Thursday, February 24, 2011

Another Way to Look at PeeWee A Hockey - Feb. 24

By frederick61

Well, it continues. Five months ago, 107 PeeWee A teams opened their hockey seasons. Last week, 99 of those teams started their district playoffs. Four districts named their champions last week and completed play.

The District 4 champion is Luverne. No other teams advance from D4.

The District 12 champion is Grand Rapids. Hibbing took the #2 seed and Virginia (in a surprise) took the #3 seed.

The District 15 champion is Moorhead Black. Fergus Fall showed that their second place in D15 was no fluke and took the #2 seed.

The District 16 champion is Bemidji. Thief River Falls took the #2 seed and East Grand Forks took the #3 seed.

Going into action this Thursday, 51 teams are left in the hunt. By Sunday there will be 33 teams (and one regional play-in game) left. The teams making the regional will have four days to get ready. All regional tourneys will began play Friday at 2:00 in the afternoon.

To those teams left in the hunt, good luck. And to the kids, coaches, parents and fans of the 51 teams, what I said about the Super Bowl a few weeks ago is true. Most people forget who won or lost in a few years. But those that are part of the tight district finals and the excitement, you will remember being there.

Now, how many people remember the final score of the last Super Bowl?

North Regional (D12, D15, D16) - The North Regional is set. The tournament will be played in Moorhead. All regional tourneys will open at 2:00 on Friday afternoon, March 4th.

Grand Rapids would open the tourney against Fergus Falls. Bemidji would play Virginia in the second game of the upper bracket of opening. The Moorhead Black would play Thief River Falls and East Grand Forks would play Hibbing in the lower bracket.

The regionals are all double elimination and have a new format. A team that wins its first two games will have a two out of three chance to make the state tourney. The upper bracket favors Bemidji.

District 12 - The D12 playoffs this year were played at the Hoyt Lakes Arena, home to the Mesabi East team. With three D12 regional seeds available, the tourney looked to be a runaway for one seed, a partial runaway for the second seed, and donnybrook for the third seed. It was.

Grand Rapids had run away with the season title, they ran away with the D12 playoffs. With a first round bye as season champs, the Thunderhawks beat Virginia 14-3 and beat Hibbing 5-2 to win the #1 D12 seed. Hibbing opened beating Eveleth 11-0 and had a tougher game against International Falls beating the Broncos 3-2 to get to the championship game. The Bluejackets took the #2 D12 seed.

The Falls opened their tourney beating Mesabi East 12-8 before losing to Hibbing. After losing to Hibbing, Greenway beat the Broncos 5-1 to end their season. Mesabi East came back to beat Eveleth 8-1 ending the Golden Bears season. The Giants lost to Virginia in a tough game 5-3 to end their season. Virginia had beaten Greenway 5-1 in Friday’s opening game of the D12 playoffs and the Blue Devils beat Greenway 3-1 to take the #3 D12 seed in Sunday’s third place game.

After struggling early in the year, Virginia has improved. But in a scheduling quirk, they played Greenway four times in the last few weeks of the season and in the playoffs. The Blue Devils beat Greenway in three of those games and tied them in the fourth. No question on who deserved the #3 seed.

Hibbing ended their season beating Orono, Rochester Red, and Warroad. Their 5-2 loss to Grand Rapids shows that the Bluejackets are improving. For the Thunderhawks, Sunday’s night’s drive back may have been on a snowy night, not a rainy night; but as Garth sang, “…and the Thunder rolls”.

District 15 - While the southern part of Minnesota was turning whiter last weekend, Fergus Falls was spared the bulk of the storm. Their Otters took full advantage. D15 had two seeds to the North Regional and had a wrinkle in their playoff format that turned the semifinal games into the final elimination games for their playoffs. But only if the season champion, Moorhead Black, made it to the final game. The Black did. The D15 finals then became a fight for the #1 and #2 seeds. The Moorhead Black had entered the tourney as the favorite and a guaranteed playoff.

The Black beat Northern Lakes 10-0 in the opening game; added two more wins (Brainerd 8-1 and Detroit Lakes 9-2) to make it to the Championship game. The Black beat Fergus Falls 9-0 for the playoff title and the #1 seed.

Brainerd beat Detroit Lakes 3-2, lost to the Black, and then crossed over to play Alexandria in the lower bracket. The Warriors lost to Alex to end their playoff hopes. Detroit Lakes beat Northern Lakes 5-1 to eliminate the Lightning from the tourney, and beat Little Falls 9-2 to eliminate the Flyers from the tourney. But then they lost to Moorhead Black to end the Laker’s regional hopes.

In the lower bracket, Little Falls had opened with a surprising 3-2 win over Alexandria, but the Flyers lost to Fergus Falls 7-2 before being eliminated from the tourney by Detroit Lakes. Fergus Falls edged out the Moorhead Orange 5-4 in their opener, beat Little Falls, and beat Alexandria 5-4 in overtime in the semifinal game to take the #2 D15 regional seed. Alexandria got there by beating the Moorhead Orange 6-3 and eliminating the Orange from the playoffs before eliminating Brainerd.

No guessing this week. The Moorhead Black take the #1 seed and Fergus Falls takes the #2 seed. The Moorhead Black did dominate their side of the draw. Fergus Falls, Alex, Detroit Lakes, Brainerd, and the Moorhead Orange all had a shot. Brainerd started well, but could not beat Alex in when the Warriors needed to. Alex turned a tough start, losing to Little Falls, around and came back only to fall short in the overtime lost to the Otters.

District 16 - Bemidji has had a solid team all year. They always seem to show up to play hockey. In the D16 playoffs last weekend, they did just that. Working off a bye for taking the season title, the Lumberjacks beat East Grand Forks 6-4 and Thief River Falls 4-0 to take the #1 D16 seed. Their season continues. This week they host Detroit Lakes and play International Falls.

Thief River Falls beat Red Lake Falls 10-2 and Crookston 4-1 to get to the D16 playoff final game. The Prowler’s great season continues as they take the #2 D16 seed into the North Regional. East Grand Forks beat Roseau 8-4, lost to Bemidji, and beat Crookston 10-3 to take the #3 D16 seed to the North Regional
Roseau, Crookston, Warroad, and Red Lake Falls were all eliminated.

Roseau and East Grand Forks have been rivals over the past few years. Both teams have fought each other for the D16 titles and state tourney seeds in the regionals. The rivalry continued this year only early in the tourney when EGF eliminated the Rams.

Warroad always seems to struggle at the peewee level. They did four years ago. This year, Warroad’s high school team is seeded #1 in Section 8A. It’s one of those anomalies. Another one is Red Lake Falls seeded #3 in Section 8A.
How do the Warroads and Red Lake Falls happen? How do the kids struggle at 12-13 years old and excel at 16-17 years old. They are peewees. Who knows what they will do as they grow up. You can throw them in the right direction and only hope they don’t land on their heads.

South Regional (D4, D8, D9) - The South Regional is shaping up as follows: D4 has crowned their champion, Luverne. The D8 playoffs started last Sunday and will finish on this Sunday, February 27th. Eight teams are still playing. The snowstorm force D9 to postpone their Sunday finals. They will be played this Friday and Saturday in Mankato. Six teams are still playing.

If things follow as predicted here, the South Regional opening round games at Rochester would look like this. Farmington would play Lakeville South and Rochester Red would play Woodbury in the upper bracket. Luverne would play Mankato and Owatonna would play Rosemount in the lower bracket.

Lakeville South would win the play-in game with D9 for the #2 D4 seed.
District 4-Luverne has been the dominant peewee A team during the D4 regular season. They didn’t change for the playoffs. The Luverne Cardinals beat Marshall 10-2 and Redwood Falls 11-3 to become the first team to take a regional berth. They will be the #1 D4 seed in the South Regional tourney.

At the start of the season, Luverne Association took their 19 peewee kids (plus two goalies) and split them into an A team and a B team. They put nine players and one goalie on the A team. For those who have not run a bench for a game with 9 or less kids, it is tough. The coach has few options.

Opposing coaches can match up easily because they know who the next set of forwards will be (the four kids sitting in the bench). And the opposing coaches do matchup. That is competitive hockey. But the Luverne coaches have been good in the past in coping with the situation and have surprised teams.

In a bit of irony, the Luverne high school team placed third in the Southwest conference. Marshall was the regular season champion. Luverne is seeded 5th in Section 3, Class A. Their opening game is this Thursday and their opponent is #4 seeded Marshall.

District 8 - D8 playoffs open last Sunday at Hastings with four play-in games. Hastings beat IGH/SSP 6-0 in the first game; Lakeville North beat Johnson/Como 6-3 in the second game; Sibley beat Eagan 5-1 in the third game; and Eastview beat archrival Apple Valley 8-3 in the last play-in game of the day.

Hastings is playing at home and as always plays well in the D8 playoffs after forming their team late. The Raiders played top ranked Farmington Tuesday night in the Hastings West Rink. The smaller rink was packed with fans. Both teams showed up to play. The game had that neighboring town rivalry feeling.

It was a fast paced game that had constant puck movement. The pace was maintained for most of the game. The Tigers would set up in Raiders zone for a period of time, but were forced to move the puck quickly and that led to Raider counter attacks. Neither team could get quality shots. Farmington’s attacks always ended up low with the Farmington forwards jamming at the puck.

Farmington won the game 4-0. They led 2-0 going into the third period. Three of their four goals were on power plays. The Tigers’ low pressure around the Hasting’s goal forced the Raider’s goalie to play strong. He did, he had a great game.

The two Lakevilles played the second game of the D8 quarterfinals Tuesday night. That game started slow and had a lot of scoring in the first period. Five goals were scored with the Panthers taking a 3-2 lead into the second period. South came back to score three goals to take a 5-3 and held on for a 5-4 win.

Lakeville North had four players out at one point a month ago. And it showed as the Panthers went 1-6-1 in their last eight regular season games. The North had all 15 players for their game with South. But with so many kids out, it is hard to re-group right before playoff time. The Panthers are not out of the tourney. They will have their hands full playing Hastings on Saturday in a “loser goes home game”.

Farmington and Lakeville South will meet Saturday with the D8 #1 or #2 seed at stake. Farmington beat South in late January 9-1. But it is playoff time.

IGH/SSP and Johnson/Como were eliminated when they lost their opening games. IGH/SSP has talent and it started to show during their own tourney a month ago. But they have struggled since then. The Johnson/Como team is new to D8 this year with D1 no longer playing competitive hockey. The Devils have worked hard over the season, playing an extensive schedule and not really backing off. They did not win a game in their first 15 played. Then they entered Albert Lea’s tourney in mid-December. They swept the opposition and won the championship. After that tourney, they played .500 hockey. They are out of the playoffs, but they have had a good year.

Sibley plays Rosemount on Friday in the opening game of the lower bracket. They have improved over the season. They tended to rely on their best players in early season games and struggled. But in games just before the playoffs, their forwards had started to play hockey. Only their defense has struggled. It has improved in the last few weeks and it shows. The Generals have held the opposition to 1 or 2 goals in four of their last six games. Their win over Eagan was no surprise.

Eastview plays Woodbury in the final quarterfinal game. The Lightning have struggled at the end of the season. A Lightning win over an Apple Valley team is always a positive sign because of the rivalry involved. Apple Valley struggled all season. The Eagles lost some of their top players to the Fire this year.

It was a tough Tuesday for Hastings and Lakeville North. Sibley plays Rosemount and Eastview plays Woodbury on Friday and it looks like a tough Friday for Sibley and Eastview. Sibley lost to Rosemount 7-0 two weeks ago. Eastview lost to Woodbury 7-0 in early December. Should they lose, the Eastview/Sibley winner will be in a good position to win at least a shot at the play-in game with D9.

The winner will play the loser of the Farmington/Lakeville South game. It will be the second game on Saturday for both teams, but Farmington/Lakeville South loser will have a couple of hours less to recover. It has been the way D8 runs their tourney for last 10 years.

The Hastings/Lakeville North winner on Saturday will be in much tougher position. They will have to play the loser of the Woodbury/Rosemount game to get a shot at least the play-in game. But anything goes at playoff time, especially if it is Hastings at Hastings.

D9 play-in game and third place seed will be settled on Friday. The #4 seed from D9 will be Mankato, Dodge County, Owatonna, or New Ulm.

With the D8 seeds not settled until the Saturday, nothing has changed. Farmington remains the favorite and this week has the #1 seed, Woodbury keeps the #2 seed and Rosemount the #3 seed. Lakeville South is favored to take the #4 seed and the right to play the #4 D9 seed for the D4 #2 seed to the South Regional.

District 9 - The D9 playoff games on Sunday were postponed, but the saga of the Rochester Red continues. Last Friday, the Red won their first official D9 game of the season beating the Rochester Gold team 9-0. On Saturday, they won their second D9 beating Owatonna 7-1. Those two wins gave them a 2-0-0 D9 record and a seed to the South Regional. They play Northfield in the D9 championship game this Saturday.

Northfield got there by beating New Ulm 5-1 and Mankato 5-4. The Raiders now have a 13-2-1 D9 record and have earned the right to be in the championship game. Their win over Mankato assures the Raiders a seed to the South Regional. It will be Northfield’s first appearance in a PeeWee A regional in over of a dozen years. It maybe Northfield’s first ever appearance.

Owatonna beat Dodge County 6-1 in their first playoff game. Mankato beat Rochester Black 4-1 in the Mavericks first game. Dodge County beat Rochester Gold 2-0 to eliminate the Gold from the tourney. New Ulm beat Rochester Black 6-3 to eliminate the Black from the tourney. Mankato plays Dodge County and Owatonna plays New Ulm on Friday. The winners of those two games will meet for the #3 seed. The loser will get a ticket to the play-in game for the #2 D4 seed.

The Rochester Red team has gone through a “trial year” playing an independent schedule. In the past 30 years that I have watched peewee A teams, I have seen over and over again different approaches to teach 12-14 year kids to excel in hockey. The approaches always change. One thing is certain that because of maturing limitations, the kids can learn only so much at that age.

Rochester fielded two A teams in D8 for at least six years. The 2004-2005 season was the last year they entered two teams in D8. That year, both Rochester teams finished behind Red Wing and one team finished behind Dodge County. In 2005-2006 season, if memory serves me right, Rochester ended up with one team in D8 even though they had formed an A and an A2 team.

D8 would not allow the A2 team in the league. In 2005-2006, Dodge County took second place in D8 with a 15-1 record. The Rochester team finished behind Dodge County and barely beat them in the D8 playoffs for the #3 seed to advance.

Rochester Red had the easiest path in the D9 playoffs. They should improve their unbeaten D9 record to 3-0-0 and take the #1 seed D9 to the South Regional. They would likely play Woodbury or Rosemount in their first regional game. Northfield would then end up with the #2 seed and draw Woodbury or Rosemount. Three teams, Mankato, Owatonna, and New Ulm are the favorites to take either the #3 seed or the play-in game invite. Dodge County and Mankato have played once this year, in early December. Mankato beat Dodge County 9-2. Owatonna and New Ulm have played each twice this year. Owatonna won both of the games, 6-2 and 6-2. Mankato and Owatonna are favored.

East Regional (D2, D10, D11) - The East Regional is shaping up as follows: D2 had a surprise when the lowest seeded team, Mahtomedi, won a regional seed last weekend. The Zephyrs were joined by White Bear Lake. The two teams will play Saturday for the #1 seed. In D10, Elk River and Blaine are playing this weekend for the #1 or #2 seed. Both teams will be in the tourney.

D11 had the biggest surprise when Proctor beat the Duluth Lakers and then had to forfeit the game a day later. D11’s two seeds are still up in the air.

Both D10 and D11 had controversies in their playoffs last week interpreting player eligibility rules. The controversy was generated in trying to interpret the “new?” five penalties in a game and you are out for that game and the next game. In D10, though Centennial played an ineligible player, they did not have to forfeit. The player involved sat the next game.

We, as adults, look foolish when we make rules that affect kids and then don’t know how they are applied. Somebody can always come up with a new idea and then a new rule. But nobody follows through. We need fewer rules. That is because the game is hockey. It is supposed to be fun.

But one thing is certain. Very few rules should be made that result in a parent and kid sitting at home or in the stands while their team is on the ice.

If the projected winners this week hold, the East Regional draw would look like this. White Bear Lake would play Cloquet and Elk River would play Mahtomedi in the upper bracket. Hermantown would play Rogers and Blaine would play Roseville in the lower bracket.

District 2 - The D2 district playoffs opened with two surprises, #8 seeded Mahtomedi beat playoff favorite and #1 seed Roseville 4-3 in overtime. In a second playoff game between Tartan and Moundsview, skated simultaneously on Stillwater’s second sheet, Tartan beat Moundsview 2-1. That set up an unexpected battle between Mahtomedi and Tartan in the semifinals with the winner getting a seed to the East Regional on Sunday. The Zephyrs won 5-3. The #8 seeded Mahtomedi advances to the East Regional. They will play White Bear Lake to decide who gets the #1 seed at the Blizzard this Saturday. The loser of that game plays the winner of the third place game with the #2 and #3 seeds at stake.

White Bear Lake has struggled all season, a team with talent but just never quite there. Two weeks ago, in their own tourney they were beaten by Edina 10-0. The Bears beat Forest Lake 4-1 in their opening game and beat Stillwater 3-2 in overtime to make it to the championship game.

With only one D2 seed left, Roseville came back to beat a tough Moundsview team 6-3 to end the Mustangs season. The Raiders will play Stillwater on Thursday. Now the #1 and #2 seeded teams going into the D2 playoffs need to beat each other for the right to play for the last seed to the East Regional. The two teams split the two D2 games. Roseville winning the first game 6-1 and Stillwater the second game played at the end of January 2-1.

Tartan and Forest Lake play in the other game on Thursday. Forest Lake, after losing to White Bear Lake, beat Highland 5-4 in overtime to get there. Highland is out of the playoffs. Tartan beat Forest Lake 2-0 in the first week of the season last November. The two teams tied 1-1 in mid-January. This will be another tough game. Tartan has been playing well as the season ended, and Forest Lake has been struggling.

This is D2 hockey and the league has always had terrific balance. Seven of the eight associations will have had a peewee team in the regionals in the past four years. Eight teams if you include Highland. The Caps were not in D2 last year, but played in regionals in the past two years. The only team not on that list is Tartan.

This week, White Bear Lakes takes the #1 seed. The Bears should beat Mahtomedi.
Stillwater should win their next two games and beat Mahtomedi for the #2 seed. The Ponies game with Roseville will be tough. Tartan should be up to beat Forest Lake. All three teams, Roseville, Tartan, and Forest Lake have split their two D2 games with the Ponies this year. Mahtomedi should get the #3 seed. The Zephyrs are playing well as the season ends.

District 10 - Centennial ended up with an ineligible player even though they sought or asked D10 officials before the game. They played their opening game with the player in question and won 7-3. The player sat the second and Centennial to Blaine 4-2.

Elk River is the favorite. They beat Princeton 4-1 and Rogers 3-1 to make it to the D10 championship game on Saturday. The Elks are now assured of either the #1 or #2 D10 seed. Blaine joins the Elks in the championship game and is also assured of a seed. The Bengals beat Anoka 3-1 besides beating Centennial to get there.

In the other upper bracket opening game, Rogers beat Champlin Park. Champlin Park then beat Princeton 2-1 to end the Tigers season. Champlin Park now faces their “nemesis” Centennial in a winner go home game Saturday morning. In the last month of the season, Centennial beat the Rebels four times, 4-1, 5-3, 5-2, and 3-0. It is hard for one team to beat another team four times in a month at the peewee A level. The losing team just keeps learning until they find a way to win. Centennial should have their hands full.

Anoka, after losing to Blaine in the opening game, beat Spring Lake Park 3-2 to send the Panthers home. The Panthers have had a good season as their program continues to improve. Anoka plays Rogers in the second game on Saturday morning. Rogers has beaten Anoka twice during the season, 4-1 and 3-2. If Anoka wins Saturday’s game, they will play for the third seed on their home ice.

Elk River continues to be the favorite. But the Elk River/Blaine game is going to be a tough game. The Elks beat the Bengals twice 3-2 (in overtime) and 4-2. They lost once 4-2. The Elks keep the #1 seed and Blaine gets the #2 seed. The #3 seed is down to four teams and three games. Champlin Park plays Centennial and Anoka play Rogers. Centennial and Rogers are the favorites. Rogers tied Centennial 1-1 and beat the Cougars 3-0 during the Christmas Holidays. The edge goes to Rogers this week, they get the #3 seed.

District 11 - When the adults get too involved, they can really mess things up. Proctor opened the D11 playoff with a 4-3 win over the Duluth Lakers. When a Proctor player received his 5th penalty (another not so well thought out rule), instead of being thrown out of the game, he was allowed to play. He scored the winning goal.

That occurred Monday night. Tuesday afternoon, the adults in D11 forced the Rails to forfeit the game and then forced the Rails to play Duluth East Tuesday evening. The Rails lost 7-2 to end their season. The player involved also could not play in the second game.

This whole scenario is not good for youth hockey. More and more rules are being made and applied without allowing for circumstance. A D10 team also played a player who was ineligible for one game and won. There no forfeit was made. Now there is inconsistency.

Right or wrong, the Proctor matter was brought to the refs attention during the game. They made a decision. Now it gets more complicated. The more complicated the adults make the game, the less fun the game is for the kids and parents.
What kind of learning moment was this for the kids on both teams? What did they learn? Let’s play hockey.

In D11’s other Monday night game, Cloquet beat Duluth East 4-3. Hermantown and the Duluth Lakers played on Wednesday. The winner plays Cloquet. The winner of the Cloquet game will get one of the two D11 seeds.

This remains a tough district to figure out. Hermantown, Cloquet, and Duluth East are the likely teams to tangle for the two seeds. The Duluth Lakers need to beat Hermantown this Wednesday. What was said last week, remains so for this week. The #1 seed goes to Hermantown; the Hawks have struggled at times, but not against D11 foes.

As for the #2 seed, Cloquet beat Duluth East in the playoff once already. No need for the old zinc penny to come out. Cloquet takes the #2 seed. But it is always tough to beat a peewee A team twice.

West Regional (D3, D5, D6) - The West Regional is shaping up as follows: In the opening game a week from Friday, St. Cloud would play Mpls Storm and Burnsville would play MAML in the upper bracket. Wayzata would play Prior Lake and Edina would play STMA in the lower bracket (providing all the predictions come true).
This region has a game of musically chairs going on. The D6 teams do not want to end up playing Wayzata in the opening game. Both Burnsville and Edina want the #1 seed, but they may be fooled if the Mpls Storm beat Wayzata on Saturday.

District 3 - D3 is the only district that has no team assured of a regional seed. Wayzata opened the playoffs beating Hopkins 12-1 and Armstrong 5-2. This Saturday, the Trojans will play Mpls Storm for the #1 seed. The loser has to battle either OMG or Armstrong for the #2 seed. The Storm beat Orono 6-4 and Osseo/Maple Grove 3-1 to get to the championship game.

The winner will get the #1 D3 seed to the West Regional. The loser plays the winner of the OMG/Armstrong game for the #2 D3 seed on Sunday. Wayzata and the Mpls Storm have played each other twice at the start of the year. The Trojans won the first game 6-0 and tied the second game 0-0.

OMG beat Mound/Westonka 3-0 before losing to the Storm. They beat Hopkins 5-2 to make Saturday’s final. Hopkins beat Crow River 5-4 to end the Tigers first season in D3. Hopkins always amazes with their improvement over the year. The Royals seemed always get beat early on and become a hard team to beat late in the season. Crow River had a successful D3 season ending with a 9-7 record. That is better than most expected.

Armstrong had a great season and was one of the hardest working teams this year. It showed when they opened the playoffs with a 5-1 win over Crow River before losing to Wayzata. Armstrong came back to beat Orono 5-4 to get their ticket to Saturday’s game at the PIC. They remain in the hunt.

Orono beat Mound/Westonka 6-0 to end the Whitehawks first D3 season. The Spartan’s loss to Armstrong ended their season. But they had a great year last year making the state tourney. This year the Spartans stuggled early on, but improved after playing in the Eveleth tourney in mid-January.

The Trojans take the #1 seed this week. The Storm can beat them, but playoffs are tough. The Strom get the #2 seed, but it would not be surprising to see Armstrong take it away from the storm in the final game.

District 5 - St. Cloud and STMA continued their dominance of D5, but things were getting tougher.

Both teams won their opening games easily. St. Cloud beat Litchfield 13-0 and STMA beat Sauk Rapids 8-1. Each had a tougher second game. St. Cloud beat Sartell 4-1 and STMA beat MAML 3-2. The Sartell/St. Cloud game was played at Sartell and should have generated a lot of interest. These two associations are neighbors. Some people refer to Sauk Rapids and Sartell as St. Cloud suburbs. Not a good thing to say.

The wins by St. Cloud and STMA put the season long rivals into the championship game on Saturday. One comes out with the #1 seed and will play the #2 D3 seed (Wayzata, Mpls Storm, Armstrong, or OMG). The other will get the #2 seed and will play the #2 D6 seed (Edina, Burnsville, Prior Lake, or Eden Prairie).

Litchfield beat Hutchinson 3-2 in the opening game. Sauk Rapids beat Willmar 2-1 in their opening game. Willmar played Buffalo in the opening game of the loser bracket. Buffalo had lost to Sartell. The Cardinals beat the Bison 7-2. Hutchinson played an improving River Lakes team that had narrowly lost to MAML 4-3. Hutchinson beat River Lakes 2-1 to end their season. River Lakes improved over their season and lost two tough games to get knocked out of the running for a regional seed.

In the second round of the losers bracket, Willmar beat Litchfield 3-2 and Hutchinson beat Sauk Rapids 3-0. The losses ended Litchfield’s and Sauk Rapids seasons. That set the draw for the #3 seed on Saturday. MAML plays Willmar and Sartell plays Hutchinson. MAML has two regular season wins over Willmar and is the favorite. Willmar has played well at the end of the season and continues to play well in the playoffs.

Sartell beat Hutchinson 9-3 and 4-2 during regular season and should be favored here. But last year Hutchinson came on strong at the end of the season to make the regional tourney, and it is looking like they could to do it again. Sartell has two regular season wins over MAML, 3-0 and 3-2.

D5 sends three teams to the regionals. Two teams, STMA and St. Cloud, will battle in Litchfield for the #1 and #2 seeds. St. Cloud gets the #1 seed this week and is the favorite to beat STMA. They hold two regular season wins (2-1 and 3-2) over STMA and are favorites to win on Saturday. STMA would get the #2 seed.

St. Cloud would then play the #2 D3 seed (Wayzata, Mpls Storm, Armstrong or OMG) and STMA would play the #2 D6 seed (Burnsville, Edina, Prior Lake, or Eden Prairie). MAML is favored to take the #3 seed, but anything can happen. Sartell, Willmar, and Hutchinson are all in the running. As the #3 seed, MAML take two of the three seeds. St. Cloud gets the #1 seed this week and STMA get the #2 seed. The fight for the third seed will be donnybrook. MAML and River Lakes could be battling for the final seed on Saturday. If MAML takes the #3 seed, the Moose would play either Edina or Burnsville in their first game of the West Regional.

One final note, for those who will be at the D5 tourney in Litchfield, take some time between games and walk the halls of the Litchfield high school across the street from the arena. It is usually open with some sporting activity. The high school has been giving each graduating class a large section of hallway. The class paints a mural on that panel. They have been doing this for around 25 years. It is worthwhile seeing.

District 6 - Where is the eerie music, the kind that sends shivers up and down your spine. It is déjà vu in D6 again this year. Last year, on the Thursday before the final weekend, Edina beat Burnsville 5-4 to go to the championship game. Eden Prairie beat Prior Lake 2-1 to eliminate the Lakers from the playoffs and assure them the #1 seed.

This Thursday, Burnsville and Edina will play the same game all over again only Burnsville has the #1 seed (actually that could matter if the two teams tied). Burnsville won the season championship and sat in wait while Jefferson startled everyone by stringing playoff wins together.

The Jags started the gauntlet by beating Waconia last Friday 6-5 to keep alive. On Saturday they beat Chaska 4-3 to keep alive. On Monday, the Jags beat Minnetonka 4-2 to keep alive. On Tuesday, they lost to the Blaze 5-1 and dropped to the loser bracket.

Edina had to beat Prior Lake 5-1 to get to the championship game. Placing first or second in D6 has its rewards at playoff time and gives the regular season games extra importance. Both Burnsville and Edina had to play one playoff game to get to the regional and both teams three or four games in the next four days to decide on what seed they will get.

Prior Lake beat Eden Prairie 5-2 before they lost to Edina. In the loser bracket, Eden Prairie ended Jefferson’s great playoff run, beating the Jags 5-1. Prior Lake beat Minnetonka 4-3 to end the Skippers season. And déjà vu happens. The Lakers and the Eagles go at again for the #3 seed in what will be the second of two great games. Last year the Lakers lost by a goal.

The Burnsville/Edina game is a coin flip. The Blaze beat the Hornets at the end of regular season 5-4 to take the D6 regular season championship. Both teams are certain to go regionals, but can end up with any of the three seeds. The winner of Thursday game will not be guaranteed the #1. The top two teams play again on Saturday and if necessary Sunday to sort that out. Last year Edina and Burnsville battled in two weekend games, Burnsville winning. Burnsville lost in the regional a week later to Edina in a game for a state tourney entry. Edina went on to win the state title. It is not over until it is over.

Eden Prairie beat Prior Lake 2-1 and 4-3 in regular season before losing 5-2 in the first playoff game. The winner of this game will be playing for the #2 or #3 seed to the West Regional.

Burnsville takes the #1 seed this week, but Edina and Burnsville will likely play three games over the next four days to settle who gets the #1 seed. Edina takes the #2 seed and Prior Lake the #3 seed.

Under the new regional tourney format this year, this year (it changes from year to year) the #1 D6 seed will appear to have an easier path to a seed to the state tourney then the #2 or #3 seeds. The #1 D6 team opens against the #3 D5 team (MAML, Hutchinson, Sartell, or Willmar). The #2 D6 team opens against the #2 D5 team (St. Cloud or STMA) and the #3 D6 team opens against the #1 D3 team (Wayzata or Mpls Storm).

For those anticipating an easy match in their favorite D6 team’s opener, remember this is PeeWee A hockey. It's kids playing a game and anything can happen.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Another Way to Look at PeeWee A Hockey - Feb. 16

By frederick16

Well, it starts. Five months ago, 107 PeeWee A teams opened their hockey seasons. Each team has played around 40 games pointing towards this week, the start of the playoffs. Some teams did not make it.

In D10, Andover, Irondale, St. Francis and Coon Rapids failed to qualify for the D10 playoffs. In D9, Red Wing, Austin, Albert Lea and Faribault lost their play-in games. I have seen all these teams play games at some point during the year. I want to congratulate you for the efforts you and your team have made this year.
And I wanted you to know that people besides me and your parents are watching you play.

To those teams left in the hunt, good luck.

North Regional (D12, D15, D16) - The North Regional is shaping up as follows:
Grand Rapids would open the tourney against Brainerd and Bemidji would play Mesabi East in the upper bracket of opening round of double elimination play. The Moorhead Black would play Thief River Falls and East Grand Forks would play Hibbing in the lower bracket.

Changes this week are Brainerd replaces Detroit Lakes. The Lakers struggled as the season ended, the Warriors started to play well as a team. Greenway is replaced by Mesabi East. The three teams fighting for the seed are fairly well matched as the season ends. Mesabi East is a first year peewee A team and the host of the D12 playoffs. Roseau is replaced by EGF. The Green Wave has shown improvement, but Crookston is a threat.

District 12 - The D12 playoffs are this weekend at the Hoyt Lakes Arena. Regular season champion Grand Rapids took the #1 seed and a first round bye into the double elimination tourney. The Thunderhawks will play the winner of the Virginia/Greenway game to form the upper bracket of the tournament. The lower bracket matches Hibbing and Eveleth in one game. International Falls and host Mesabi East meet in the other game.

After struggling early in the year, Virginia has improved. The Blue Devils ended their season splitting two games with International Falls (winning 7-2 and losing 6-3) and beating Greenway 9-6 and tying Greenway 3-3. Greenway played in the Cloquet tourney two weekends ago. In pool play, they lost to Hermantown 8-2, lost to the Thunder Bay Kings 6-0, and lost to Sibley. On Sunday they lost to Coon Rapids.

Hibbing took second place in D12 and draw the #7 seed Eveleth-Gilbert team. The Bluejackets ended their season beating Orono 4-3, Rochester Red 3-1, and Warroad 9-1. They have beaten the Golden Bears twice this year 9-0 and 4-0. Eveleth-Gilbert is a team that is a favorite to most fans. They struggled all season, but just can’t get there.

The final game of the opening round matches International Falls and Mesabi East. The Broncos and Giants have split two regular season games. The Falls lost to Mesabi East 6-3 and beat them 12-8. Mesabi East played in the Proctor tourney last week. They lost to Proctor 4-3, the Wisconsin Fire 8-0, and played Hutchinson and the Duluth Lakers.

Grand Rapids has been dominant in D12 beating all the teams easily. What is strange is that in the past month, the other D12 teams have been playing some top competition and doing well. Still the Thunderhawks take the #1 seed. The #2 seed has to go to Hibbing. Hibbing and the Falls should tangle in the semifinals, but the Bluejackets should win. That leaves the #3 seed to be fought over by the Falls, Virginia, and Mesabi East. Because this is the first year at Peewee A for the Giants and they are hosting the playoff, they take the #3 seed.

District 15 - Moorhead Black took the D15 title. Four games were forfeited to the Black, two games by Moorhead Orange, one game by Little Falls, and one game by Northern Lakes. The Black ended their season beating Northern Lakes 9-1. They also lost to Wayzata twice 5-3 and 6-2 as part of Hockey Day in Minnesota.

The D15 playoffs are set. The opening round of the double elimination tourney will start this Friday in Fergus Falls. Moorhead as the #1 seed will play #8 Northern Lakes in the upper bracket. The other bracket game will match #4 seeded Brainerd and #5 seeded Detroit Lakes. In the lower bracket #2 seeded Alexandria plays #7 seed Little Falls and #3 seed Fergus Falls plays #6 seed Moorhead Orange.

Moorhead Black, as league champion, will take one of the two seeds D15 has this year. They will be playing for either the first or the second seed in the playoffs. The Black have dominated the three teams in their bracket this year, Northern Lakes, Brainerd and Detroit Lakes.

Brainerd and Detroit Lakes have struggled as regular season ended. The Warriors beat Detroit Lake early in the year 5-2, but lost to them 4-1 in mid-January. Still, the Warriors ended their season beating Alexandria 5-3. Detroit Lakes had a tough tourney in Willmar two weekends ago. The Lakers lost to Willmar 5-1 and to Owatonna 3-2. Last week, Detroit Lakes beat Fargo North 4-0 to end their regular season on a positive note.

Alexandria and Little Falls meet in the first game of the lower bracket. The Cardinals have beaten the Flyers twice this year, 5-1 and 7-0 (last Sunday). Alex had their version of the North Dakota peewee A state tourney two weekends ago. Three of the top rated North Dakota teams (Bismarck Blades, Bismarck Admirals, and the Grand Forks Greyhounds) were entered. Alexandria beat Litchfield 4-2, lost to the Blades 8-0 and lost the third place game to the Admirals 3-0.

Fergus Falls and the Moorhead Orange play each other in the final game. In December, the Otters beat the Orange 7-2 and 8-1. Fergus Falls ended their season playing two Fargo teams. They beat Fargo North 8-4 an 8-2 and lost to the Fargo Flyers Gold 12-4. The Orange are playing well since the turn of the year (beating Alex 3-2, beating Grand Forks Golden Eagles 5-4, and losing a close one to Brainerd 3-2). This will be a close game.

The Moorhead Black should dominate their side of the draw. With only two regional seeds available, the Black may be challenged only in the championship game. Brainerd and Detroit Lakes have been up and down teams. The Black takes the #1 seed. The other seed is wide open. Alex, Detroit Lakes, Brainerd, and the Moorhead Orange all have a shot.

Sometimes things just come together for a peewee team. Everything snaps into place. Two years ago, in the D12 playoffs, International Falls won their first games of the year and went on to play well in the regionals. Maybe this is Brainerd’s year to have that happen. The Warriors take the #2 seed.

District 16 - Bemidji won the D16 championship and a first round bye in the playoffs. The Lumberjacks will play the winner of the game between #4 East Grand Forks and #5 Roseau. These three teams comprise the upper bracket of the playoff.
In the lower bracket, there is a real surprise, #3 Crookston. The Pirates came on at the end of the season to take the #3 seed and will play #6 Warroad. The other lower bracket game pits #2 Thief River Falls and #7 Red Lake Falls. Thief River Falls is hosting the tourney.

The Lumberjacks have played steady hockey this year and are a balanced team. They ended their D16 season beating Roseau 7-2, Red Lake Falls 6-1, and Warroad 8-1 last weekend. Roseau and East Grand Forks have been rivals over the past few years. Both teams have fought each other for the D16 titles and state tourney seeds in the regionals. So it is odd to see the two teams playing each other so early in the playoffs.

East Grand Forks has two regular season wins over Roseau 8-3 and 6-3 (a week ago). The Green Wave have ended their season losing and winning games. In they won two of their last four games. Besides beating Roseau, they beat the Fargo Angels 4-0, lost to the Grand Forks Seaswolves 5-2 and lost to Crookston 5-4 in overtime. Roseau beat Warroad twice to end their season.

Crookston and Warroad meet in the first game of the lower bracket. Crookston has beaten Warroad twice this year 8-0 and 7-0. The Pirates have won 5 of their last 6 games. Warroad ended their season losing 5 of their last 6 games.

Thief River Falls and Red Lake Falls play in the second game in the lower bracket. The Prowlers enter the playoffs on what would seem to be a sour note losing six of their last eight games. But they played some tough teams losing to Wayzata 5-4 in overtime, STMA 3-2, Bemidji 4-3 in overtime, and Moorhead Black 3-2 in overtime. Red Lake Falls has been a slowly improving team. They have a tough draw in the playoffs.

The East Grand Forks/Roseau is a tough one to figure. The Green Wave wins over the Rams should make it easy to take them, but Roseau is always tough at tournament time. EGF should win and that would set up a Bemidji/EGF semifinal. Bemidji has beaten the Green Wave twice during the year, the nod goes to Bemidji.

In the lower bracket, Crookston and Thief River Falls should advance setting up another cross town rivalry (40 miles downriver). Crookston has lost twice to TRF this year. Another tough match, but Prowlers should win. Bemidji and Thief River Falls would then play for the #1 seed. Loser gets the#2 seed. The third seed is a tossup between Crookston, Roseau and EGF. D16 always has a surprise winner in this tourney. It is hard to believe that EGF would be knocked out in the D16 playoffs. EGF takes the #3 seed.

South Regional (D4, D8, D9) - The South Regional is shaping up as follows: In the South Regional at Rochester, Farmington would play Lakeville South and Rochester Red would play Woodbury in the upper bracket. Luverne would play Mankato and Owatonna would play Rosemount in the lower bracket.

The Rochester Red were added to the D9 playoffs and took the #1 seed from Mankato. Mankato gets the #2 D9 seed.

District 4 - D4 will be the first district to send a team to the regional. Their single seed will be filled by 3:00 this Sunday. Luverne is the odds on favorite. The Cardinals played a full D9 schedule and almost edged Mankato for the title in the last week of the season. Redwood Falls and Marshall played a D5 schedule, but unlike Luverne, their games were not counted in the D5 standings.

Luverne will open the three team round robin tourney playing Marshall. Marshall and Redwood Falls meet on Saturday in a second game. Luverne will play Redwood Falls on Sunday to complete the tourney. Luverne has beaten Redwood Falls twice this year.

District 8 - St. Cloud and STMA were headed to fight to the finish in D5. That was changed when STMA was beaten a few days before the big. In D8, Farmington and Rosemount were on a parallel path and a few days before the tourney, Woodbury beat Rosemount 3-2. The two teams squared off last Saturday at Rosemount. The game ended in a 1-1 tie. With the tie, Farmington took the D8 championship. Sunday, the Tigers beat Woodbury 2-1 to end their D8 season and Rosemount beat Sibley 7-0 to end their D8 season.

D8 playoffs open this Sunday at Hastings with the for play-in games. Hastings will play IGH/SSP in the first game; Lakeville North plays Johnson/Como is the second game; Sibley plays Eagan in the third game; and Eastview plays Apple Valley in the last play-in game of the day.

The Hastings/IGH game is a toss-up. The teams split their two regular season games played back to back in mid-January. IGH/SSP won the first game at Hastings 5-1 and lost the home game 3-1. The Spartans, after having a good home tourney have lost their last five D8 games. Always a late starting team, Hastings has played well in the last month and will be tough opening at home in front of a large crowd.

Lakeville North won a good tourney in Fargo in mid-January and has struggled since, it part due to a short bench. The Panthers have won one game in their last eight. Hopefully they will have all their kids back for the playoffs. They beat Johnson/Como twice earlier in the season 5-1 and 7-2.

Sibley and Eagan play the third play-in game this Sunday. Sibley ended their regular D8 season beating IGH/SSP 5-4. The Sibley forwards showed they could play hockey, but their defense had lapses that keep the Spartans in the game. Eagan has shown improvement in the last month of the season. In the New Hope tourney two weekends ago, the Wildcats beat Hastings 3-0 and lost to Champlin Park 3-2 in overtime. This is a tough game to call.

The final play-in game matches Eastview and Apple Valley. These two teams transferred over from D6 last year and are arch rivals. They both call the same sheet of ice, home. Eastview has had a solid year taking care of business when it mattered and Apple Valley has had a tough year having lost some key players to the Wisconsin Fire. Rivalry games are always close.

Farmington takes on the winner of the Hastings/IGH game. If Tigers play Hastings at Hastings in a key D8 game, it could be a great game. The two teams played at Farmington two weeks ago and despite the Tigers dominating play, they could not shake the Raiders. They won 4-0. It would be another old small town arch rivalry game where a little of community pride is at state.

Lakeville South plays the winner of Lakeville North/Johnson. Lakeville South hit a tough part of their schedule three weeks ago and ended up playing Farmington and Rosemount and getting beat 7-1, 7-1, and 9-1. So at the White Bear Tourney the Cougars beat Eden Prairie 6-4 and have added wins over rival Lakeville North 7-1 and Johnson/Como 7-0. The Cougars are a young team and have done well. A good D8 tourney and a trip to the South Regional will make them the favorites in D8 next year. Anything the Cougars achieve beyond that this year is gravy. Another arch rivalry game in the D8 semis is possible, but don’t discount Johnson/Como.

Rosemount plays the winner of the Sibley/Eagan game. The Irish have played some of the best hockey at the peewee A level this year. But they have been skating with 8 forwards in the past few weeks and that has thrown some of their team play off. They are constantly adjusting lines during a game. Rosemount will be a very tough team to beat.

Woodbury looked great when they beat Centennial 4-0 in the White Bear Lake tourney. And then the Predators lost to Minnetonka 6-3. After the White Bear tourney, they have played well and may have found their stride. Woodbury draws the Eastview/Apple Valley winner.

Farmington had two ties in the last week of regular season. They tied Prior Lake 3-3 in addition to tying Rosemount. They should take the #1 seed. Hastings could surprise them. Lakeville South will challenge especially if they can keep pace for the full game. Rosemount and Woodbury will tangle again in the playoffs. That will be quite a game. Woodbury, by beating Rosemount last week, gets the #2 seed and Rosemount the #3 seed. Lakeville South should get the fourth spot and an opportunity to go to the regions via play-in game.

District 9 - Last Wednesday, the D9 playoff seeding were announced. Unlike other districts, D9 chose to seed teams based on strength, not on where they finished in regular season. This change was caused by the last minute inclusion of the Rochester Red team, a team that played an independent schedule and played no D9 teams.

The Rochester Red team was placed in the East Division for purposes of seeding and given the East #1 seed. They did not earn it. Northfield, the East Champions were given the #2 East seed. Dodge County took the #3 East seed, Rochester Black the #4 East seed. The playoffs now included all teams and the Rochester Gold team was given the #5 seed and Austin the #6 seed. With Rochester added to the East Division (they are listed in the East League with an 0-0-0 record), a team had to be moved to the West Division. The last place East team, Red Wing became a West team and was seeded fourth in the West.

The rest of the West seeds went in order the D9 teams finished in regular season. Mankato took the #1 seed, Owatonna the #2 seed, New Ulm #3 seed, Albert Lea #5 seed and Faribault #6 seed. Four play-in games were added to the tourney schedule. Red Wing, now with a higher west seed, hosted the Rochester Gold at Red Wing even though the Gold finished two places higher than the Wingers in regular season.

The game was played at Bergwell Tuesday. Both teams were fired up. The Gold jumped to a 2-0 lead. The Wingers came back to tie the game 2-2. But the Wingers could not beat the Gold goalie. The Gold bottled up in their zone most of the third period, scored two goals late in the game on long passes to win 5-2.

In the other play-in games, Dodge County beat Faribault 5-1, Rochester Black beat Albert Lea 2-1, and New Ulm beat Austin 5-3.

The D9 double elimination playoffs are now set. Rochester Red will play the Rochester Gold. It will be the Red’s first official D9 game. Owatonna and Dodge County meet in the other game in the upper bracket. The Huskies added two more wins last week, beating Waconia 2-0 and Apple Valley 6-4. They have now won 10 games in a row and 18 games out of their last 20 games. They beat Dodge County 10-2 in an early season game in their only meeting.

Mankato plays Rochester Black in their opening game of the playoffs. Mankato played in the Cloquet tourney two weekends ago. The Mavericks beat Coon Rapids 4-0, lost to Spring Lake Park 6-0 and beat Apple Valley 4-2. They lost to Sibley 3-1 in the seventh place game. The Mavericks and the Black have played twice this season. Mankato has won both games (5-2 and 13-2). The Black have struggled all year but have been a thorn in Northfield’s side beating them twice in midseason. The Black beat Albert Lea in an overtime play-in game 2-1 earlier this week.

This final game of the D9 double elimination tourney first round matches Northfield and New Ulm. The two teams have not met this season. Northfield ended their season by stringing for wins together beating Apple Valley and St. Louis Park among others. New Ulm played in Alexandria’s tourney two weeks ago. They lost to Kennedy 9-3 in the consolation championship. The Eagles ended their season beating Marshall 9-2. They beat Austin in their play-in game 5-3.

Rochester Red has the easiest path as they take their 0-0-0 unbeaten D9 record into the playoffs. They need to win their first two games. Their first game against the Rochester Gold and their second is game is most likely will be Owatonna. Mankato, Northfield or New Ulm could win the lower bracket. The Rochester Black is the dark horse there. The Mavericks are the favorites. That would set up an Owatonna/Northfield battle for the third seed. Owatonna would be the favorite; the Huskies beat Northfield twice this season, 11-1 and 4-1. Rochester Red gets the #1 seed, Mankato gets the #2 seed, and Owatonna the #3 seed. Northfield takes fourth and plays the D8 fourth place team for a regional seed.

East Regional (D2, D10, D11) - The East Regional is shaping up as follows: In the East Regional, Stillwater would play Duluth East and Elk River would play White Bear Lake in the upper bracket. Hermantown would play Rogers and Centennial would play Roseville in the lower bracket.

Duluth East replaces Cloquet as the #2 seed. Despite winning their own tourney two weeks ago, the Lumberjacks are struggling. Rogers replaces Blaine as the #3 D10 seed. Rogers and Blaine tied 1-1 in the last week of D10 play and Rogers is hosting the tourney.

District 2 - Roseville lost to Tartan 4-3 on Sunday. The loss was not enough to knock the Raiders out of first place. Roseville will open the D2 playoffs on Stillwater’s Blizzard this Friday against the eighth seeded Mahtomedi. Roseville beat the Zephyrs twice in regular season play 8-4 and 4-1. The Raiders won the New Hope tourney two weeks ago beating Hopkins 5-0, Eastview 4-0 and Champlin Park 5-1 in the championship game.

Stillwater took second place. They also won on Sunday beating Hudson 2-1 in their last D2 game. The Ponies play Highland in their D2 playoff opener. The Bears have been busy in the past two weeks, first playing in their own tourney and then playing three D2 games last week. The Bears closed their D2 season losing to Stillwater 4-0, beating Highland 2-0, and beating Forest Lake 3-1. White Bear Lake took third place.

In their own tourney two weeks ago, the Bears lost to Blaine 3-2, beat Winnipeg 4-1 and lost to Edina 10-0. The Bears play Centennial this week before opening their D2 playoffs against #6 seeded Forest Lake. Tartan finally posted their wins. The Titans went from a 1-6 record to a 7-7 record and ended in fourth place. They open D2 playoffs against Moundsview. The Mustangs took a tough 2-1 loss to Stillwater in late January and have been up and down since. They took fourth place at the Minneapolis Storm tourney beating Northern Lakes 6-0 and losing to Rogers 5-1 and to Shakopee 3-1. They beat Princeton and Forest Lake to end their season.

Roseville is the favorite to win their bracket, but Tartan holds that late season win over the Raiders. Moundsview is a rugged team that seems on the verge of putting it all together. Mahtomedi demonstrated some excellent play in their forwards early in the season but have struggled since. Still Roseville should come out of the playoffs with the #1 seed. In the lower bracket, it looks like a battle between Stillwater and White Bear Lake. Stillwater owns two D2 wins. They beat the Bears early in the season 3-1 and last week 4-0.

This week, Stillwater takes the #1 seed. Roseville gets the #2 seed. Moundsview and White Bear Lake would then likely battle for the #3 seed. That will be a good game. Last year in the state tourney, White Bear Lake had Edina on the ropes until they drew to many penalties in last half of the game. They had an excellent game approach. Moundsview has talent and it is coming together, but the edge goes to the Bears. They get the #3 seed.

District 10 - Elk River and Centennial went down to the wire in the race for first in D10. Both teams needed every point. The Elks beat Anoka 5-3 and kept their “unfairplay” point. Centennial beat Andover 4-0 and lost their “unfairplay” point. Elk River is the D10 champs. They edged out Centennial by a single point in the standings.

After Andover’s great season last year ending with a state tourney appearance, the Huskies struggled all this year. They were out of the D10 playoffs before playing Centennial. Irondale was a D1 team last year and played a D2 schedule. When D1 dropped competitive hockey, Irondale joined D10.

Irondale surprised a few people this year. The Knights had a great start to the season, almost beating Cloquet in the championship game of the Super Rink Thanksgiving tourney. They lost 2-1 in a close game. But the Knights struggled in the past few months and were edged out of the D10 playoffs the last few weeks of regular season. Two other teams, Coon Rapids and St. Francis also failed to qualify for the D10 playoffs.

The D10 Playoffs are set. The goal of all the teams is to win their first two games. The winners of the first two games will take either the #1 or #2 seed. Teams that lose one of the first two games will have a chance to play for the #3 seed.

The upper bracket matches Elk River and Princeton in the first game. Rogers and Champlin Park play in the second. Since losing 4-2 to Centennial in early January, the Elks have won 10 D10 games in a row. They took third at White Bear Lake two weekends ago beating Lakeville South 6-0 and Duluth East 5-1 before losing to Eden Prairie 2-1 in pool play. As the wild card, the Elks pushed Edina before losing 3-2 in the championship semifinals. They beat OMG 3-2 for third. The Elks have beaten Princeton 6-0 and 5-0 in league play. Elk River plays STMA and St. Cloud as a tune-up to the D10 playoffs this week.

Princeton has had a good season. The Tigers lost 5-3 to the Kansas City Stars (98 AA peewee team currently ranked #22 in the nation out of 475 teams) in the championship game at Owatonna and they took third place in Hibbing’ tourney beating the host 3-2 in overtime. The Tiger’s had a strong D10 season winning and tying half their games. They will be tough.

The Rogers/Champlin Park game will be a good one. Champlin Park beat Rogers 4-1 and tied them 1-1 in league play. But that was in early December. Rogers finished strong in D10 winning five of their last six games. Their only loss was to Elk River 4-1. Champlin Park struggled as the D10 season ended losing five of their last six games. Their only win was over Coon Rapids 6-2. Champlin Park maybe down because they have had a steady diet of Cougar (Centennial style) as their season ended. They lost to the Cougars four times in the past few weeks.

In the lower bracket, Centennial plays Spring Lake Park and Blaine plays Anoka. Centennial went on tear in the past month in D10. They strung 10 D10 wins together beating Spring Lake Park twice 3-1 and 6-1. The Cougars played in the White Bear Tourney two weekends ago, tying Minnetonka 2-2, losing to Woodbury 4-0 and beating OMG 3-2. Centennial plays White Bear Lake this week. Spring Lake Park also had a great season winning or tying over half their games. The Panthers played well in D10 over the past few weeks. They needed to do well to make the playoffs and they did. Spring Lake Park played in Cloquet’s tourney two weekends ago. They tied Waconia 4-4, beat Mankato 6-0, beat Coon Rapids 7-2 and lost to St. Cloud 6-2 in the third place game.

The final game of the quarter finals has Blaine playing Anoka. The Bengals got off to a strong start this year, taking third place at Burnsville turkey day tourney and surprising people in the Duluth tourney two weeks later by beating Wayzata 5-4 to get to Championship Sunday. In the past month, Blaine has lost twice in 9 D10 games. They have beaten Anoka twice in league play 5-2 and 3-2. Anoka surprised Rosemount, beating the Irish 3-2 in the championship game of their tourney a month ago. The Tornadoes then lost three tough games (to Spring Lake Park 3-2, to Centennial 3-1, and to Rogers 3-2. Since then they have been on a rampage winning six of their last seven games.

Elk River are the favorites to take their first round games, but can be beaten. The Rogers/Champlin Park game is a tough one to pick. So is the Blaine/Anoka game. The Elks should take the #1 seed to the East Regional and Centennial should take the #2 seed. The Blaine/Anoka winner may change that. So the nod here goes to Anoka beating Blaine and Centennial to take the #2 seed. That means Rogers would have to come back to beat Blaine and Centennial to get the #3 seed. But it is Rogers’s home ice. They take the #3 seed.

District 11 - Cloquet won their tourney two weeks ago. In pool play, the Lumberjacks beat Sibley 6-1 Coon Rapids 8-1, and Waconia. In the championship game, they beat the Thunder Bay Kings 1-0. Cloquet lost to 4-3 just before the tourney. That loss cost the Lumberjacks the D11 title. Cloquet played Rogers last week losing 6-1.

Cloquet and Duluth East will play each other in the opening round of the D11 playoffs
Hermantown took the D11 title and get a first round bye in the D11 playoffs. They also played in Cloquet’s tourney and took fifth place. The Hawks beat Greenway 8-2, lost to Thunder Bay 5-2 and tied St. Cloud 3-3 in pool play. They beat Waconia 8-4 in the fifth place game. Hermantown plays the winner of the Duluth Lakers/Proctor game.

Duluth East takes third place in D11. They played in the White Bear Tourney two weeks ago. The Hounds lost to Eden Prairie 9-1, lost to Elk River 5-1, and beat Lakeville South 6-1. Last week, the Duluth East beat White Bear Lake 4-2 and hosted the Rochester Red on the weekend.

The Duluth Lakers take fourth place in D11. The Lakers played Hutchinson, Proctor, Mesabi East, and lost to the Wisconsin Fire 4-0 in Proctor’s tourney on the weekend. Proctor takes fifth place. Proctor beat Hutchinson 3-2, lost to the Duluth Lakers 10-0, beat Mesabi East 4-3, and lost to the Wisconsin Fire 6-2 in their tourney. The Duluth Lakers and Proctor open the D11 playoffs on the 21st.

The D11 playoffs start first round play on the 21st. This is a tough district to figure out. The #1 seed goes to Hermantown, the Hawks have struggled at times, but not against D11 foes. The old zinc penny came out and the flip went to Duluth East for the #2 seed.

West Regional (D3, D5, D6) - The West Regional is shaping up as follows: In the West Regional, St. Cloud would play Mpls Storm and Eden Prairie would play MAML in the upper bracket. Wayzata would play Prior Lake and Edina would play STMA in the lower bracket.

Mpls Storm replaces Crow River. The Storm had a strong finish to their season. Burnsville replaces Edina. Burnsville beat Edina and Eden Prairie lost. That gave the Blaze the D6 #1 seed this week. Edina and Prior Lake swapped their seeds.
District 3-Two weeks ago, Wayzata beat OMG 6-4 to end any suspense on who would be the league champions. The Trojans take the #1 seed. But OMG needed a Valentine’s Day win over Crow River to keep the #2 seed. They beat Crow River 2-1. That win edged out the Mpls Storm who finished third. Armstrong took fourth and Crow River took fifth. Orono and Mound Westonka took sixth and seventh. St. Louis Park and Hopkins play Thursday at the PIC for the #8 seed.

Wayzata and the winner of the #8 seed will open play at the PIC on Saturday. In the other side of the bracket, Armstrong and Crow River will meet.

Both Armstrong and Crow River finished the season strong. The Spartans lost only a 2-1 game to Wayzata in their last five D3 games. They took third place in their home tourney two weekends ago, beating Hastings 4-1, losing to Champlin Park 6-5, and beating Eastview 4-0. They also beat Hermantown 4-2 and Mahtomedi 6-4 last week. Armstrong beat Crow River twice. They beat the Tigers 2-1 very early in the season and 3-2 last week. Crow River lost to Prior Lake 6-2 three weeks ago in the Inver Grove Heights Tourney championship game. Since then, they have split games with the Mpls Storm, and beat St. Louis Park besides losing to Armstrong. Two tough teams going at and the winner should challenge Wayzata.

In the lower bracket, #2 OMG plays Mound/Westonka and Mpls Storm play Orono. OMG hold two regular season wins over the Whitehawks. They beat them 6-1 in December and 4-0 last week.

The Mpls Storm has beaten Orono twice this season, 4-0 and 7-1. The Mpls Storm has developed well as a team. They were tough at the start of the year and got tougher after January 1st. The Storm have lost four games in the 20 games they have played in 2011. They have beaten Centennial, tied Wayata, beat OMG in those 20 games. Two of their four losses were to Rogers. Orono made it to the state last year and were a team that many rooted for to take the title. This year’s Spartans have struggled, but they have finished on a high note, winning their last four games.

With the two D3 regional seeds up for grabs, Wayzata is favored to take one. But the Trojans need to win three games to get there. Armstrong or Crow River will challenge the Trojans and then mostly likely OMG or Mpls Park. D3 teams always seem to start slow and start to catch the Trojans as the year ends. But they never quite do it. But Wayzata should take the #1 seed. The #2 seed is a tough pick. There are four teams, OMG, Armstrong, Crow River, or Mpls Park that could take it. Mpls Park is my choice especially if they do not have to play OMG twice in the tourney.

District 5 - St. Cloud and STMA have been running neck and neck all season in D5. Last week, the two teams played an intense game. St. Cloud won 3-2 to claim the D5 title. Unfortunately, River Lakes spoiled the party a week earlier by beating STMA 2-1 and taking the Knights out of contention. St. Cloud draws the winner of the Hutchinson/Litchfield game in the D5 playoffs. STMA beat Champlin Park 1-0 and Buffalo 6-0 last week. STMA plays Elk River this week before the playoffs. The Knights draw the winner of the Willmar/Sauk Rapids game.

The Knights swept through the D5 playoffs last year, but will have a more difficult path this year. Last year, Crow River, now a threat to take a D3 ticket to this regional, was a favorite to take a seed. But Crow River lost to Buffalo in the first round and could not recover. Neither the Knights nor St. Cloud should overlook that first game.

Sartell meets Buffalo in the other half of the upper bracket. The two teams split their regular season games, Sartell winning 2-1 early on and Buffalo winning 6-2 in January. Both teams are struggling, but the Bison have shown improvement. They have lost some close games to good teams in the past few weeks. Sartell will be playing in front of a home crowd and that will help.

Two improving teams, MAML and River Lakes, meet in the other half of the lower bracket. MAML began to show improvement in mid-December when they tied STMA 2-2 in a D5 game. River Lakes surprised STMA last week with their win. The two teams have played each other three times this season an MAML has won all three games (6-2, 4-2 and 2-1), but in hockey, the more times you play a team, the more difficult it gets to beat that team. This will be a tough game and one of the more interesting games to watch.

The last four finishers in D5 were Sauk Rapids, Willmar, Hutchinson, and Litchfield-Cokato/Dassel. These teams seam to always get a late start in their hockey season and then accelerate their improvement as the season ends. Sauk Rapids and Willmar this year have improved enough to where they could slip into the regional. Sauk Rapids came over from D10 last year with St. Cloud are not used to being in a district playoff. In D10, only the top 8 D10 teams make the D10 playoff.

The Sauk Rapids Storm played in the first tourney of the year at Spring Lake Park in early November. Their home ice is at the county fairgrounds and doesn’t hold ice the year round. That sets them back in forming a team. So it was surprising to see them entered in an early tourney. For a team that was just getting rolling in that tourney, the Storm impressed with the discipline they showed. Since then, they have played most of the D5 teams tough but can’t seem to make that step to play with the St. Clouds.

Willmar has a nice facility, one of the best in the state. They are also an improving team. The Cardinals struggled early on and lost big to STMA and Sartell. But they closed the season winning five of their last six games and took second place in their own tourney a week ago beating Detroit Lakes 5-1 (after losing to the Lakers 8-3 early on) and the Fargo Flyer Black 5-2.

MAML and Sauk Rapids maybe improving teams, but Litchfield after taking some hard knocks early on surprised both teams by beating them (MAML 4-1 and Sauk Rapids 9-7) in the last month of the season. Litchfield added wins over Marshall 7-1 and Redwood Falls 11-1 to end their regular season on a high note.

Hutchinson beat River Lakes 4-1 two weekends ago, the day after River Lakes beat STMA 2-1. Last weekend, the Tigers played in the Proctor tourney. They lost to the Wisconsin Fire 8-1, lost to Proctor 3-2, played Mesabi East and the Duluth Lakers.

D5 sends three teams to the regionals and two teams, STMA and St. Cloud, are strong favorites to take two of the three seeds. St. Cloud gets the #1 seed this week and STMA get the #2 seed. The fight for the third seed will be donnybrook. MAML and River Lakes could be battling for the final seed on Saturday. MAML takes the #3 seed.

One final note, for those who will be at the D5 tourney in Litchfield, take some time between games and walk the halls of the Litchfield high school across the street from the arena. It is usually open with some sporting activity. The high school has been given each graduating class a large section of hallway. The class paints a mural on that panel. They have been doing this for around 25 years. It is worthwhile seeing.

District 6 - Going into the last weekend of the season, Burnsville, Eden Prairie, and Edina all had a shot at the D6 title and all had a shot at the coveted #2 seed for the D2 playoffs and they all played each other. Burnsville and Edina opened the action on Friday at Burnsville’s Rink 2, a smaller rink that soon became crowded with fans standing two and three deep along the boards. It was a great game. It had that old time hockey feel to it. The Blaze took an early lead and Edina stormed back to tie the game. In the third period, a key moment came when the Burnsville coach changed lines at a faceoff in their zone. Edina didn’t creating a mismatch. The stronger fresh Blaze line simple took the faceoff, skated the puck down the ice and scored after a little melee in front of the Edina goal. Burnsville won 5-4 and that gave the Blaze the championship. Edina now had to play Eden Prairie for the #2 spot on Sunday.

The Eden Prairie Eagles have been an up and down team and have had outstanding goal tending in crucial games. Edina has a team this year that has shown great improvement in the last two months. Their bigger forwards look to have matured to the point where they can really apply their hockey skills. It looked to be a game where the Hornets would attack and hold the Eagles in their zone. The Eagles would use their good defense to break the puck out occasionally.

The Eagles came out firing and turned the game into an up and down affair. That gave the Hornets room to maneuver down low around the goal and they did. Edina won 6-3.

The top 5 teams in D6 are seeded into the double elimination part of the playoffs. The remaining 5 teams play a single game elimination tourney for the sixth seed. In addition the top two seeds get a first round bye in the double elimination tourney.
Shakopee and Kennedy will open the single elimination part of the D6 playoffs on Thursday in Chaska. The winner will play #6 seeded Chaska on Friday. In the other Friday game, #8 Jefferson plays #7 Waconia. The winners of these two games meet on Saturday with the winner of that game getting the #6 seed in the double elimination round.

On Sunday, the first two games in the double elimination round are played. Prior Lake plays Eden Prairie and Minnetonka plays the #6 seed (who will be playing their third game in three days or their fourth game in four days). Sunday’s winners will play the #1 and #2 seeded teams on Monday. Burnsville plays the winner of the Minnetonka/#6 seed game and Edina plays the winner of the Prior Lake/Eden Prairie game.

D6 has been using this playoff format for years and it is a grueling tourney especially if you have to start back in the single elimination part of the tourney. It incentivizes league play and winning league games since the lower in the final standings a team finishes, the harder it is to make it to the regionals. It is one of the reasons D6 teams always do well in the regional and state tourneys.

If Chaska plays where Chaska should be playing, they should take the #6 seed and will be a threat to take one of the three regional seeds. But Burnsville and Edina are playing at the top of their game and should take two of the seeds. Give the Blaze the #1 seed and Edina the #2 seed. That leaves Minnetonka, Eden Prairie and Prior Lake. So out came the old zinc penny. Prior Lake takes the #3 seed, but that penny wanted to be flipped again.

There is one final observation to offer the readers. Over the past three years, Edina has started strong, stayed strong, but never showed great improvement. This year’s team started OK and in the last month has shown tremendous improvement.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Another Way to Look at PeeWee A Hockey - Feb. 3

By frederick61

With the PeeWee A district playoffs starting in two weeks, which teams are likely to emerge with regional seeds and which teams are likely to provide a strong challenge has been the focus of this blog since November. Now it is time to shift focus to the regional tourneys. Each regional tourney will have the same double elimination format. That format can be found on the Minnesota Hockey website. This format is a change from last year.

Also on that website is the regional draw. That draw is specified each year. It is the same for each region. If you have been following this blog, the district write-ups are listed under the regions in which the district playoff winners will play. Districts 12, 16, and 15 will play in the North Regional; Districts 8, 9, and 4 will play in the South Regional; Districts 2, 10, 11 will play in the East Regional; and Districts 5, 6 and 3 will play in the West Regional.

The order of the districts listed above has meaning in determining the regional first round pairings. D12, D8, D2, and D5 are assigned an A definition for purpose of determining pairings; D16, D9, D10, and D6 are assigned a B definition for purpose of pairings; and D15, D4, D11, and D3 are assigned a C definition. The pairings for all peewee A regionals this year is then A1/C2, B1/A3, C1/B3, and B2/A2.

So based on how the teams are ranked this week, here is a potential draw for all four regional tourneys (remember some of this was determined by coin flips and pulling names out of a paper bag).

In the North Regional, Grand Rapids would open the tourney against Detroit Lakes and Bemidji would play Greenway in the upper bracket of opening round of double elimination play. The Moorhead Black would play Thief River Falls and Roseau would play Hibbing in the lower bracket.

In the South Regional, Farmington would play Lakeville South and Mankato would play Woodbury in the upper bracket. Luverne would play Northfield and Owatonna would play Rosemount in the lower bracket.

In the West Regional, St. Cloud would play Crow River and Eden Prairie would play MAML in the upper bracket. Wayzata would play Edina and Prior Lake would play STMA in the lower bracket.

In the East Regional, Stillwater would play Cloquet and Elk River would play White Bear Lake in the upper bracket. Hermantown would play Blaine and Centennial would play Roseville in the lower bracket.

This draw is based on where the teams are this week. Next week, it could change dramatically. It probably will and it will be updated over the next few weeks until the district playoffs are over.

Playing competitively in any sport is always about the moment, about this week, about the game today. One thing is always certain, there will be a winner and there will be a loser for each moment. And one thing is equally certain, once that moment is gone, people forget. Even players in that “big game” forget. Years later, should the players or coaches or parents involved meet, they remember. But memory is not the feeling of “joy of winning or the agony of defeat”. They remember differently. Those feelings are gone and have been replaced with a happiness or a warm feeling about the big game. It is because they were there.

So on this Super Bowl weekend, who remembers the champions from 2008?

North Regional (D12, D15, D16) - The North Regional is shaping up as follows:
D12 has three seeds to the North this year and only one team, Grand Rapids, that has played well enough to be a clear favorite to take one of the seeds. The remaining two seeds are going begging, looking for another D12 team to grab a seed. Hibbing comes close, but the Bluejackets have had an up and down year. International Falls, Greenway, Virginia, and Mesabi East have played well enough at times to make a move. Only Eveleth has struggled this year.

D15 has two seeds to the North. Moorhead Black remains a favorite for one of those seeds. The regular season D15 champion is already in the North Regional. If Moorhead Black is the champion, the remaining seed is really going begging. Alexandria, Brainerd, Fergus Falls, Little Falls, Moorhead Orange, and Northern Lakes can all contend. The D15 playoffs are in Fergus Falls this year.

D16 has three seeds and five teams (Bemidji, Thief River Falls, Roseau, Crookston, and East Grand Forks) that will battle for those three seeds. Bemidji and Thief River Falls have played strong all year and should make the regionals. Both teams have struggled a little in the past two weeks. Roseau has improved since losing 6 games in a row at the end of December. East Grand Forks have been an up and down team (they lost to Crookston 6-4 in a D16 game last week). Crookston can be dangerous.

The North had one of four peewee A tournaments in the state last week in Warroad. Nine teams entered. Three Minnesota teams (STMA, Roseau, and Warroad), four North Dakota teams (Fargo Angels, Grand Forks Seawolves-#1 ranked North Dakota team, Fargo Raiders, and Devils Lake) and two Canadian teams (Morden and Fort Francis’s BP Royal). STMA, Roseau and Devils Lake won their pools; STMA won the championship.

District 12 - The D12 playoffs are out. Only one team, the #1 seed, will get a first round bye. Grand Rapids has that bye. The Thunderhawks beat Hibbing 8-0 and Mesabi East 10-3 last week. This week they play Bemidji.

Hibbing played Virginia last week in addition to losing to Grand Rapids. The Bluejackets host Orono and play Eveleth this week. Virginia played International Falls and Greenway besides Hibbing last week. Virginia plays International Falls again this week.

Greenway played Proctor besides Virginia last week. They play in Cloquet’s tourney this weekend and draw Hermantown, Sibley, and the Thunder Bay Kings in pool play. International Falls played three D12 games last week, Mesabi East, Virginia, and Eveleth. This week the Bronco’s play two more D12 games Virginia and Mesabi East.
Mesabi East’s only game is with the Falls this week. Last week, the Giants, played Eveleth and the Falls besides losing to Grand Rapids. Mesabi East will host the D12 playoffs in two weeks.

Grand Rapids keeps the #1 seed to the North Regional this week and Hibbing takes the #2 seed. The third seed this week goes to Greenway. No team is out of this playoff.

District 15 - Things get tight as regular season winds down and every point matters. Moorhead Association chose to have the Moorhead Orange forfeit their two D15 games to the Moorhead Black at the start of the season. With the forfeit, both teams lost their “unfairplay” points. The Black have only a 13 game D15 schedule (the other teams are playing 14 games). One of the 13 games, Northern Lakes, may not have been played.

Currently, the Black are clearly the best team in D15. But they could sweep their remaining games and end up with 33 points. Alexandria can sweep its remaining games and end up with 34 points (despite losing to Detroit Lake this week 4-2). This year the regular season champion gets an automatic seed to the North Regional. It should be the Moorhead Black, but their schedule moves could force them to win the D15 playoff.
Last week, the Black beat Brainerd 10-0 to remain unbeaten in D15. The Black played a second game, losing to Bemidji 6-2. This week they end their D15 season playing Fergus Falls and Little Falls and entertain Thief River Falls.

Things look bleak for the Moorhead Orange two weeks ago after losing to Alexandria 7-2. Last week, things got better. The Orange won three games beating the Grand Forks Golden Eagles 5-4, Red Lake Falls 7-1 and Detroit Lakes 7-2. The Orange play Grand Forks and Winnipeg this week. They have one D15 game left on Feb 12th as part of Hockey Day Minnesota. They play Northern Lakes. Both teams are battling to get out of the D15 cellar. The loser will most likely draw Moorhead Black or Alexandria in the D15 playoffs opening game. The winner will most likely draw Moorhead Black or Alexandria in their playoff opening game.

Alexandria beat Fergus Falls 4-2 and lost to Detroit Lakes 4-2 last week. The loss to Detroit Lakes may have cost the Cardinals the regular season title and an automatic seed to the North Regional. Alex has two D15 games remaining to play.

Alex has their tourney this week. They play Litchfield in the opening game of bracket play. The second ranked North Dakota team, the Bismarck Blades, play New Ulm in the second game of the upper bracket. What really makes this tourney interesting, especially to North Dakota fans, is that the top ranked Grand Forks Greyhounds play Sartell in the first game of the lower bracket. If that isn’t enough, the eighth ranked Bismarck Admirals play Bloomington Kennedy. Alex tourney this year is a preview of the North Dakota State Tourney that will be held the weekend of March 4th. All three North Dakota teams should be in the eight team state tourney field.

Fergus Falls played Brainerd and Northern Lakes last week. The Otters play their last D9 game this week against the Moorhead Black.

Besides losing to the Moorhead Black, Brainerd played Fergus Falls last week. The Warriors have two D15 games remaining (Little Falls and Alexandria). Detroit Lakes completed their D15 season last week. They played Little Falls, beat Alexandria, and lost to the Moorhead Orange.

Northern Lakes plays in the Minneapolis Winter Storm tourney held at Parade Ice Gardens. The Lightning play Moundsview in the opening round of bracket play and will be tested.

Moorhead Black keeps the #1 seed this week; Detroit Lakes takes the #2 seed from Alexandria. The Lakers beat the Cardinals this week and to the victor goes the spoils.

District 16 - Bemidji and Thief River Falls tangled on Sunday with the D16 regular season title at stake. The Lumberjacks won 4-3 in overtime to take top spot and should win the D16 crown easily. They have three D16 games left to play (Warroad, Roseau, and Red Lake Falls). Last week, Bemidji beat Moorhead 6-2. This week, they play Grand Rapids.

Thief River Falls should lock up second place. The Prowlers play Crookston and Red Lake Falls in their final D16 games this season. Thief River also plays Moorhead Black this weekend.

Warroad held a tourney last week with an interesting mix of North Dakota, Canadian and Minnesota teams. STMA, Roseau, and Devils Lake North Dakota made it to the championship round. STMA won the tourney on a tie breaker. Roseau got the championship round by betting the Grand Forks Seawolves 7-4 and the Fargo Raiders 12-4. The Rams beat STMA 3-2, in the championship round but lost to Devils Lake 5-4. STMA beat Devils Lake 9-2 to win the tourney on a tie breaker.

Roseau plays three D16 games this week, entertaining Warroad and traveling to Crookston and East Grand Forks. The EGF beat the Fargo Flyers Gold 7-6 last week and lost to Crookston 6-4. Besides playing Roseau this week, EGF plays the Grand Forks Seawolves.
Crookston had a nice win over EGF. The Pirates have a tough week ahead. They play Red Lake Falls, Roseau, Warroad, and Thief River Falls in D16 games. Four wins could put the Pirates in second place in D16.

No changes in the seeding this week. Bemidji keeps the #1 seed. Roseau moves to the #2 seed and TRF the #3 seed.

South Regional (D4, D8, D9) - The South Regional is shaping up as follows:
D4 has Luverne as the likely #1 seed with Marshall and Redwood Falls challenging.
D8 has Farmington, Rosemount, Woodbury and one of the Lakeville teams being seeded into their double elimination portion of their tourney. The remaining teams (one of the Lakeville teams, Eastview, Hastings, Sibley, IGH/SSP, Johnson/Como, Apple Valley and Eagan) play a single elimination round for entry into the double elimination tourney.
D9 playoff draw is solidifying with Northfield, Rochester Black, Dodge County, and Rochester Gold winning the East seeds; and Mankato, Owatonna, New Ulm and Albert Lea winning the West seeds.

Eight D9 teams will play in Rochester March 4-6. It should be quite a tourney.
D9 playoffs will start Thursday, February 17th and will finish the following Sunday, February 20th. D8 playoffs will begin Sunday, February 20th and will finish Sunday, February 27th. 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 February 27th. The site of the play-in game is unknown.

District 4 - Luverne lost to Mankato 8-4 last Sunday. As a result, Mankato takes the D9 West title and the Cardinals have to settle for a second place finish. Luverne beat Austin 9-2 in D9 last week and have finished their D9 schedule.

The Cardinals host a peewee A tourney this week. Sioux Falls Blue, Johnson/Como, Austin, Freemont Nebraska, and Marshall are entered. The Cardinals play the Sioux Falls Blue and Austin in pool play.

Marshall also plays in the Luverne tourney. The Tigers draw Johnson/Como and Fremont Nebraska in pool play. Marshall lost last week to the Sioux Falls Blue 7-2. At the Watertown North Dakota Jamboree, the Tigers lost to Watertown 5-2.

This will be Fremont’s second trip to Minnesota this year. The Flyers played in the Northfield tourney losing to Austin 6-3, beating Red Wing 5-2 and losing to Faribault 4-2 in the consolation championship.

The Sioux Falls Blue took second two weeks ago at the Fergus Falls tourney beating River Lakes 5-3 and Mesabi East 4-3 before losing to Fergus Falls in the championship game 9-2.
Redwood Falls has an off week. Luverne keeps the #1 seed this week.

District 8 - Farmington and Rosemount continued their march toward February 12th game by extending their D8 winning streaks. The Tigers beat Hastings 4-0 and Sibley 5-0 over the weekend. They play IGH/SSP this week. Rosemount beat Lakeville South twice, 7-1 and 7-1, and beat Apple Valley. The Irish play Woodbury this week. Both Farmington and Rosemount remain unbeaten and untied in D8 play. Farmington has kept two more “unfairplay” points.

In their game against Lakeville South, a Rosemount forward scored a funky goal. He swooped in going left to right a couple feet in front of the goalie but was too close to lift the puck over the goalie. Instead he softened the shot and went for the goalie’s blocker (the goalie had it down low) and rolled the puck off the blocker using the blocker’s angled leather to direct the puck upward into the net.

Woodbury won three D8 games last week, beating Hastings twice, 7-0 and 6-1, and Lakeville North 5-4. This week, the Predators play in the White Bear Lake tourney. They draw OMG, Minnetonka, and Centennial in pool play. Woodbury has three D8 games remaining. They return from White Bear to play Rosemount this week and finish their D8 season playing Farmington and Apple Valley. The Predators should finish third.

The two Lakeville teams had a tough week. North is still playing with a short bench. They lost to Chaska 4-2 and lost to Woodbury 5-4. The Panthers now have extended their losing streak to four games in D8. The Panthers play IGH/SSP this week. The South had three tough D8 games to play last week. The Cougars lost to Farmington and twice to Rosemount. They play in White Bear’s tourney drawing Duluth East, Eden Prairie, and Elk River in pool play.

Both the North and the South have two D8 games left; the North plays IGH and Lakeville South; and Lakeville South has a make-up with Johnson/Como and play Lakeville North. Both teams are tied with 29 points each. The Lakeville teams seemed to be destined to play each other in the opening round of the double elimination part of the D8 playoffs unless the Lakeville team finishing fifth is upset in the single elimination round.

Hastings had a rough week losing to Woodbury twice, tying Eagan 2-2, and losing to Farmington. The Raiders have two games left, Sibley and Eastview. Eastview beat IGH/SSP and beat Eagan 1-0 last week. The Eagan game was a fun game for the fans to watch. But it probably gave both coaches ulcers.

Both teams skated hard and maintained a fast pace. Both teams would make a bad play only to make a great play to recover. The Lightning scored the only goal early in the third period and hung on. With the clock winding down and Eagan on a power play (skating 6 on 4 after pulling their goalie), a melee resulted in three of the four Lightning forwards on the ice being given penalties.

That actually worked to Eastview’s advantage. The hour clock ran out before the refs could sort the penalties out. Both teams lost their “unfairplay” point.

Hastings and Eastview will meet in the last D8 game of their season. They should be playing for 6th or 7th place in the standings. The two teams may meet sooner. Both are playing in the New Hope tourney this weekend. Hastings draws Armstrong in the opening game of bracket play; Eastview draws MAML.

Sibley had been playing well, but were upended by Johnson/Como 3-2 and lost to Farmington last week. The Generals play Hastings this week and can make a move to take sixth or seventh place by stringing wins together over Hastings and IGH/SSP. Johnson/Como plays in the Luverne tourney this week. The Devils draw Marshall and Freemont Nebraska in pool play.

Sibley and Apple Valley head north to play in Cloquet’s tourney. Sibley draws St. Cloud, Greenway and Superior in pool play. Apple Valley draws Cloquet, Waconia, and Mankato in pool play. Apple Valley lost a D8 game to Eastview 8-1 and lost to the Mpls Storm 6-1 last week. The Eagles host Northfield after they return from Cloquet.

Eagan joins Eastview and Sibley at New Hope. They draw Champlin Park in opening round of bracket play. Last week the Wildcats tied Hastings and lost to Eastview. IGH/SSP had a good tourney two weekends ago, but lost Woodbury and Eastview last week. Against Woodbury, the Spartans were trailing 2-1 halfway through the game when their defense failed them. IGH/SSP plays Farmington and Lakeville North this week.

There are no changes in the D8 seeds this week. Farmington keeps the #1 seed this week. Rosemount keeps the #2 seed. Woodbury keeps the #3 seed. For the D8 playoffs, the seeding looks something like this: #1 Farmington or Rosemount, #2 Farmington or Rosemount, #3 Woodbury, and #4 Lakeville North or Lakeville South. The four teams likely to survive the single elimination round are #5 Lakeville North or Lakeville South, #6 Eastview or Hastings, #7 Eastview or Hastings, #8 Sibley or IGH/SSP. Note that Apple Valley, Eagan, or Johnson/Como can still overtake IGH/SSP (or Sibley) giving any of these three teams a better chance to get to the double elimination part of the D8 playoffs. Four of the eight teams in the double elimination will advance.

District 9 - Mankato had a great week last week beating New Ulm twice 8-3 and 7-4 besides beating second place Luverne 8-4. Mankato has a single game left with Faribault. They will take the #1 West seed to the D9 playoffs. But all the Mavericks need to do is to show up for game against Faribault next week and collect their “unfairplay” point to win the title outright to win the D9 West title.

The Mavericks travel to Cloquet this week to play in the Lumberjacks tourney. They draw Coon Rapids, Spring Lake Park, and Apple Valley in pool play.

Owatonna continues to roll. The Huskies are 12-2 in the last six weeks. Last week, they beat Mason City 4-2, Northfield 4-1 and the Rochester Gold 5-0. Owatonna is locked in third place in the D9 west and will take the #2 West seed into the D9 playoffs. The Huskies play in Willmar’s tourney this week. They play Fargo Flyer Black, Detroit Lakes, and Willmar. When they return home, they will play Faribault to end their D9 season.

New Ulm opened their week optimistically beating Faribault 3-2 before losing twice to Mankato to end their D9 season. New Ulm takes the #3 West seed. The Eagles play in Alexandria this weekend. They draw the Bismarck Blades in the opening round of bracket play. New Ulm will face a tough team. The Blades are 12-0 leading the North Dakota South League and are ranked #2 in North Dakota.

Albert Lea plays their last D9 game this week, hosting Dodge County. The Tigers hold a 3 point lead over Faribault for the last D9 West seed to the playoffs. A win will put Faribault’s back to the wall and force the Falcons to sweep their last two games. The Falcons lost to Northfield last week. They finish their season this week playing Owatonna and Mankato.

Faribault played in the Red Wing tourney over the weekend. They lost to Sauk Rapids, beat Albert Lea and lost to Tartan 6-1 in the consolation championship. Albert Lea lost to Red Wing and played Rochester Black in the same tourney.

In the D9 East, Northfield finished their D9 season beating Dodge County 7-0 and beating Faribault 4-2 last week. They still had a tough week losing to Owatonna and Mankato. But the Raiders win the D9 East title and will take the D9 East #1 seed to the D9 playoffs. This week the Raiders host St. Louis Park, play at Albert Lea and play at Apple Valley.

Rochester Black and Dodge County are in a battle for the #2 and #3 seeds in the D9 East. The two teams play this Sunday to decide that. Dodge County lost to Northfield last week. This week they play Albert Lea in addition to the Rochester Black to end their D9 season.

Rochester Gold lost to Austin 6-5 and to Owatonna 5-0 last week to complete their D9 season. The Gold will most likely take the #4 East. Austin made a great effort to try to overtake the Gold and gain the #4 seed last week, but came up short. The Packers beat Dodge County 4-2 besides beating the Gold. Austin ran out steam against Luverne losing 9-2.

Red Wing had a short bench going into their tourney last weekend. The Wingers beat Albert Lea in the opening game but lost in the semifinal game to Sauk Rapids. Red Wing lost the third place game 11-0 to Shakopee. The Wingers are out of the D9 playoffs. After going 5-2-1 in their opening eight D9 games, Red Wing lost their last five D9 games playing with a short bench. Over the D9 season, they lost 6 of their first 13 “unfairplay” points.

The draw for the D9 playoffs should be Northfield/Albert Lea and Owatonna/ (Rochester Black or Dodge County) in the upper bracket. In the lower bracket Mankato/Rochester Gold and New Ulm/ (Rochester Black or Dodge County) play. It is a double elimination tourney. Teams making it to the finals will be seeded #1 and #2; the team that wins the loser bracket takes the #3 seed and the runner-up in the loser bracket plays seed #4 from D8 for the D4 #2 seed to the South Regional.

Nothing changes this week. Mankato keeps the #1 seed this week and Owatonna takes the #2 seed. Northfield takes the #3 seed. Austin and Red Wing are out of the D9 playoffs, Faribault is barely hanging in.

East Regional (D2, D10, D11) - The East Regional is shaping up as follows:
D2 has Roseville as a strong candidate, though the Raiders lost 2-1 to Stillwater last week. Stillwater is looking stronger and White Bear Lake has shown some late season improvement. Moundsview look tough against Stillwater ten days ago and Tartan has been a dangerous team. No guarantees in D2 this year.

D10 had the Elks running away with the title last week and that hasn’t changed. Centennial has come on strong and can still catch the Elks. Blaine continues to play steady hockey. Rogers has shown improvement. Only one thing is certain in D10 this week and that is Coon Rapids, St. Francis, and Irondale will not be in the district playoffs. Andover may be the fourth team out of the D10 playoffs.

D11 remains a jumble as the teams have been quiet the past few weeks. At this point, Cloquet, Hermantown and Duluth East are the strongest teams chasing for the two D11 seeds to the North Regional.

District 2 - Roseville split their two D2 games last week, beating Mahtomedi 4-1 and losing to Stillwater 2-1. The Raiders have two D2 games left (Hudson and Tartan) and need to win one to take the regular season title and the #1 seed. Roseville plays in the New Hope tourney and open bracket play against Hopkins this weekend. They play Hudson in one of their last two games the Monday after the New Hope Tourney.

Stillwater beat Roseville in their only D2 game this week. The Ponies tied Rochester Red 0-0 last week. Stillwater and Hudson remain in a battle for second place. The Ponies play Forest Lake in their only D2 game this week. Hudson added two D2 wins last week beating Forest Lake 3-0 and Moundsview 4-3. Hudson plays Mahtomedi and Roseville this week.

Forest Lake, White Bear Lake, and Tartan are in a battle for third place in D2. Forest Lake beat Highland 4-2 last week besides losing to Hudson. This week, the Rangers have a single D2 game with Stillwater.

White Bear Lake has their Moose Goheen tourney this week at the new Vadnais Heights facility. Twelve teams are entered. White Bear Lake is in a pool with Blaine, Edina, and Winnipeg. Duluth East, Eden Prairie, Elk River, and Lakeville South are in a second pool. Centennial, Minnetonka, OMG, and Woodbury are in the third pool. The Bears beat Duluth East 5-4 and Rochester Red 4-3 last week. They play Stillwater in D2 action after the tourney.

After Tartan lost to White Bear Lake last week, they played in the Red Wing tourney taking the consolation title. The Titans lost to Shakopee 4-2, beat the Rochester Black 11-0 and Faribault 6-1. They play Highland and Moundsview in D2 games this week.
Moundsview plays in the Winter Storm tourney on the weekend at Parade Ice Gardens. The Mustangs open bracket play against Northern Lakes. The Mustang play Tartan in a D2 game after the tourney.

Mahtomedi plays Highland besides playing Hudson this week. Highland plays three D2 games this week, Tartan, Mahtomedi, and White Bear Lake to end their D2 season.
Stillwater’s win over Roseville last week was a good win for the Ponies. They take the #1 seed from the Raiders. Roseville takes the #2 seed. White Bear takes the #3 seed.

District 10 - Elk River beat Blaine 4-2 and Rogers 5-2 last week to bring their D10 league leading record to 19-2; however, Centennial (14-2-3) can still tie the Elks by winning their remaining D10 games. Elks have lost too many “unfairplay” points. If the teams tie in points, Centennial looks to have the tie breaker, more “unfairplay” points. Elk River’s final D10 game is in two weeks against Anoka.

Last week, Centennial added two more D10 wins beating Princeton 7-1 and St. Francis 10-0. The Cougars play Spring Lake Park and Andover in their final two D10 games. Both Centennial and Elk River play in the White Bear Tourney on the weekend. The Elks draw Duluth East, Eden Prairie, and Lakeville South in pool play. The Cougars draw Minnetonka, OMG, and Woodbury in pool play.

Blaine beat Spring Lake Park 3-1 and beat Irondale 4-2 last week in addition to losing to Elk River. The Bengals join Elk River and Centennial at White Bear Lake. They draw Edina, White Bear Lake and Winnipeg in pool play. After the tourney, they return to play Rogers in their last D10 game.

Champlin Park and Rogers are tied for fourth in D10. Champlin Park beat Coon Rapids 6-2 and lost to Anoka 5-1 last week. They played Centennial to end their season. Rogers beat St. Francis 7-0 and Irondale 2-1 besides losing to Elk River. Rogers end their D10 season with games against Coon Rapids, Princeton, and Blaine. Rogers can still catch Blaine by sweeping their last three games. They can’t catch Centennial or Elk River. Champlin Park plays Eagan in the opening round of the New Hope tourney this weekend.
Spring Lake Park had a busy week. The Panthers beat St. Francis 7-0, tied Princeton 4-4, beat Coon Rapids 5-1, lost to Irondale 2-1 and lost to Blaine 3-1. The Panthers play their last two D10 games this week (Centennial and Princeton). The loss to Irondale really hurt Spring Lake Park. Last week, Anoka beat Andover 4-0 and played St. Francis in addition to beating Champlin Park. The Tornadoes have three D10 games left, all at home, against Princeton, Coon Rapids, and Elk River. Anoka is looking good to overtake Spring Lake Park for the sixth seed to the D10 tourney.

Spring Lake Park, Princeton, and Andover all are in a battle for the last two seeds to the D10 playoffs. The Panthers can get to 42 points, but play two tough games. Princeton can beat the Panthers total, but need to win two of their remaining four games. If they get only one tie in the four games, they will move ahead of Andover. With three games remaining, Andover can get to 38 points. Spring Lake Park does hold the tie breaker with Andover, tying Andover 4-4 and beating Andover 3-1 in D10 play.

Princeton beat Irondale last week in addition to tying Spring Lake Park, losing to Centennial, and losing to Blaine. This week the Tigers play Anoka and Andover before finishing their D10 season against Rogers and Spring Lake Park. The big game in D10 this week is Spring Lake Park and Princeton. This game (the game ends the D10 season for both teams) could have the #7 seed to the D10 playoff seed going to the winner and the #8 seed going to the loser. But Andover could change that when they play Centennial the next day.

Andover beat St. Francis 8-1 and Coon Rapids 4-2 last week after losing to Anoka. This week, the Huskies play Irondale and Princeton and finish their D10 season against Centennial. Irondale had an outside chance to make the D10 playoffs, but the Knights are out of the playoffs. The Knights lost seven D10 games in a row before beating Spring Lake Park.

Spring Lake Park plays in the Cloquet tourney over the weekend. They draw Waconia, Mankato, and Coon Rapids in pool play. Coon Rapids plays Mankato and Cloquet in addition to the Panthers in the tourney. St. Francis plays in the Minneapolis Winter Storm tourney. They draw the Mpls Storm in the opening round of bracket play.

The seeds don’t change this week. Elk River keeps the #1 seed. Centennial’s gets the #2 seed and Blaine takes the #3 seed this week. Centennial has been improving, but the Cougars showed the same improvement at this time last year only to struggle in the playoffs. Rogers, Champlin Park, Anoka and Spring Lake Park look to be the challengers. Princeton remains in the middle of the mix.

District 11 - Cloquet and Hermantown played each other last week. The two teams are tied for first place in D11. Cloquet hosted Armstrong on the weekend in their only game. The Lumberjacks beat Armstrong 6-5. Hermantown lost to Armstrong 4-1 in their only game. White Bear Lake beat Duluth East 5-4 and Proctor beat Greenway 5-3. In the only other games involving D11 teams, the Duluth Lakers played Superior.

Cloquet holds a 12 team tourney this weekend. Cloquet has grouped the 12 teams into two six team pools. Each team plays three pool games and then are seeded into a single game on Sunday. The #1 seeds play for the Championship.

Three D11 teams (Cloquet, Hermantown, and Superior Wisconsin) are entered. Cloquet draws Apple Valley, Coon Rapids, and Waconia in pool play. Hermantown draws Greenway, the Thunder Bay Kings, and St. Cloud in their pool play. Superior Wisconsin draws the Thunder Bay Kings, Mankato, Sibley in their pool play.

The D11 playoffs are shaping up. #1 seed (either Cloquet or Hermantown) will play the winner of the #4 seed Duluth Lakers and #5 seed Proctor. The #2 seed (Cloquet or Hermantown) will play the #3 seed Duluth East.

Hermantown keeps the #1 seed, but will be tested at the Cloquet tourney this week. Cloquet take the #2 seed. The Lumberjacks still remain a mystery. They will be playing some tough teams two weekends from now when the take a quick tour of the cities before the D11 playoffs began.

West Regional (D3, D5, D6) - The West Regional is shaping up as follows:
In D3, Wayzata appears to have a lock on one seed. Crow River and Mpls Park are challenging OMG for the second seed.

In D5, St. Cloud continues playing perfectly and STMA continues playing well. MAML, Sartell, Buffalo, and River Lakes are tangling for the last seed. MAML continues to improve.

In D6, Eden Prairie beat Burnsville in a key match-up. The Blaze have two tough D6 games left and Edina has made their mover. Prior Lake beat Minnetonka twice and the Skippers lost a third game to drop out of contention for the two top spots. Prior Lake is hanging in there.

District 3 - The “soap opera” ended with a thud. There is no suspense in D3 after last week. After being pushed to their limit by Armstrong the week before, Wayzata strung three D3 wins together beating Mound Westonka 5-0, OMG 6-4, and Orono 7-0. The Trojans can call it “a wrap”. They lead their nearest competitor by 5 points with a single game to play this week against Hopkins. No other D3 team can catch the Trojans. The suspense is over. Like that plucky Rocket J. Squirrel, the brainy half of that dynamic duo of Rocky and Bullwinkle, the Trojans have swooped down and saved true heart Tess. She is now safe in Frostbite Falls, Mn, and Boris Badenov can’t get her (at least until next season).

By the way, rumor has it that Frostbite Falls is an alias for International Falls. But that story can wait tell next year.

Meanwhile, Wayzata is skipping the White Bear Tourney. They have a quiet week before heading to Moorhead to play the Moorhead Black in a Hockey Day in Minnesota game.
OMG has entered the White Bear Tourney. This will be the only tourney that OMG will play in without Wayzata being there. OMG draws Centennial, Minnetonka, and Woodbury in pool play. OMG had a tough week. Besides losing to Wayzata, they tied Orono 1-1. They have two D3 games remaining, Mound Westonka and Crow River. Crow River beat St. Louis Park 9-3 and the Mpls Storm 2-1 last week. Crow River has three games remaining. The Tigers play the Mpls Storm again, Armstrong and close out the D3 season against OMG. OMG may be in a Valentine’s Day battle with Crow River for second place.

The Storm’s loss to Crow River put a dent in their chances to overtake OMG. But it is a small dent if they can beat Crow River this week. It will put the Storm on track to tie OMG if both teams win their remaining games. The Mpls Storm beat Orono 7-1 last week.

The Storm has their tourney this week at the Parade Ice Gardens (the facility is too nice to abbreviate). They play St. Francis in the opening game. Shakopee/Buffalo meet in the other bracket game. In the lower bracket, Moundsview plays Northern Lakes and Rogers play the Rochester Gold.

Armstrong continues to improve. They took a quick trip (are gasoline stations road worthy?) north. They lost to Cloquet 6-5 and beat Hermantown 4-1. The Spartans could raise havoc with Crow River and the Mpls Storm by beating them in their last two games. It could also move Armstrong up in the standings.

Armstrong hosts their tourney in New Hope. They play Hastings in opening round of bracket play. Champlin Park plays Eagan in the other bracket game. Roseville plays Hopkins and Eastview plays MALM in the other bracket.

Orono started last week on an up note, tying OMG 1-1, but then lost to Wayzata and the Mpls Storm. This week the Spartans play Mound Westonka and then head north to play Hibbing and Proctor. Mound Westonka beat St. Louis Park 4-0 besides losing to Wayzata last week. The Whitehawks end their D3 season playing OMG.

St. Louis Park goes south and west this week, playing Hutchinson and Northfield. Hopkins goes a few miles north to play in the New Hope tourney. The Royals draw Roseville in the opening round of bracket play.

Wayzata keeps the #1 seed. The loss of the “unfairplay” points didn’t slow the Trojans march to the D3 title. Crow River beat the Storm and gets the #2 seed. OMG and Armstrong are playing well. Too bad this year D3 gets only two seeds to the West. The fight for the #2 seed will be fierce.

District 5 - St. Cloud beat Sartell 6-2 and beat Willmar 7-1 last week. The Huskies remain perfect after playing 14 D5 games. They head to Cloquet to play in the Lumberjacks tourney. The Huskies play Sibley, Superior, and Hermantown in pool play. They return to play Hutchinson.

STMA had a good trip “up north” last weekend. They traveled to Warroad to play in Warroad’s tourney. The Knights beat Thief River Falls along the way 3-2. At Warroad, STMA beat the Fargo Angels 5-2 and Warroad 12-0 to win their pool. STMA won the championship on goal differential by beating Devils Lake North Dakota 9-2 and losing to Roseau 3-2.

STMA returns to D5 action this week in a battle with St. Cloud for first place. St. Cloud has four games left and STMA has three games left. St. Cloud holds a three point lead over the Knights. The two teams meet again, but not this week. St. Cloud plays a single game against Hutchinson and STMA plays a single game against River Lakes this week. St. Cloud ends their season next week with games against Sauk Rapids, STMA, and River Lakes. The Knights end their D5 against Buffalo.

MAML strung three D5 wins together beating Willmar 6-2, Litchfield 4-3, River Lakes 2-1. They also played Sartell. Those wins moved the Moose into third place. The Moose play Buffalo in their only D5 game this week. They are playing in the New Hope tourney this week. They play Eastview in the opening game of bracket play.
Besides playing MAML and losing to St. Cloud, Sartell beat Hutchinson 4-2 in D5 last week. The Sabres travel west on Interstate 94 to Alexandria to play in what amounts to a North Dakota State Tourney preview. They play the #1 ranked North Dakota team, Grand Forks Greyhounds, in the opening game of bracket play.

Buffalo beat River Lakes 5-3 in their only D5 game last week. The Bison play Sauk Rapids in D5 this week and then play in the Minneapolis Storm tourney at Parade this weekend. They draw Shakopee in the opening round of bracket play. River Lakes lost to Buffalo and MAML last week. The Stars play three D5 games this week (STMA, Hutchinson, and Sauk Rapids).

Willmar had a good week beating Sartell 4-3 and Hutchinson 5-2 besides losing to MAML and St. Cloud. They have their tourney this weekend, a round robin tourney with Detroit Lakes, Fargo Flyer Black, and Owatonna entered. The Fargo Flyer Black are currently 2-9 in the North Dakota Peewee A South League.

Sauk Rapids played at Red Wing last week in the Winger’s tourney. The Storm had a good tourney beating Faribault in opening round of bracket play and beating Red Wing in the semifinals before losing to Mason City Iowa in the championship game. Sauk Rapids has two D5 games this week, Buffalo and River Lakes.

St. Cloud takes the #1 seed; STMA takes the #2 seed; and the Moose (MALM) keeps the #3 seed.

District 6 - Burnsville and Eden Prairie clashed last Sunday in a key D6 game. The Eagles won in a tense affair where both coaches and their teams pulled out all their tricks. Eden Prairie started an outstanding goalie who contained the fiery Blaze in the first period. With the Blaze trailing 1-0 and still trying to solve the Eagles goalie, the Blaze caught a break when a puck went vertical about 20 feet in the air in front of the crease. With the Eagle goalie scrambling and choosing to look right, the puck hit the ice in left side of the crease in front of a Blaze forward who banged it in to tie the score.

The third period started with the Blaze on the power play and they dusted off an old trick. After getting the power play established in the Eagles zone, two Blaze wingers crossed behind the Eagle’s net. The one carrying the puck left it for the other forward and went on to play a wrap around attempt. The Eagles goalie went for the fake and the other Blaze winger had an easy goal to give the Blaze a 2-1 lead.

The Eagles looked beat over the next few minutes and it seemed almost out desperation that the Eden Prairie coach skipped sending his best playing line out on the ice. Instead he sent a line that had been struggling to take the faceoff in the Eagles zone to play against a Burnsville line that had been playing well. It looked as if the coach had picked this moment to gamble that he could hold the Blaze in check and bring back his best line to his advantage.

Maybe he knew something else, because 30 seconds later, a forward top shelved the puck past the Blaze goalie to tie the score. Then he brought out the big line. They dominated play in the Burnsville zone for the next two minutes and didn’t score. Over the next few minutes, the sequence of lines did not change, setting up another mismatch for the Eagles. The line scored again to give the Eagles a 3-2 lead. They added an empty netter to make it a 4-2 game. It was one of the more interesting games of the season.

Burnsville still controls their destiny. The Blaze have three games left (Kennedy, Edina, and Prior Lake) and can get 48 points with a sweep. The Eagles have two games left (Chaska and Edina) and can get 47 points with a sweep. The Blaze play no D6 games this week.

Eden Prairie plays at White Bear Lake on the weekend. The Eagles draw Duluth East, Elk River and Lakeville South in pool play. They return to play Chaska.

Last week Edina was set to make their move in D6. The Hornets did. They beat Kennedy 6-0, Jefferson 10-0, and Waconia 12-0. With three games left, the Hornets can get 46 points. They have three tough games to play Minnetonka, Burnsville, and Eden Prairie. Beating Burnsville will not be enough. If the Hornets and Blaze tie at 46 points, head to head would be used in the tie breaker (head to head includes “unfairplay” play points). With the teams splitting their two games, the “unfairplay” will be used to break the tie and that would appear to favor the Blaze who have yet to lose an “unfairplay” point.

Edina plays in the White Bear tourney on the weekend. They draw Blaine, White Bear Lake, and Winnipeg in pool play.

Last week, Minnetonka beat Waconia 6-2 in D6 action, but then took a second loss to Prior Lake 6-1 in the last two weeks. That leaves the Skippers with two D6 games left, Edina and Jefferson. The best Minnetonka can do is to hit the 43 point mark and that will likely fall short of the total needed to take the D6 championship or second place and their associated first round byes. The Skippers play at White Bear, they draw Centennial, OMG, and Woodbury in pool play.

Prior Lake can make a move this week. They play Shakopee and Jefferson. Next week the Lakers end their season playing Waconia and Burnsville. With a sweep, they would end up with 43 points and need help to make the top two. With Edina, Burnsville and Eden Prairie playing each other, it could happen and the Lakers could eke out a first or second place finish. Prior Lake have been playing well and have won their last 9 games.

Shakopee beat Jefferson 4-1 last week and then went on to take third place in the Red Wing tourney. They beat Tartan 4-2, lost to Mason City Iowa 3-2 in overtime, and beat Red Wing 11-0 for third place. They also played Chaska last week. This week, the Sabres play Prior Lake and then play in the Winter Strom tourney at Parade. They draw Buffalo in the opening game of bracket play. Jefferson plays Prior Lake this week.

Waconia travels to Cloquet to play in their tourney. They draw Spring Lake Park, Apple Valley, and Cloquet in pool play. Besides losing to Minnetonka 6-2 last week, Waconia beat Chaska 5-4. Kennedy had a tough week last week losing to Edina 9-0 and to Prior Lake 6-1 in D6 play. This week, the Eagles head to Alexandria to play one of the top ranked North Dakota teams, the Bismarck Admirals, in opening round of bracket play.

Chaska played Shakopee last week in D6. This week they play Eden Prairie. The Hawks play Jefferson and Kennedy in the last week of the season. One of the hardest things to understand this year is the Chaska Hawks. They have tied Roseau, beaten Lakeville South, beaten STMA, tied Bemidji, beaten Woodbury, and beaten Lakeville North. Their D6 record is a bottom dwelling 2-12 with four games left. The Hawks are a puzzle. They certainly have put themselves in a playoff hole. They have been a good playoff team and they will need that to advance.

D6 continues to be in turmoil. Eden Prairie beat Burnsville so that give the Eagles the #1 seed this week. Edina looks strong for a period against Eden Prairie, tying the Eagles two weeks ago. But Prior Lake is doing their thing (while winning 9 straight). The Lakers take the #2 seed. Edina takes the #3 seed. And even after losing to Eden Prairie, Burnsville remains the slight favorite to take the D6 title. This analysis should make everything perfectly clear.