Sometimes as a nation, Americans wonder why things happen. And sometimes out of nowhere a simple thing can bring life back to focus. Always at the arena, look at what surrounds you. If you listen or watch, you can often find one of those simple things.
That happened last Sunday at the Coon Rapids arena. It was the first game of a tourney for that day. And a little girl, dressed in coat and hat, sat down to eat a brunch from a fast food place in the stands in front of her mother. She meticulously removed each item from the bag and set it on the empty row of seats at her mother’s feet as young hockey players took the ice amid the fans cheering and the music playing.
Her back was to the ice. The kids skated the warm-ups, the announcer called the starting players and the little girl continued to eat, oblivious to what was going on behind her and around her until the kids stood at the blue line for the national anthem and her mother stood. In the quieting arena, she stopped eating, stood up, turned to face the flag with her hand on her heart and removed her hat. She stood until the music stopped, put the hat on her head, and turned back to her food as the puck dropped and the game began. She never said a word and nobody said anything to her. She just did it.
It was a simple thing, but the little girl made me feel proud to be an American and gave me comfort knowing that there would be future proud to be an American people.
North Regional (D12, D15, D16) - Each district in this region had tourneys last week. Hibbing hosted D15 teams, D10 teams and one D8 team. IGH/SSP from D8 won the tourney, beating Irondale from D10. Brainerd had top D12 team Grand Rapids, one of the top D2 teams in Hudson, the top-ranked North Dakota team in the Grand Forks Seawolves and one of the top D10 teams in Blaine. Grand Rapids won 4-3, beating Hudson in an overtime/shootout game. Thief River Falls had an eight-team tourney that had pitted D16 teams against North Dakota, D5, D6 and Manitoba teams. The two North Dakota teams won. Mandan beat Minot Sabres 3-2.
The separation noticed last week among the 20+ teams in this regional is still there. D12 Grand Rapids, D15 Moorhead Black and Bemidji remain track and continue to improve. Thief River Falls stumbled a little, but still look strong. East Grand Forks and Roseau have improved their play. The D15 team that showed the most improvement this week was the Northern Lakes team. The #2 D15 seed is up for grabs. The two remaining D12 seeds are wide open. There are North Regional seeds available to teams that are playing at their best in a month.
District 12 - Grand Rapids continues to win. The Thunderhawks took the Brainerd Tourney championship by beating Blaine 6-5, Rochester Red 6-5 and Hudson 4-3. The semifinal and championship games were overtime/shootout affairs. Grand Rapids also beat Cloquet 5-1 and lost to Bemidji 4-3 last week. This week the Thunderhawks play Virginia and Greenway in D12 games.
Hibbing hosted their PeeWee A tourney last weekend. In pool play, the Bluejackets beat Eveleth and Moorhead Orange 10-0, and lost to Irondale 5-4. In the third-place game on Sunday, the Bluejackets lost Princeton 2-1 in OT. Eveleth and Greenway also played at the Hibbing tourney. The Golden Bears lost to Irondale 12-1, Moorhead Orange and Hibbing in pool play. Greenway lost to Princeton 4-0 and Inver Grove Heights/South St. Paul 6-1 in pool play. IGH/SSP won the championship.
Virginia lost to Hermantown 9-1, tied Proctor 3-3, and played Mesabi East last week. This week the Blue Devils play Eveleth and Grand Rapids in D12 games. International Falls crossed the bridge to Fort Frances to play in their tourney last weekend. This week the Broncos play at Hibbing and entertain Eveleth. Mesabi East played in the Little Falls tourney last weekend and lost a close game to Northern Lakes 4-3. They also played Little Falls and Shakopee. The Giants are busy this week playing Superior, Virginia, Proctor and Hibbing.
Grand Rapids remains on top in D12 and takes the #1 seed to the North Regional this week. Hibbing pushed Irondale and Princeton, losing both games a single goal. The Bluejackets take the #2 seed. International Falls takes the #3 seed, but both Virginia and Greenway will challenge for a seed if they continue to improve. Mesabi East has shown improvement.
District 15 - Moorhead Black plays two games this week against D15 rivals Alexandria and Fergus Falls. Last week the Black played East Grand Forks and the Fargo Flyers. Moorhead Orange has three D15 games this week, playing Little Falls, Northern Lakes and Brainerd. Last week the Orange played in the Hibbing tourney, losing to Irondale 3-2, Hibbing 10-0 and played Eveleth in pool play.
Detroit Lakes also played at Hibbing. In pool play the Lakers lost to IGH/SSP 10-3, lost to Princeton 3-0 and played Greenway. The Lakers play Brainerd and the Fargo Angels this week. Brainerd hosted a tough tourney this week. They lost their opening game to Hudson 2-0 (Hudson currently is tied with Roseville atop D2), beat Eagan 5-2 and lost to Blaine 6-1 in the consolation championship game. Northern Lakes lost to Brainerd just after the New Year 3-2 in OT. Northern Lakes played in the Little Falls tourney. In tourney action, the Lightning tied Shakopee 4-4, beat Mesabi East 4-3 and beat Little Falls 3-2.
Alexandria started the New Year with a nice 5-0 win over Brainerd and then last week traveled to play in Anoka’s tourney. The Cardinals lost 7-0 to a tough Stillwater team in their opening game. They came back to play a good Mahtomedi close before losing 2-1. They ended their tourney playing St. Louis Park. The Cardinals play Fergus Falls besides playing Moorhead Black this week.
Fergus Falls played in the Thief River Falls tourney over the weekend. The Otters lost to TRF 6-2, lost to the Minot Sabres and played Warroad. This week they play Alexandria and the Fargo Flyers.
Fergus Falls, Brainerd and Alexandria are locked in a struggle for second place in D15 behind Moorhead Black. The Black and Brainerd keep their seeds this week. The Black takes the #1 seed and the Warriors take the #2 seed.
District 16 - Thief River Falls hosted their tourney this week. The Prowlers beat Warroad 10-2, lost to Minot Sabres, beat Fergus Falls 6-2 and lost to Roseau 7-4 in the third-place game. They also beat Crookston 7-1 last week in D16 action. The Prowlers play Crookston and Roseau again this week as they get ready to play in the Rams' tourney in 10 days.
Bemidji lost a tough game in the championship game of their own tourney New Year’s weekend, but didn’t hesitate getting “back on the horse” or “out in the woods” (if you are a Lumberjack). The Lumberjacks played two tough teams last week, beating Grand Rapids 4-3 and East Grand Forks 5-3. This week, it doesn’t get any better when they head to St. Cloud to play in the Geyer Tourney. They draw Farmington in the opener in what is probably the best game this week. They also play Sartell and Andover in pool play.
The Prowlers and the Lumberjacks are tied for first in D16 as the season winds down. TRF has four games left, Bemidji has five games. The Prowlers need to beat the Lumberjacks when they meet at the end of January and they will need help from another D16 team to take the D16 title this year.
Roseau beat MAML 8-5 and tied Mandan (ND) 2-2 and Beausejour (Manitoba) 1-1 in their pool play at Thief River Falls. The Rams play Grafton (ND) and Red Lake Falls this week besides hosting TRF. Red Lake Falls has a busy week. playing four D16 games (Crookston, Warroad and EGF, besides Roseau). East Grand Forks plays Warroad and Fargo Gold in addition to the Falls. The Rams and the Green Wave are in a battle for third place in D16 as the season enters the last month of play.
Bemidji takes the #1 seed this week. They scored two impressive wins last week. Thief River Falls takes the #2 seed this week. Despite not losing a D16 game in December, the Prowlers are starting to struggle. But TRF will have their chances for revenge when the play the Rams this week in D16 action. As the season winds down, the difference between teams can narrow; that is what happened with East Grand Forks and Roseau. The Green Wave lost to Bemidji and the Rams beat TRF in their tourney. It makes the #3 seed a tough decision, but not enough to pull out the old zinc penny. EGF keeps the #3 seed.
South Regional (D4, D8, D9) - The headlines died down this week. Farmington beat Wayzata 5-3 for the second time in a week and then beat Burnsville 7-3. With all the snow on the ground, it is appropriate to declare the Tigers “King of the Hill.” With that title, Tiger wins are now expected to mount. One of the reasons for the Tigers' anointment is the 3-2 loss Rosemount took in the championship game at Anoka.
D4 has allocated one of its seeds to D8/D9. D8 and D9 each have three seeds and D4 had two. District 9 playoffs will be a double elimination tourney starting Thursday, Feb. 17, and will finish the following Sunday, Feb. 20. District 8 playoffs will begin Sunday, Feb. 20. The fourth-place finishers in both tourneys will meet for a play-in game to the South Regional. The D8 fourth place finisher will be decided around 1:00 p.m., Feb. 27. The site of the play-in game is unknown.
District 4 - Luverne took the lead in the D9 West last week by beating Albert Lea 14-4 and New Ulm 9-2. This week the Cardinals host Faribault. The Cardinals' lead in the West is challenged by Owatonna and Mankato. A win over Faribault this week will eliminate the Huskies. They could not catch Luverne. It also sets up the Jan. 30, game in Mankato as the regular season championship game.
Redwood Falls had their tourney last week. River Lakes, Willmar and Marshall entered. Redwood Falls lost to River Lakes 5-3, Willmar 5-1, and played Marshall. This week, RWF travels to New Ulm for their tourney. They play New Ulm and St. Louis Park in pool play. Marshall lost to River Lakes 4-0 and beat Willmar 5-3 in the RWF tourney last week. They also play at New Ulm and draw Sibley and St. Francis in pool play.
Luverne remains the favorite to take the lone D4 seed to the South Regional.
District 8 - Despite Rosemount’s loss at Anoka, the Irish remain undefeated and in a tie with Farmington for first in D8. At Anoka, the Irish got to the finals by beating two D2 teams, Mahtomedi 7-0 and Stillwater 5-0. The Irish return to D8 action this week playing Hastings and Lakeville North. They also have a return match with Edina.
Farmington sandwiched a 6-0 D8 win over Apple Valley between their wins over Wayzata and Burnsville last week. This week Farmington heads to St. Cloud to play in their tourney. They open pool play against Bemidji and then play Andover and Sartell.
Lakeville North, as predicted, has quietly been winning their D8 games. Last week, the Panthers won two more D8 games, beating Sibley 7-0 and Eagan 3-0 to avenge their only D8 loss. They did lose to Prior Lake 7-4. The Panthers play in Fargo’s tourney this week and return home to play Rosemount. They open play against the Dakota Lazers. If the Panthers make it to the semifinals, they could end up playing the Wayzata Blue B1 team.
Until this week, Lakeville South has matched the Panthers D8 win for D8 win with the only Cougar D8 loss being to the Panthers 3-2. South won four times last week, beating Sibley 7-0 and Hastings 8-1 in D8 play and beating Owatonna 10-3 and Armstrong 8-3. But they lost a key D8 game to Woodbury 5-0. The Cougars have a single D8 game this week against Eagan.
Woodbury showed significant improvement in their win over Lakeville South. The Predators also played a weekend series with St. Cloud last week, winning the first game 6-4 and tying the second 1-1. This week, they play Prior Lake and Rochester Red.
Inver Grove Heights/South St. Paul won the Hibbing tourney. They beat Detroit Lakes 10-3, Princeton 4-1 and Greenway 6-1 in pool play. In the championship game, IGH/SSP beat Irondale 2-1. This week they play two D8 games with Hastings. Eastview tied Inver Grove Heights/South St. Paul last week. The Lightning play Sibley this week and then travel to Rochester to play in their tourney. They draw the Rochester Black, Mankato, and Jefferson in pool play.
Johnson/Como played in the Northfield Showdown tourney. They beat Northfield 4-2, lost to Tartan 7-2 and beat Austin 8-2 for third place. Eagan played in Brainerd’s tourney, losing to the Grand Forks Seawolves 6-0, Brainerd 5-2 and played the Duluth Lakers. The Wildcats play Lakeville South, Moundsview and Apple Valley this week.
Johnson/Como hosts the Governor’s Cup tourney this week. They open play against Waconia. Irondale plays Kennedy in the other bracket game. Armstrong plays Coon Rapids and Mounds View plays River Lakes in the upper bracket.
Sibley and Apple Valley travel to New Ulm to play in their tourney. Sibley plays Marshall and Dodge County in pool play on Saturday. Apple Valley plays Crow River and Austin. Hastings plays Rosemount besides the two games with IGH/SSP this week.
Farmington and Rosemount are on track to finish the D8 league play with 45 points. Woodbury is on track to finish with around 40 points. Lakeville South and Lakeville North look to finish around 35 points. Eastview, Sibley, IGH/SSP and Hastings can finish around 30 points. But not all of the teams will since they play each other.
The IGH/SSP games with Hastings this week will be key games for both teams. The teams that can finish with around 30 points will take the #6 and #7 seeds into the D8 playoffs and have a better chance to make it to the final game for the third seed on Feb. 27, and a guaranteed ticket to the Regional or to the Regional play-in game. The loser of that game plays in a play-in game for the South Regional against the fourth-place D9 team that could be Dodge County or New Ulm or Austin, D9 teams playing at New Ulm. That is what makes the New Ulm tourney interesting this week.
Both Rosemount and Farmington will be playing more D8 games in the next few weeks. So anything can happen. But right now the D8 race is headed to that showdown game Feb. 12, at Rosemount.
The seeds this week are changed. Farmington beat two good teams last week, and the Irish faltered at Anoka. Farmington takes the top seed. The #2 seed goes to Rosemount. The #3 seed remains with Woodbury. The play-in game seed goes to Lakeville South by virtue of stringing four wins together last week. The Cougars played tough in losing to an improving Woodbury team.
District 9 - Things were disappointing for D9 teams playing in the Northfield tourney. Of the four teams entered, only Austin advanced past the quarterfinal round of bracket play. Northfield lost to Johnson/Como 4-2, lost to Faribault 3-2 and beat a shorthanded Red Wing team (missing four players) 6-1. Faribault lost their first game to Tartan 8-0 and went on take the Consolation Championship beating Fremont Nebraska 4-2. Austin beat Fremont 6-3, lost to Orono 10-1 and Johnson/Como 8-2 in the third-place game. Northfield returns to D9 action playing Red Wing this week. Faribault plays Luverne and Albert Lea.
Rochester Black had a rough week, losing three D9 games. The Black lost to Mankato 7-4, Dodge County 4-3 and Austin 1-0. That ended their title hopes in the D9 East. They trail Northfield in the standings by four points with three games to go. Last week, they also tied Rochester Gold.
But the Black remain in the middle of the chase for second place. They play Red Wing in D9 this week and then join the Rochester Gold and Rochester Red teams in hosting Rochester’s PeeWee A tourney. Each team has their own pool. The Black draw Eastview, Mankato and Jefferson in pool play; the Gold draw Albert Lea, Champlin Park and Centennial; and the Red draw Quad City, Mound Westonka and Owatonna.
Rochester Gold, besides tying the Black, tied Dodge County 5-5 and lost to Owatonna 7-3. Rochester Red, playing an independent schedule and no D9 games, played at Brainerd, beating the Duluth Lakers 7-2, losing to Grand Rapids 6-5 in an overtime/shootout game, and losing to the top rated (North Dakota) Grand Forks Seawolves 4-1 in the third-place game. In addition to playing in their tourney, the Red hosts Woodbury this week.
Dodge County and Austin play in the New Ulm tourney this week. Dodge County plays St. Francis and Sibley in pool play; the Packers play Crow River and Apple Valley.
Red Wing has a better record in the D9 East than every team except Northfield, but has lost five of their nine “unfairplay” points to lock the Wingers into a battle for second.
Luverne is a D4 team playing as a guest in D9. The Cardinals lead In the D9 West but are playing in the D4 playoffs. Owatonna and Mankato are in a battle for the West #1 seed to the D9 playoffs. The Mavericks have the advantage (playing three less games). New Ulm looks to have the third spot with Albert Lea and Faribault fighting it out for fourth or fifth.
Owatonna beat Rochester Gold last week. They have two D9 games left (Rochester Gold and Faribault). Owatonna heads down Highway 14 to Rochester this weekend to play in their tourney. They draw Rochester Red, Quad City and Mound Westonka in pool play. Mankato joins the Huskies in Rochester, they draw Rochester Black, Eastview and Jefferson in pool play. Albert Lea heads to Rochester this weekend. The Tigers play Champlin Park, Centennial, and the Rochester Gold in pool play.
New Ulm hosts a 10-team tourney this week. They have two D4 teams (Marshall and Redwood Falls), two D8 teams (Sibley and Apple Valley), two D3 teams (Crow River and St. Louis Park) and one D10 team (St. Francis) joining three D9 teams (New Ulm, Austin and Dodge County). One of the D8 and one of the D9 teams could end up playing each other in a play-in game to the South Regional at the end of February. New Ulm draws St. Louis Park and Redwood Falls in pool play.
The Northfield tourney results did not change the status quo. Mankato keeps the #1 seed this week, but the Rochester tourney is played this week and the Mavericks will be tested there. Northfield lost two tough games in their tourney, but solidified their lead in the D9 East and moves up to the #2 seed this week. Rochester Black falls. They had a tough week and it will get tougher in their own tourney. They and Mankato are “taking the same test” playing the same teams and then each other. But this week, Owatonna takes the #3 seed. The Huskies have strung six wins in a row against D9 teams.
East Regional (D2, D10, D11) - In D2, Roseville still leads and eventually Stillwater will report its won games to D2 and be tied with the Raiders. But D2 is a scramble. D10 and D11 are no better this week. In D10, Elk River lost two games and turned a runaway into a five-team battle for the three seeds with Blaine, Champlin Park, Rogers and Centennial. In D11, Cloquet stumbled over the Duluth East Hounds and the Hermantown Hawks didn’t.
Result is, it is now harder to figure out the stronger East Regional teams. It is like the East Regional teams were thrown into a bag, shaken up and thrown out on the table last week.
District 2 - After taking a week off, Roseville beat White Bear Lake 5-2 last week in their only game. The D2 win keeps the Raiders on top of D2 tied with Stillwater (Stillwater does not report their wins until weeks after the game is played). Each team has six D2 games left. These two teams are in a battle with Hudson for the championship. The D2 championship could be decided when Hudson, Stillwater and Roseville meet at the end of the month and the first week in February. This week Roseville plays Highland and Forest Lake in D2 games.
Hudson had a “Grand” time at Brainerd last week. The Raiders beat the host Warriors 2-0 in the opening game. In the semifinals, the Raiders beat #1 rated (in North Dakota) Grand Forks Seawolves 3-2 in an overtime/shootout to make it to the championship game against Grand Rapids. Hudson lost that game 2-1 in another overtime/shootout. They return to D2 action this week playing White Bear Lake.
White Bear Lake lost to Centennial 5-2, Eden Prairie 5-2 and Wayzata 7-2 last week. But the Bears' loss to Roseville last week hurt. It was their fifth D2 loss and drops them behind Forest Lake and Stillwater in the D2 standings. The Bears play Hudson and Tartan this week, both teams capable of beating the Bears.
Tartan looked strong in the Northfield tourney. They won the tournament, beating Faribault 8-0, Johnson/Como 6-2 and Orono 6-3 in the championship game. This week the Titans play Forest Lake in addition White Bear Lake in D2 games. Forest Lake played at Anoka. They won the opening game, beating Buffalo. The Rangers lost a tough game to host Anoka 3-1 and lost the third-place game to D2 rival Stillwater.
Stillwater beat Alexandria 7-0 in the opening game at Anoka, then the Ponies lost to Rosemount 5-0 before beating Forest Lake 5-0 for third place. Mahtomedi also played in the Anoka tourney. The Zephyrs lost to Rosemount 7-0, beat Alexandria 2-1 and beat Buffalo 5-1 for the consolation title. After a week off, Mounds View returns to play in the Govenor’s Cup. The Mustangs draw River Lakes in the opener. Highland plays Chaska and Wausau this week in addition to D2 games with Forest Lake and Roseville. They played Kennedy and Hastings last week.
Roseville keeps winning and the Raiders keep the #1 seed. Both Stillwater and Forest Lake were challenged at the Anoka tourney and they ended up playing each other for third place, and White Bear lost all four games this week. That made it easy this week to pick the #2 and #3 seeds. Stillwater gets the #2 seed and Forest Lake the #3 seed.
District 10 - Over the holidays, Elk River strung six D10 wins together and were positioned to lock up the D10 title, playing four more D10 games last week. The Elks went 2-2 in those four games, beating Coon Rapids 8-1 and Champlin Park 3-0; losing to Centennial 4-2 and Blaine 4-2. That dragged the Elks back in the fight. Now D10 has five teams contending for the title. Princeton is by itself in the standings and not likely to catch any of the top five teams and not likely to fall lower in the standings. Four teams (Anoka, Andover, Spring Lake Park and Irondale) are fighting for the remaining two district playoff spots.
The D10 leader is Champlin Park. The Rebels lead by five points, but has played two more games than Blaine, Elk River and Centennial. Rogers is trailing by seven points and has played one less game then the Rebels. The Rebels took first from the Elks by beating Princeton 2-0, Spring Lake Park 3-1, St. Francis 10-0 and Rogers 4-1 last week. This week, Champlin Park plays in Rochester’s tourney, playing Rochester Gold, Albert Lea and D10 rival and one of the second place teams, Centennial in pool play. The Rebels return from Rochester to play Andover in a D10 game.
Centennial plays Blaine and then heads to Rochester. They return home to play Anoka. Besides beating Elk River last week, Centennial beat Coon Rapids 3-1. Elk River continues their intense D10 schedule, playing four more games this week. The Elks play Andover, Princeton, Spring Lake Park and St. Francis. After this week, the Elks will have played 14 of their 22 game D10 schedule in four weeks.
Anoka had a great tourney last weekend. They beat St. Louis Park 5-0, Forest Lake 3-1 and upset top-rated Rosemount 3-2 in the championship game. Anoka is a tough tourney team. The Tornadoes travel this week, playing D10 games against Spring Lake Park, Irondale and Centennial.
Blaine beat Elk River and then tied Andover 2-2 last week before traveling to Brainerd. The Bengals ran into a tough Grand Rapids team, losing the opening game 6-5, but came back to beat the Duluth Lakers 4-2 and Brainerd 6-1 to take the consolation title. They returned to play Irondale. This week they play Centennial and Princeton in D10 action.
Rogers plays in the Geyer Tourney at St. Cloud. They draw host St. Cloud, Burnsville and Hopkins in pool play. Rogers beat Andover last week 4-2 besides losing to Centennial.
Princeton played in the Hibbing tourney last week. The Tigers beat Greenway 4-0 and Detroit Lakes 3-0, and lost to IGH/SSP 4-1 in pool play. In the third-place game, Princeton beat Hibbing 2-1 in overtime. Princeton is alone in the middle of the D10 standings and should make the D10 playoffs.
Irondale played at Hibbing also. In pool play, the Knights beat Moorhead Orange 3-2, Eveleth 12-1 and Hibbing 5-4. They lost the championship game to IGH/SSP 2-1. Irondale is in a battle in D10 for the last two playoff spots with Andover, Anoka and Spring Lake Park and have key games with Anoka and Spring Lake Park this week.
Spring Lake Park plays Anoka and Elk River also. The Panthers won the New Richmond tourney last weekend. They beat New Richmond 8-1, Verona 4-2 and Somerset 8-3 in the championship game. Andover travels to St. Cloud to play in the Geyer. They play Sartell, Farmington and Bemidji in pool play.
St. Francis plays in the New Ulm tourney and draws Dodge County and Marshall in pool play. Coon Rapids plays in the Governor’s Cup and draws Armstrong in the opening game of bracket play.
Last week, Elk River took the #1 seed and it looked like they would keep it the rest of the year. Blaine and Centennial beat the Elks last week. One of those two teams has to take the #1 seed this week. Coin flips and paper bags don’t help in D10 this year. So it is go by the book this week. Champlin Park is in first place this week, they get the #1 seed. Blaine, Elk River and Rogers are tied for second but the Elks beat Rogers last week and Blaine beat Elk River last week. Blaine takes the #2 seed. Anoka’s win over Rosemount was a great end to their tourney. The Tornadoes take the #3 seed. Centennial, Rogers and Elk River deserve to be one of the three, but three teams have to be out. The pool game in Rochester between Centennial and Champlin Park could decide who’s in next week.
District 11 - Cloquet had a tough week, losing to Grand Rapids 5-2 and Duluth East 4-3. The Lumberjacks play Proctor in their lone game this week. Hermantown beat Duluth East 12-0, Virginia 9-1 and Andover 5-0, and played the Duluth Lakers last week. This week the Hawks head for the Geyer in St. Cloud. They draw Mpls Storm, STMA and Minnetonka in pool play.
After losing to Hermantown, Duluth East traveled to Thunder Bay to play a three-game series with the Kings on the weekend. The Hounds lost all three games; 5-3, 6-3 and 4-2. This week Duluth East play the Duluth Lakers. The Lakers played at Brainerd last week. They lost to Rochester Red 4-2 in the opening game of bracket play, lost to Blaine 4-2 and played Eagan. Proctor tied Virginia 3-3 last week in the Rails only game. This week, the Rails are busy. They play Superior in D11 action, Cloquet, Greenway, and Grand Forks.
Hermantown takes the #1 seed this week. Duluth East beat Cloquet and takes the #2 seed.
West Regional (D3, D5, D6) - The teams are narrowing in the West more than in any other Regional. In D3, both Wayzata and OMG took hits that slowed their race to run away from the rest of the D3 teams. The Mpls Storm was the principle culprit, tying Wayzata and beating OMG. In D5, the scores are tightening, but St Cloud and STMA are still locked in a two way neck and neck battle for first. In D6, Burnsville is hanging on, but what was once a Burnsville runaway, is now a five-team fight to the finish.
District 3 - Before last week, Wayzata and Osseo/Maple Grove were running away from the rest of D3. Both were slowed by Mpls Storm. The Storm tied Wayzata 0-0 and beat OMG 4-2. The tie and loss narrowed the gap between Wayzata/OMG and the rest of D3, giving hope not only to the Storm, but to Armstrong and Crow River.
Wayzata completed a busy week by losing to Farmington 5-3, and beating Crow River 6-3, White Bear Lake 7-3 and St. Louis Park 8-0. The Trojans play Edina this week. OMG also had a busy week. They beat Hopkins 3-1, lost to Edina 7-0, lost to the Wisconsin Fire 4-1 and beat Spring Lake Park 5-0 last week in addition losing to the Storm. OMG plays Crow River and Prior Lake this week.
The Storm play in St. Cloud this week at the Geyer tourney. They draw Hermantown, Minnetonka and STMA in pool play. They beat Armstrong 7-2 last week to add to their win over OMG and their tie with Wayzata.
Hopkins plays in the Geyer also. In pool play the Royals draw Burnsville, St. Cloud and Bemidji. The Royals lost to Waconia last week 5-1 and tied Orono 5-5. Orono plays Shakopee and Crow River this week. Orono took second place at Northfield, beating a shorthanded Red Wing team 12-0 and beating Austin 10-1 before losing to Tartan 6-3 in the championship game.
Mound Westonka plays in Rochester on the weekend. They draw Rochester Red, Quad City and Owatonna in pool play. The Whitehawks lost to Crow River 5-0 last week.
Armstrong plays in the Governor’s Cup. They play Coon Rapids in the opening of bracket play. Crow River plays OMG and then play in the New Ulm this weekend. They play Apple Valley and Austin in pool play. Armstrong beat Orono 7-1 in D3 action last week. St. Louis Park played in the Anoka tourney last weekend, losing to the host 5-0, losing to Buffalo and playing Alexandria. This week the Orioles play in the New Ulm tourney. They draw New Ulm and Redwood Falls in pool play.
Wayzata and OMG remain neck and neck for the stretch run, but the Mpls Storm has found the center of the track and is in a wide open run to the finish. In the Storm’s remaining seven D3 games, they do not play either Wayzata or OMG. Wayzata takes the #1 seed. The Storm take the #2 seed with their win over OMG. OMG takes the #3 seed.
District 5 - St. Cloud and STMA have been knotted all season on top of D5. This week they finally meet and one of them will take their first D5 loss. But it will not be over; both teams meet again on Feb. 11. St. Cloud hosts the 12-team Geyer tourney that includes top-rated Farmington and Burnsville this weekend. St. Cloud draws Rogers, Hopkins and Burnsville in pool play. Last week, they beat Sauk Rapids 11-1 in a D5 game and lost to Woodbury 6-4 and tied Woodbury 1-1.
STMA is also playing in the Geyer. They draw Minnetonka, Hermantown and Mpls Storm in pool play. STMA added three more D5 wins to their total, beating Litchfield 7-0, Sartell 9-1 and MAML 3-0.
MAML played in the Thief River Falls tourney last weekend. In pool play the Moose lost to Roseau 8-5, lost to Mandan 3-1 and played Beausejour. They play Hutchinson and Buffalo in D5 games and Orono this week. The Moose loss to STMA was just their second D5 loss this year.
Third-place Sartell plays in the Geyer on the weekend. The Sabres draw Farmington, Bemidji and Andover in pool play. Buffalo played at Anoka, losing to Forest Lake in the opening game, beating St. Louis Park, and losing to Mahtomedi 5-1 in the consolation semifinals.
Last weekend, River Lakes won the Redwood Falls tourney, tying Willmar 2-2 and beating Marshall 4-0, Redwood Falls 5-3 and Willmar 4-1. The Stars tied Litchfield 2-2 in a D5 game before the tourney and beat Litchfield 4-3 after the tourney. The Stars have improved and will be tested this week when they play in the Governor’s Cup. River Lakes opens bracket play against Mounds View.
Willmar played in the RWF tourney. After tying River Lakes in the opener, the Cardinals beat RWF 5-1, lost to Marshall 4-3 and lost to River Lakes 4-1. Willmar plays Buffalo, Sauk Rapids and Hutchinson in D5 games this week. Hutchinson beat Sauk Rapids 5-3 and lost to Buffalo 3-1 last week. The Tigers play MAML and Willmar this week.
St. Cloud and STMA remain tied at the top of the D5 standings. There are no changes in the seeds. St. Cloud takes the #1 seed; STMA takes the #2 seed; and the Moose (MAML) keeps the #3 seed.
District 6 - After a tough stretch of 12 games in 18 days, Burnsville played only a single game last week. But it was a tough one as the Blaze lost 7-3 to Farmington. This weekend, they travel to St. Cloud to play in the Geyer. In pool play, Burnsville draws Rogers, Hopkins and St. Cloud. Joining the Blaze in St. Cloud will be Minnetonka. The Skippers doused the Blaze with cold water a week ago, handing Burnsville their first D6 loss. They draw Hermantown, STMA and the Mpls Storm in pool play. These two teams could play each other in the championship round at the Geyer and then play a key D6 return match the following Sunday at Burnsville.
Minnetonka beat Chaska 6-2 last week in their only D6 game. Eden Prairie beat Prior Lake 4-3 in another key D6 game this week. The loss hurts the Lakers but if they can win two of their three tough games left, they could still contend. Eden Prairie needed that win. The Eagles have five games left and play Edina twice and Burnsville once.
Edina beat Jefferson 8-0 in their only D6 game last week. They beat OMG 7-0 and played Rosemount. This week, the Hornets play a single D6 game against Chaska.
If each of the top five D6 teams could win every point, Burnsville would set the mark with 50 points, Minnetonka would have 49, Eden Prairie 48, Edina 47 and Prior Lake 43. But they can’t because they play each other often in this last month of regular season. Burnsville and Minnetonka each has four games or eight points in jeopardy; Eden Prairie has three of their five remaining games or six points in jeopardy; Edina has five games or 10 points in jeopardy; and Prior Lake has three games or six points in jeopardy.
So pick a scenario. If Prior Lake beats Tonka twice, Tonka’s point total would drop to 45. The Lakers would still need help and would still have to beat Burnsville to get their 43 (and Burnsville’s total would drop to 48). But the Lakers would be in the mix and contending in the last week of play. If Edina loses just two of their five tough games, their point total drops to 43. Remember, Eden Prairie and Edina play each other twice. If either team wins both games, the other team is out of contention. If they split those games, then they are both hurt, but still contending.
It will be a wild last month in D6. Meanwhile, there is little separation in the bottom five D6 teams. What is at stake is the last seed to the double elimination part of the district playoffs. The bottom five teams will be seeded in a single elimination tourney. The #6 team will play the winner of the #9/#10 seed game. The #7 seed will play the #8 seed. The winners advance and the losers go home with the winner of the single elimination claiming the #6 seed in the tourney.
Of the lower five teams, Chaska has looked the strongest in games played in the last month and have a record of playing strong at the end of the year. Chaska plays Edina in their only D6 game this week. Jefferson will test itself this weekend, playing at Rochester. The Jags draw Mankato, Eastview and Rochester Black in pool play. Kennedy and Waconia are playing in the Govenor’s Cup. They play in the same bracket. Kennedy draws Irondale and Waconia draws host Johnson/Como. Shakopee plays Orono and Eden Prairie this week. The Sabres played in the Little Falls tourney last week.
Prior Lake took the #1 seed last week and lost to Eden Prairie. That win put the Eagles in first place and ended Burnsville’s season-long hold on the top spot. Eden Prairie takes the #1 seed this week. Minnetonka, Burnsville and Edina played a minimum schedules last week. Prior Lake takes the #2 seed. Burnsville and Minnetonka will settle things between themselves over the next eight days, but for now the Blaze take the #3 seed. Edina is still lurking and should be making a move. They have the Roseau tourney in 10 days.