudson, White Bear Lake hosted Rochester Red, beating them 5-4 in OT. The Bears join Stillwater and head to the Spirit of Duluth Tourney this weekend. White Bear Lake draws Wayzata, Blaine and Superior in pool play. The Ponies draw the Thunder Bay Kings, Eden Prairie and Elk River in pool play. Last week the Ponies played Tartan and Highland. Tartan beat Sibley in their opening game at Hudson, lost to Hudson 5-1 and came back to beat Fox Valley 5-0 to take third place. Tartan plays Mounds View and Rochester Red this week.

Mahtomedi opened last week beating Mounds View 4-3 in a D2 game and then took second in the Hudson tourney, beating West Madison 4-3 and Superior before losing to Hudson 2-1 in the championship game. Mounds View didn’t let the loss to the Zephyrs slow them at the Hermantown tourney. The Mustangs beat Warroad 8-1, lost a tough OT game to Hermantown 4-3 and beat Brainerd 4-0 to take third place. Highland lost to Prior Lake 8-1 in addition to losing to Roseville. The Caps have three home games this week, Sibley and two D2 games with Hudson and Forest Lake. After a week off, Forest Lake gets back into action, playing St. Louis Park in addition to Highland.

Roseville’s 10-1 loss to Farmington was stunning, but it will take more losses than that to knock the Raiders out of the #1 seed. Two weeks ago, White Bear Lake stunned Elk River in the opener of pool play at Eden Prairie and then lost their next two games. This week, the Bears draw Wayzata in the opener followed by Blaine. They will be tested. Stillwater has really struggled this year and the pool at Duluth will tough. The Bears take the #2 seed. The #3 is a coin flip. Highland has struggled, Tartan has been up and down, but the Mustangs made a respectable showing at Hermantown. Mounds View takes the #3 this week.

District 10 - If Irondale was surprising two weeks ago, then Princeton deserves to be called surprising this week. The Tigers looked to have potential a month ago at the Spring Lake Park tourney. This week, they strung three good D10 games together, tying Centennial 1-1 and Anoka 1-1 and beating Irondale 3-0. Irondale lost to Elk River 4-0 and played St. Francis last week in addition to losing to Princeton.

Champlin Park had a good week also. The Rebels, coming off a tough OT loss to Cloquet at the Super Rink tourney two weeks ago, beat Andover 5-0, Spring Lake Park 2-1 and Rogers 4-1. Those three wins put the Rebels in first place in D10.

Elk River strung three wins together last week, beating Irondale, Grand Rapids 5-1 and Andover 5-1. The Elks head to Duluth and the Spirit tourney this week. They draw Eden Prairie, Stillwater and the Thunder Bay Kings in pool play. Blaine and Centennial join the Elks at Duluth.

Blaine plays Princeton before heading to Duluth. The Bengals draw Wayzata, White Bear Lake and Superior in pool play. Blaine lost to Wayzata in the first game of the season for each team (sort of a game since penalties were called, but the teams did not skate shorthanded). Their game in Duluth will be an interesting re-match. Blaine is coming off a third-place finish at Burnsville (behind Rosemount and Burnsville) and Wayzata is coming off a first-place finish at Eden Prairie two weeks ago. The Bengals play St. Francis when they return.

Centennial played hard in the Burnsville tourney and then last week ran into 1-1 ties with Princeton and Rogers. They beat Grand Rapids 6-2 and beat Rochester Red (at Rochester) 5-2 last week. At the Spirit this week, Centennial draws two heavyweights, Farmington and Edina in pool play. The Duluth Lakers are the third team in the pool and the Lakers finished second at Hermantown last week.

Andover also played Grand Rapids last week. The Huskies beat the Thunderhawks 5-4 and beat St. Francis 4-0 in a D10 game. They lost to Elk River and Spring Lake Park. This week the Huskies travel to Moorhead to play in the Spuds tourney. They draw Crookston in the opening round and play a game with the Fargo Gold.

Anoka tied Princeton, lost to St. Cloud 6-4 and played Blaine last week. The Tornadoes continue to be busy in D10 playing three games this week (Rogers, Irondale, and Champlin Park). Coon Rapids played in the Orono tourney over the weekend losing to Orono 5-4, to Hutchinson 6-2, and Buffalo 3-1. The Rapids play Rogers this week. Rogers beat St. Francis 7-0 and lost to Champlin Park besides tying Centennial.

This week, the top two seeds in D10 are unchanged. Centennial takes the #1 seed this week. Elk River takes the #2 seed. Andover, however, takes the #3 seed. Blaine lost to Grand Rapids and Andover beat Grand Rapids.

Centennial, Elk River and Blaine play in the Duluth tourney. Centennial has the most difficult pool and will really be tested, playing Edina and Farmington. Blaine will be challenged by Wayzata, but a good game against the Trojans should give the Bengals a chance to play Sunday. Elk River will battle Eden Prairie. Andover plays at Moorhead and the Huskies have done well at Moorhead the past two years. Champlin Park, Anoka, Princeton and Rogers are all in contention in a wide open D10 league.

District 11 - Hermantown won their own tourney last week, giving the Hawks a tourney championship and a tourney second-place finish in the last three weeks. They won their tourney by beating another D11 team, the Duluth Lakers, in the championship game 5-2. They lost the Superior championship game to Cloquet three weeks ago. The Hawks beat Alexandria 7-0 and Mounds View 4-3 to get to the Hermantown championship game. The Duluth Lakers beat the Thunder Bay Kings 2-1 in OT and Brainerd 3-1 to get to the Championship game.

The Hawks play Greenway and Cloquet this week. The Lakers play in the Spirit of Duluth tourney. They draw Farmington, Edina and Centennial in pool play (all top teams in their districts). Duluth East plays in the Spirit also and draw Osseo/Maple Grove, Mpls Storm and Rosemount. Rosemount is playing well entering the tourney. The question is will they be fully manned? The Hounds had the last week off and will play Proctor in addition to the Spirit tourney.

Superior plays D11 hockey and they played in the Hudson tourney last week, beating Johnson/Como 2-1, losing to Mahtomedi and losing to Fox Valley Wisconsin 4-0. They play in the Spirit and draw Wayzata, White Bear Lake and Blaine.

Cloquet had last week off and play Hermantown in their only game this week. Proctor lost to Virginia 5-4 last week. This week the Rails play Eveleth besides playing Duluth East.

This week the #1 seed goes to Hermantown and Cloquet takes the #2 seed. The two teams will settle who is No. 1 when they play each other this week. The Duluth Lakers and Duluth East will be tested in the Spirit and a good showing by either team could change things in D11. The Proctor Rails keep playing tough and practice regularly outdoors. Go Rails. The Detroit Lakes tourney is in two weeks.

West Regional (D3, D5, D6) - There are a host of teams battling for a spot in the West Regional. The only thing close to a sure bet are the Wayzata Trojans and they have to be careful because D3 has only two regional seeds. A single loss at the wrong moment in the D3 playoffs could knock them out. Crow River has been playing well in D3 and took the Orono tourney title last week.

In D5, STMA and St. Cloud continue to battle for the #1 seed; but with three seeds available anything goes. Over in D6, Burnsville is looking to put some distance between them and the rest of the league in December. Edina, Eden Prairie, Prior Lake, Minnetonka and Chaska are looking to challenge.

District 3 - Both Osseo/Maple Grove and Wayzata have 5-0 records and are on top D3 standings this week. But Wayzata has managed only one “unfair play point” and are essentially one game behind OMG. OMG beat St. Louis Park 5-1 in league action last week. They also lost to Bemidji 3-1. Wayzata beat Armstrong 7-2 last week and lost to Rosemount.

Both teams head to Duluth this week. In the Spirit, Wayzata draws White Bear Lake, Blaine and Superior. OMG draws Duluth East, Rosemount and another D3 team, Mpls Storm. The Mpls Storm lost to OMG 4-1 three weeks ago. They beat Waconia 3-0 and lost to Mound/Westonka 2-1 last week. The Storm play Hopkins this week after they return from Duluth.

Crow River took the Orono tourney, beating Buffalo 6-0, the Wausau Warjacks 2-0 and Orono 5-2. The Tigers head to Owatonna to play in a tough Owatonna Tourney. They open play against a IGH/SSP team rebounding from a tough loss to Rosemount. If the Tigers win that game, they will play either the Kansas City Stars or Kennedy. The Tigers play Hopkins in a D3 game this week.

Orono took second in their tourney by beating Hutchinson 7-1 and Coon Rapids 5-4. The Spartans play Mound/Westonka this week.

After the Orono game, Mound/Westonka heads for Moorhead and draws Moorhead Black in the opening game. That will test the Whitehawks. Hopkins upended the Whitehawks 3-2 for their first D3 win last week. St. Louis Park after being off last week, play three games this week, Forest Lake, Shakopee and Coon Rapids. Armstrong beat Hopkins 4-2 besides losing to Wayzata. Armstrong travels to D9 playing Northfield, New Ulm and at Mankato. They return home to play Mound/Westonka.

The ratings this week are unchanged; Wayzata takes the #1 and OMG the #2. Mpls Storm has shown they can compete and will get their chances again in the Spirit, especially against a tough Rosemount team. Crow River continues to develop as a team and have a good shot at winning in Owatonna, but it will not be easy. Armstrong continues to work hard. Things could get interesting in D3 yet.

District 5 - St. Cloud and STMA have perfect records in D5 play after four games. They are tied on top of D5 this week. St. Cloud was busy last week. They beat Anoka 6-4, beat Willmar 12-2, lost to Bemidji 3-2 and played Hutchinson. This week St. Cloud plays River Lakes, MAML and Buffalo in D5 action. STMA beat Sauk Rapids 12-0 last week and this week play MAML, Litchfield and Hutchinson.

Hutchinson played in the Orono tourney last week. The Tigers beat Coon Rapids 6-2, lost to Orono 7-1 (on a snowy Friday night) and lost to the Wausau Warjacks 6-0. Sartell played in the Fargo Face Off tourney over the weekend. They played the Mandan Braves, the Fargo Angels, lost to the Sioux Falls Blue 2-1 and beat the Fargo Raiders 6-5. The Sabres play Willmar and MAML this week.

Buffalo also played at Orono. The Bison lost to Crow River 6-0, the Wausau Warjacks 6-3 and beat Coon Rapids 3-1. They play River Lakes and St. Cloud this week. MAML traveled to International Falls. They beat Eveleth twice 6-0, lost to the Falls 6-4, and lost to Fort Frances 7-6. The Moose return to D5 this week to play the top three teams in D5 standings, STMA, Sartell and St. Cloud. These are key games for the Moose.

River Lakes had a good week, beating Sauk Rapids 5-3, Redwood Falls 6-2 and tying Willmar 2-2. They play St. Cloud and STMA this week. Willmar also tied Litchfield/Dassel/Cokato 4-4 besides losing to St. Cloud. They play Sartell and Hutchinson this week before heading to Detroit Lakes next week to play in their tourney.

St. Cloud and STMA will not play each other in D5 until mid-January. Both teams are on a path to be unbeaten and both have perfect records (all their “unfairplay” points). STMA had an off week playing only one game; St. Cloud had a busy week playing four games, but lost one (to Bemidji). STMA keeps the #1 seed; St. Cloud keeps the #2 seed. MAML and Sartell need to continue to improve. River Lakes had a good week. Buffalo and Hutchinson are struggling and Willmar has shown some signs of improving. Still MAML takes the #3 seed this week.

District 6 - Burnsville added three more D6 wins last week, beating Chaska 3-2, Jefferson 6-0 and Shakopee 7-4. In the Shakopee game the Blaze were more like a dying campfire; smoldering and smoking, but no flames and no sparks. Both Burnsville and Shakopee came out flat and both played an uninspired first period. The Sabres gave the Blaze far more respect than they deserved. And the Blaze sort of just skated around. They led 2-1 at the end of the first and were finally shocked into starting to play when the Sabres tied the game 2-2 at the halfway mark. It was triggered by a Shakopee defenseman walking around a Blaze forward from the blue line and driving the puck into the goal.

A few minutes later, a Blaze forward put the puck on the goalie from the left faceoff, skated to the center slot and one-timed his own rebound into the net. Four seconds later, they added a fourth goal on a rush off the center faceoff. Trailing 5-2 halfway through the third period, a Sabres forward skated through two Burnsville players out of the corner to the slot and backhanded the puck by the goalie to make it a 5-3 game. A few minutes later, on a two-on-one, a Sabre forward used the other forward to set up a high upper right corner shot to cut the lead to 5-4.

At that point, the Blaze finally came alive and held the Sabres in their own defensive zone for the last few minutes, adding two goals. The final score was 7-4. That puts the Blaze at a perfect 8-0 as they roll through December. Shakopee plays Edina this week.

Edina beat Bemidji 6-3 last week in the Hornets' only game. This week they head to Duluth and will play Farmington in pool play. They also play Centennial and the Duluth Lakers. The Hornets play Prior Lake when they return from Duluth. Eden Prairie joins the Hornets at Duluth, playing the Thunder Bay Kings, Stillwater and Elk River in pool play. Eden Prairie returns to play a tough Minnetonka team. The Eagles beat Chaska 7-1 and played Jefferson last week.

Minnetonka beat Kennedy 3-0 and Waconia 7-1. The Skippers are unbeaten in D6 (the only blemish is a 3-3 tie with Eden Prairie) and play Jefferson in addition to a return match with Eden Prairie. Chaska, besides losing to Eden Prairie, beat Kennedy 5-2, tied Bemidji 3-3, and lost to Prior Lake 7-0 last week. Prior Lake had a good week. The Lakers beat Shakopee 3-2 and Lakeville North 4-3 besides beating Chaska. This week, they play Jefferson, Spring Lake Park and Edina. Shakopee beat Kennedy 4-3 besides losing to Prior Lake and Burnsville.

Waconia lost to the Mpls Storm 3-0 last week in addition to losing to Tonka. This week, they head to Owatonna to play in their tourney. They draw the host in Friday’s quarterfinal game. Kennedy joins them and will play a tough Kansas City Stars team in the opening game.

Burnsville continues to win, but did not impress this week. After beating top ranked opposition in a two-week stint, they have come back to earth and just won their last three games (Chaska, Jefferson and Shakopee). Still, a coach has a hard time complaining about winning.

The Blaze take the #1 seed. Minnetonka takes the #2 seed this week in a surprising move. The Skippers had some injuries over the past few weeks, but are positioning themselves to make a run at the top. The Skippers have played well and hold the season wins over the Hornets and Rosemount. Hopefully they will be fully manned when they play Eden Prairie this week.

Edina takes the #3 seed and is approaching the halfway mark in the season, facing tough competition at Duluth, in D6 and at their tourney over the Christmas holidays. They will be tested.

D6 is turning into a five-team race (Burnsville, Minnetonka, Edina, Eden Prairie and Prior Lake) for the top two spots. Finishing first or second gets a first-round bye in the D6 playoff. Chaska is a dangerous up-and-down team that is languishing in last place in D6. Burnsville could be playing an unbeaten Minnetonka on Jan. 2, 2011, if the Skippers beat Eden Prairie this week.

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