Friday, January 28, 2011

Another Way to Look at PeeWee A Hockey - Jan. 28

By frederick61

How valuable to the high schools are the associations in their area; or do the high school boards have a bigger impact? Outstate, it is easy to draw a comparison between high schools and associations. In smaller communities such as an Alexandria or a Virginia, it is an easy correlation. As your Bantams go, so go your high school a few years later. But it is not so certain in the Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester or St. Cloud. The associations in these communities often support more than one high school.

The top teams in Minnesota high school this year are Edina, Eagan, Wayzata and Duluth East. In December 2007, Edina had a Bantam A tourney that these high school team’s associations had entered. The kids playing on the Bantam teams in that tourney are now mostly seniors and a few juniors. They are playing high school hockey.

This is not about who won or lost the 2007 tourney, but about rosters. It is a snapshot on Minnesota association hockey. Edina, Eagan, Wayzata and Duluth East high schools each have rosters with 12-14 of their association’s Bantam A players from that tourney. Most of the 12-14 Bantam A players on their high school roster have the bulk of the playing time and are scoring the majority of goals.

Centennial and Champlin Park also played in that Bantam A tourney. Centennial High School has 15 Bantam A players and Champlin Park has 10 Bantam A players on their roster. Centennial High School lost to Duluth East and Wayzata twice early in the season, but have won their last six games. Champlin Park is struggling.

St. Cloud’s Bantam team played in that tourney. Ten bantam A players ended up on the St. Cloud Tech roster. St. Cloud Tech is currently leading the Central Lakes Conference. St. Cloud Apollo is last in the Central Lakes Conference. They ended up with one player off the St. Cloud Bantam A team, the goalie.

Rochester played in the Edina tourney. Four of the Rochester Bantam A players ended up at John Marshall, four at Lourdes and three at Century. They are the top scorers for their respective teams and get the most playing time. Mayo has none of the Rochester Bantam A players from that Edina tourney. All three Rochester high teams (John Marshall, Mayo and Century) are in a fight with Mankato West, Albert Lea and Faribault for the Big 9 Conference title, teams they dominated as PeeWees and Bantams. All three teams play in Section 1AA and in one sectional ranking, all three trail the two Lakeville teams and are in a virtual tie with Dodge County and Farmington.

If the dividing line between association responsibility in developing youth hockey for their high schools sort of ends when a kid moves up from the Bantam A level to high school, what does this exercise between the Bantam A teams and the high school teams lead one to conclude?

The first conclusion is that if a high school can keep a core of 12 players or so from the Bantam teams over the years, they will likely be more successful. The second conclusion is that a core of 12 players or so is more valuable than fewer individual “star quality” players for the high schools. That implies that role playing among the 12 players is an important to team success than out right individual talent at the high school level.

Edina, Eagan, Duluth East and Wayzata have one association and one high school. That leads to another easy conclusion. If you have a single Bantam A team and try to support more than one high school, the high schools are less competitive.

But this is not about Bantam A or high school hockey. This blog is about PeeWee A hockey. Why discuss all that here?

The reason is the tourney in December 2007 was the last “class of hockey players” that didn’t operate under new high school transfer guidelines choreographed between the Minnesota State High School League’s “New Transfer Bylaw” and Minnesota Department of Education’s Open Enrollment policy.

Next year’s senior/junior classes will have been operating under those policies that forces PeeWee kids and parents to make decisions on which high school to attend prematurely. The policies act as a one-two punch. The first punch, the Open Enrollment Policy, is sneaky. A 13/14 year old kid has to decide by January 15 of his eighth-grade year what high school he is going to attend. After January 15, the kid can be denied a transfer for failing to submit the transfer by January 15. Remember, in January of his eighth grade is the only day in a kid’s life that he can transfer without facing a penalty for the rest of his high school career. Usually, in January of a kid’s eighth grade, the kid and the parents are involved in their kid’s hockey and other activities.

The second punch is once the January 15 deadline is passed, you can transfer schools, but the MSHSL “New Transfer Bylaw” penalizes all transfer students by stating none can play sports at his new school for one year. These policies work based on no action by the kid or parents and verges on being illegal. It would be akin to a college claiming because you go to school in its area, you automatically must play sports at their college (at their discretion) even though you have signed no document declaring intent. And that if you decide after some magic date to play for another college, you will be penalized.

If you are parent of an eighth-grade kid and want him to play at a school other than the one he is attending this year, you needed to submit paperwork by January 15 (two weeks ago). If you didn’t, your kid will lose a year of eligibility if he or she transfers.

Minnesota Hockey, after a false start last year, appears to have done the right thing for the kids. Kids playing Bantam and PeeWee association hockey can play where they live or where they go to school. That lets the kid mature, but the two education-based boards who are supposed to be experts in kids, force immature kids to make a premature decision on which high school to attend based on hockey.

North Regional (D12, D15, D16) - The North had three PeeWee A tourneys last week. Roseau had a 16-team tourney, Eveleth had an eight-team Mariucci Tourney and Virginia had an eight-team Queen City tourney.

Roseau’s tourney pitted top teams from D2, D3, D6, D8, D11, D15 and D16. The Fargo Flyer Gold was also entered Edina walked away with the tourney, sweeping pool play and beating Eden Prairie 5-1 in the semifinals and Wayzata 6-1 in the finals. Mahtomedi won the Mariucci, beatign Hibbing 4-3 in the finals. At the Queen City, the Duluth Lakers played West Fargo for the title.

Grand Rapids looks to be the strongest candidate in D12, and D15 remains the domain of Moorhead. But four D16 teams (Bemidji, Roseau, Thief River Falls and East Grand Forks) are all challengers for the three D16 seeds. As kids develop, especially at the PeeWee age, team strengths change from the start of the season to the end. With the end approaching, the playing field is being leveled.

District 12 - Grand Rapids had a tough Roseau tourney. The Thunderhawks lost to Moorhead 3-1, beat Stillwater 7-5 and lost to Edina 11-2 in pool play. On Sunday, Rapids lost to Woodbury 5-3. This week, they hit the road, playing Bemidji and in two D12 games, Hibbing and Mesabi East.

Hibbing took second place at the Mariucci. The Bluejackets beat Hutchinson 3-0, Superior 3-1 and lost to Mahtomedi 4-3 in the championship game. Hibbing plays Virginia, in addition to hosting Grand Rapids this week.

Virginia beat D12 rival Greenway in another northern donnybrook, 9-6 in the opening game of their tourney. The Blue Devils lost to West Fargo in the semifinals and lost to Proctor 5-0 in the third place game. Greenway lost to Northfield 4-1 in the consolation semifinals and played Northern Lakes for seventh place. Virginia plays International Falls besides Hibbing this week. Greenway plays Proctor.

Mesabi East plays International Falls and Eveleth this week besides entertaining Grand Rapids. The Giants played in the Fergus Falls tourney last week. They beat Grafton/Park River 9-5, lost to the Sioux Falls Blue 4-3 and lost to Litchfield 3-2 in the third place game.

International Falls played at the Mariucci The Broncos lost their opening game to Highland, beat Eveleth 11-2 and lost the consolation title to Orono 6-5 in overtime. Three days later, Orono tied top rated OMG 1-1.

Grand Rapids keeps the #1 seed to the North Regional this week and Hibbing takes the #2 seed.

District 15 - Moorhead Black opened with a nice 3-1 win over Grand Rapids in pool play on the weekend at Roseau, but then the Black ran into a buzzsaw in the Hornets from Edina and lost 9-0. That loss knocked the Black out of the tourney. They completed pool play losing to Stillwater 4-3 in an overtime/shootout game and losing to OMG 5-2 on Sunday. The Black will host Bemidji and play at Brainerd this week.

After playing well the past few weeks, Moorhead Orange lost a tough D15 game to Alexandria 7-2. With few D15 games to go, that loss keeps the Orange in last place in D15 and improves on the odds that the Orange will play the Black in the opening game of the D15 playoffs. The Orange steps outside D15 this week to play the Grand Forks Golden Eagles, Red Lake Falls and Bismarck.

Fergus Falls hosted and won their tourney last weekend. The Otters beat Luverne 7-4, Litchfield 7-3 and the Sioux Falls Blue 9-2. Fergus Falls lost to Alexandria 5-4 before their tourney. After winning their tourney, the Otters lost to Alexandria again 4-2. This week, Fergus Falls plays Brainerd and Northern Lakes.

Alex's two wins over Fergus Falls and their victory over Moorhead Orange last week put the Cardinals in second place behind Moorhead Black. The Cardinals play Detroit Lakes and Northern Lakes this week.

Brainerd had a tough time at Roseau. The Warriors lost to Thief River Falls 8-5, Chaska 6-1, Woodbury 13-0 and Roseau 8-1. Brainerd hosts Moorhead Black and Fergus Falls this weekend.

Detroit Lakes played Little Falls last week. The Lakers complete their D5 season this week playing Little Falls, Alexandria and Moorhead Orange. Little Falls has only the single game with the Lakers this week. Northern Lakes played in the Virginia tourney. They lost to the Duluth Lakers, Grand Forks Golden Eagles and Greenway.

Moorhead Black takes the #1 seed this week. Alexandria beat Fergus Falls twice last week. The Cardinals keep their #2 seed.

District 16 - January 30 seems to decision day in a number of districts. It seems most of the top teams within a district have chosen to play each other on that day this season. D16 is one of those districts. Thief River Falls plays Bemidji at Bemidji on January 30. The Prowlers need the win. They are 7-1-1 to the Lumberjacks 7-1 in D16 play. But they have lost four “unfair play” points. A loss to the Lumberjacks will make Bemidji a heavy favorite to take the D16 regular season title. The Lumberjacks beat Crookston 4-1 last week. The Prowlers lost a key D16 game to Roseau 4-1 and lost to OMG 4-3 prior to the Roseau tourney. They host STMA and Detroit Lakes this weekend before traveling to Bemidji on Sunday.

Thief River Falls had a great Roseau tourney. They won their pool, beating Woodbury 5-4, Chaska 7-4 and Brainerd 8-5. The Prowlers lost to Wayzata 5-4 in the championship semifinal game and lost to Eden Prairie 11-1 in the third-place game.

East Grand Forks and Warroad played in the Roseau tourney and ended up in the same pool. The Green Wave lost to Wayzata 9-1 and Lakeville South 3-2, and beat Warroad in pool play. On Sunday, the Green Wave beat Chaska 5-3. Warroad lost to Wayzata 10-0, Lakeville South 8-0 and Stillwater 11-0 in their tourney games. The Green Wave plays Crookston and the Fargo Flyer Gold team this week.

Warroad has their tourney this week. Teams entered include Roseau, STMA, the Fargo Angels, Grand Forks Seawolves, Devils Lake North Dakota, Mordon, BP Royals and the Fargo Raiders. The BP in the BP Royals stands for Boston Pizza. The team is from Fort Frances across the border from International Falls. Two weeks ago, the BP Royals won their home tourney. They beat Thunder Bay Elks 8-2, Sioux Lookout Junior Flyers 6-1 and International Falls 6-0 in pool play. In the Championship Round, the Royals beat Thunder Bay Elks again 5-0 in the semifinals and the Dryden Paper Kings 4-3 in the championship game.

Roseau’s best game was beating TRF early in the week. And the Rams played well in their own tourney. They beat the Fargo Flyer Gold 8-2, lost to Eden Prairie 6-5 and lost to OMG 8-5. They beat Brainerd 8-1 on Sunday. The Rams play in the Warroad tourney this week.

Crookston has a busy week. The Pirates play East Grand Forks and Red Lake Falls this week in D16 games. They also play Fergus Falls and the Grand Forks Greyhounds. Besides losing to Bemidji last week, the Pirates lost to Detroit Lakes.

Bemidji moved to the top of the D16 standings and is the clear favorite to take the regular season title. TRF had a good Roseau tourney, making it to the championship round on Sunday, but lost to Roseau two days before the tourney started. Still, Bemidji keeps the #1 seed. Roseau moves to the #2 seed and TRF the #3 seed. The game Sunday between Bemidji/TRF should be one great game and will sort out who is on top. Roseau has improved and the Warroad tourney should prove interesting to the Rams. East Grand Forks has improved. With only three seeds available, something has to give.

South Regional (D4, D8, D9) - Nothing has changed in this regional this week. With the regular season ending and district playoffs approaching, all districts have released their playoff format. D4 will have a round robin tourney for its single seed. It will be played in Windom. Luverne is favored to take the seed.

D8 has all 12 teams entered in the playoffs at Hastings. The first round games (four games) are single elimination. Farmington, Rosemount and Woodbury are favored. Lakeville South has a shot. They play Rosemount twice this week. Lakeville North has a short bench (11 forwards in their last game). Hastings, IGH and Sibley have improved and are playing well. One of these teams will have a shot at the regions by finishing fourth in the D8 playoffs.

D9 will have an eight-team double elimination tourney with the top four teams from the East playing the top four teams from the West. The tourney will be held in Mankato. Mankato, Owatonna and Northfield are favored. New Ulm, Albert Lea, Rochester Black and Gold and Dodge County all have a shot at the regions by finishing fourth in the D8 playoffs.

D9 playoffs will start Thursday, February 17 and will finish the following Sunday, February 20. D8 playoffs will begin Sunday, February 20 and will finish Sunday, February 27. 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 p.m., on February 27. The site of the play-in game is unknown.

District 4 - Luverne plays Austin and Mankato this week to end their D9 season as “guests.” They lead the league with 31 points going into those games and should set the standard for the D9 West at 35 points (minimum). Mankato is the only D9 West team chasing the Cardinals. The Mavericks played New Ulm last week and play New Ulm again in a D9 game this week besides playing Luverne. The Mavericks close their D9 season in two weeks against Faribault. If Mankato wins all their remaining games, they will end the season with 38 points. If Luverne beats Mankato this week, they will end the season with 38 points to the Mavericks' 37 points and win the league. The Luverne/Mankato game will be played this Sunday, January 30, at the All Seasons Arena in Mankato.

Luverne won the Consolation title in the Fergus Falls tourney this week. The Cardinals lost to Fergus Falls 7-4 in the opener, beat two North Dakota teams, the Fargo Flyers Black 11-0 and Grafton/Park River 6-5 in the consolation championship game.

Marshall went for a short drive to play in the Watertown South Dakota PeeWee A Jamboree last weekend. The Tigers played two South Dakota teams, Watertown and Mitchell, and one North Dakota team, Dickinson. Marshall plays Sioux Falls Blue and Litchfield this week.

Redwood Falls plays Buffalo and Luverne this week. The D4 playoff will be a three-team round robin format and will be played in Windom on February 19 and 20. The top team takes the #1 D4 seed to the South Regional in Rochester. Luverne looks to be the best in D4 this year and keeps the #1 seed this week.

District 8 - Famington returned to D8 action last week and beat Johnson/Como 7-0, Eagan 8-1, Lakeville North 5-1 and Lakeville South. Lakeville North put only 11 forwards on the ice against the Tigers and tired against the relentless Farmington attack. The first period of the Lakeville South game was as good as hockey can be at the PeeWee level. A well-skated period by both teams ended in a 1-1 tie. But the roof fell on the Cougars in the last two periods as they tired. The Tigers remain unbeaten in D8 play and on course for their February 12 showdown with Rosemount. This week, the Tigers play Hastings and Sibley in D8 games.

Rosemount beat Eastview 6-0 last week to remain unbeaten in D8. This week, the Irish play a home-and-home series with Lakeville South and play Apple Valley in D8 games.

Woodbury and Lakeville South carried the D8 flag into Roseau. Woodbury was surprised by Chaska 3-2 and Thief River Falls 5-4 in their first two games of pool play. The Predators rallied to beat Brainerd 13-0 and Grand Rapids 5-3 in their last two tourney games. Lakeville South lost their opening game of pool play to Wayzata 6-1. Despite winning their last three games (Warroad 8-0, East Grand Forks 3-2 and Fargo Flyers Gold 7-2), the Wayzata loss knocked the Cougars out of the tourney. Woodbury beat IGH/SSP in a D8 game upon their return home after the Roseau tourney. The Predators play Hastings twice this week. Lakeville South has a tough week, playing Rosemount twice in D8 games.

Lakeville North and Hastings started their seasons late, selecting their teams the last week of October. Last week, Hastings beat Lakeville North 5-4 and Johnson/Como 8-2. Besides playing Woodbury twice, the Raiders play Eagan and Farmington this week. Hastings’ win over the Panthers puts them on a course to tangle with Lakeville South and Woodbury for one of the top four seeds in D8 and an automatic entry into the double elimination round of the D8 tourney.

Inver Grove Heights/South St. Paul had a good home tourney. The Spartans/Packers beat Forest Lake 8-3 in the opening round of bracket play, lost to Crow River 5-2 and beat Hudson 4-3 in the third-place game. They play Eastview this week. Sibley played in IGH/SSP’s tourney last week and came close. They lost to Hudson 3-2 in an overtime shootout game, lost to Andover 8-7 in an overtime shootout game and beat Forest Lake 3-1. The Generals play Johnson/Como and Farmington in D8 games this week. Eastview plays IGH/SSP and Eagan this week. The Lightning will have one D8 left after this week against Hastings.

Hastings hosts the D8 playoffs beginning in three weeks from now. The teams seeded #5 to #12 play a single elimination game with the top four seeds, joining the winners in an eight-team double elimination tourney vying for three regional seeds and for a potential fourth seed via a play-in game with the fourth seeded D9 team.

Apple Valley beat Johnson/Como 4-3 last week in a key match-up for both teams. That Eagles win, combined with a tie with Eagan the week before, puts Apple Valley and Eagan on course for tie settling game Feb. 13. At stake is the #10 seed in the D8 playoffs. The #10 seed plays the #7 seed in a single elimination game. The most likely #7 seed would be Valley’s arch rival Eastview. The #11 seed would play the #6 seed and Hastings has the edge to take the #6 seed. Both the Eagan and Valley have two other D9 games remaining besides playing each other.

J/C’s loss to Apple Valley really hurt. The Devils trail Valley by two points and Eagan by one point. Unfortunately, J/C has two tough D8 games remaining. This week the Devils play Sibley. They end their D8 season playing Farmington. The #12 seed likely gives them one of the Lakeville teams in the single elimination game. If they make it to the double elimination, they would play either Rosemount or Farmington. Still, J/C has proven tough at times this season.

Farmington and Rosemount keep on winning in D8. As a result, Farmington keeps the #1 seed this week. Rosemount keeps the #2 seed. Woodbury never got going and Lakeville South played well after dropping their opening game to Wayzata. Still Woodbury owns a 5-0 win over the South just before the Roseau tourney. The Predators take the #3 seed. Lakeville South takes the #4 seed and the right to play in the play-in game.

District 9 - Luverne and Mankato are the last two teams contending for the D9 West Championship. These two teams will play each other this Sunday in Mankato with the winner likely to take the title. Owatonna was contending, but the Huskies can’t make up for the two loses to Luverne and the loss of three “unfair play” points. Owatonna has just two D9 games left. All Luverne has to do is save their “unfair play” points in their last two games and they knock Owatonna out of the race.

Mankato is busy week this week playing Hutchinson and Northfield and two D9 games (Luverne and New Ulm). Last week the Mavericks beat Rochester Black 13-2 and Rochester Red 4-2, and played New Ulm. After this week, Mankato has a single game left with Faribault.

The tournament format is out and the top four teams in the West and the top four teams in the East make the D9 playoffs. Faribault and Albert Lea are in a battle for the fourth seed in the West. Faribault has three tough games left (Northfield, Owatonna and Mankato). Albert Lea has a single game with Dodge County left to play but hold a four-point advantage. If Albert Lea loses to Dodge County, Faribault needs to win six of its remaining nine points to make the playoffs. Albert Lea holds the tiebreaker. If Albert Lea wins, Faribault needs to win all three games.

Mankato should overtake Owatonna in the standings to gain the #1 seed in the West; Owatonna would take the #2 seed and New Ulm the #3 seed into the D9 playoffs.

In the East, Northfield has locked up the D9 East Championship and the #1 East seed. But there is a donnybrook for the remaining three seeds. Austin is currently last in the East with three games left on their schedule and can’t catch Dodge County, the fourth place team. It is a shame, because the Packers have been playing well the last month and beat Dodge County 4-2 last week.

Fifth-place Red Wing is one of three East Division teams that played .500 hockey in their division this year; but the Wingers have lost 6 “unfairplay” points in 13 games and will not make the D9 playoffs. That leaves Rochester Black, Rochester Gold and Dodge County contending for seeds 2, 3 and 4. The Black have one game remaining in D9, Dodge County. Rochester Gold has two games remaining (Austin and Owatonna). If the Black beats Dodge County, the Gold needs to win both games. If Dodge County beats the Black, the Gold can take second with four points in their last two games. If Dodge wins all three remaining games, they take second.

The most likely scenario gives the Gold the #2 seed, the Black the #3 seed and Dodge the #4 seed. The D9 playoff draw in the opening round would then be Northfield/Albert Lea, Owatonna/Rochester Black in one bracket; Mankato/Dodge County, Rochester Gold/New Ulm in the other bracket.

Red Wing has their tourney this weekend. They open against D9 Rival Albert Lea. Faribault plays Sauk Rapids in the other bracket game. Shakopee plays Tartan and Mason City plays Rocester Black in the opening round games.

Northfield took the Viginia Queen City Consolation title last weekend. The Raiders lost to West Fargo 3-0 in the opening game, and beat Greenway 4-1 and Grand Forks Golden Eagles 4-1. They beat Austin 10-1 before leaving for Virginia. The Raiders have a busy week playing Owatonna, Mankato, Dodge County and Faribault.

Rochester Black play in Red Wing’s tourney this week. They open bracket play against Mason City. The Gold beat Red Wing 8-4 last week. This week they play Austin and Owatonna to end their D9 season. Rochester Red plays Centennial, White Bear Lake and Stillwater this week. Last week, the Red played Duluth East twice, winning 4-2 and losing 7-1, besides losing to Mankato. Dodge County has a single D9 key game with Northfield this week.

Mankato keeps the #1 seed this week and Owatonna takes the #2 seed. Northfield takes the #3 seed. D9 regular season is winding down, the playoffs are in sight.

East Regional (D2, D10, D11) - Cloquet and Duluth East were “down South” this week. Cloquet tied Mounds View 2-2, lost to Roseville 4-2 and beat Blaine 6-4. Duluth East split two games with Rochester Red and played Centennial.

A clearer picture has emerged in the East. D2 has a double elimination playoff. All eight D2 teams are entered. But only Roseville is a clear favorite to make the East Regional. Stillwater is starting to struggle. In a game late last week, Stillwater needed help from the refs to beat a stubborn Mounds View team 2-1. After Roseville in D2, it is a coin flip.

In D10, four teams will not make the D10 playoffs. St. Francis and Coon Rapids are out of the playoffs. Andover and Irondale are on the verge of elimination. Elk River is the only clear favorite in D10 at this time. In D11, all five teams will have a shot at one of the two seeds. Best guess is that the seeds will go two of these three teams, Cloquet, Hermantown and Duluth East.

What is clear in the East is that few teams are out of the running. That uncertainty places an added emphasis on how teams finish in their regular season district standings. The standings will determine the seeds to the playoffs.

District 2 - Roseville beat Cloquet 4-2 in their only D2 game last week. This week, Roseville plays Mahtomedi and Stillwater in D2 action. A win over the Ponies will just about lock up the D2 title for Roseville and the #1 seed to the D2 playoffs.

Stillwater ran into a Hornets nest at Roseau, losing to Edina 5-1 in the opening game of pool play. The Ponies lost their next pool game to Grand Rapids 7-5. They beat Moorhead 4-3 and Warroad 11-0 in their final two tourney games.

Stillwater beat Mounds View 2-1 when they returned. Poor officiating played a role in the Ponies win. The Mustangs were leading 1-0 with less than two minutes remaining. The refs called two successive penalties on the Mustangs that resulted in the Ponies scoring a 5-on-3 goal and a 5-on-4 goal. The second penalty was called on the Mounds View player for interfering with a Pony who was camped inside the Mounds View crease watching a puck being contended in the corner.

The Mustangs had two checking from behinds called on them. One of the penalties came after very little contact along the boards with the ref making the call out of position (the other ref who was in position did not call a penalty). The same refs watched a Pony check a Mustang hard from behind, accelerating the kid into the board on the ice, resulting in a violent collision with the boards. They did not blow a whistle. Finally, the Mustang starting center was kicked out of the game (too many penalties on him?) after a penalty call that was very strange late in the game. The Mustangs lost their “unfair play” point. Stillwater didn’t. The Mustangs played good hockey and were out to only win the game. Stillwater looked tired.

Hudson played in the IGH/SSP tourney over the weekend. The Raiders beat Sibley 3-2 in an overtime/shootout game, lost a tough game to Prior Lake 4-3 and lost the third-place game to IGH/SSP 4-3. Hudson plays Forest Lake and Mounds View in D2 games this week.

Tartan has not reported their scores, but if the estimate is right, the Tartans have enough points (24 depending on “unfair play” points) to be knotted in second with Hudson and Stillwater. The Raiders from Hudson, Roseville, Tartan and Stillwater all play each other in the last two weeks of the season. But if Roseville wins this week, it may not matter.

Forest Lake had a tough week. After losing to Roseville 3-1 in a key D2 game, the Rangers played in the IGH/SSP tourney and lost all three games. They lost their opener to IGH/SSP 8-3, lost a tough game to Princeton 1-0 and lost to Sibley 3-1. The Rangers ran into four tough teams last week.

Mounds View tied Cloquet 2-2 and before losing to Stillwater last week. They are an improving team with size and strength. The Mustangs play Highland in addition to Hudson this week. Highland played in the Mariucci Tourney over the weekend in Eveleth. They beat International Falls, lost to Mahtomedi and played Superior for third place.

Tartan and White Bear Lake played their two D2 games against each other last week. Tartan tied the Bears 2-2 and the Bears beat the Titans 4-1. Tartan plays in the Red Wing tourney this weekend. They draw Shakopee in the opening round. White Bear Lake plays Rochester Red and Duluth East this week, before opening their Moose Goheen tourney.

Mahtomedi won the Mariucci Tourney in Eveleth over the weekend. They beat Eveleth 9-0, Highland and Hibbing 4-3 in the championship game. They returned to play White Bear Lake last week.

Roseville keeps the #1 seed and Stillwater keeps the #2 seed this week. Forest Lake struggled at IGH/SSP tourney. Mounds View has been playing well and Mahtomedi won the Mariucci. The Zephyrs take the #3 seed. Highland, White Bear Lake and Tartan are in the running. If they would report their games, Tartan is actually in second place in D2.

The D2 playoff draw is shaping up. The first-round matchups could be something like this: #1 Roseville/#8 Highland, #4 Mounds View/#5 White Bear Lake, #2 Tartan/#7 Mahtomedi and #3 Stillwater/#6 Forest Lake. But with each team having three to four games left, the opening draw is anybody’s guess. As said last week, when the first-place team can be beaten by the eighth-place team, you know the D2 playoffs will be tough.

District 10 - Elk River added two more D10 wins to their league record, beating Champlin Park 4-2 and Irondale 8-1. The Elks have three D10 games left, Blaine, Rogers and Anoka. If they win all nine points, the Elks will finish the D10 season with 58 points. Blaine trails and needs to beat Elk River to have a shot at the D10 title. The two teams meet this Saturday at Fogerty. Elk River also plays Rogers on the weekend in another key D10 game.

Rogers is poised to make a move up this week in D10. They play four games (St. Francis, Irondale, Elk River and Coon Rapids). They can’t catch the Elks, but they can take the coveted second or third place in the D10 standings and the associated #2 or #3 seed to the D10 playoffs. If either Rogers or Blaine can beat the Elks, they will likely finish second or third. Rogers tied Lakeville North 5-5, lost to Spring Lake Park 4-1 and beat Anoka 3-2 last week.

Blaine plays Irondale in addition to Elk River this week. Blaine played the “four C’s” last week. The Bengals beat Coon Rapids 7-2, lost to Cloquet 6-4, lost to Centennial 2-1 and beat Champlin Park 3-1. That gives the Bengals a “C” grade for last week. Ironic, isn’t it?

Blaine plays Irondale and Spring Lake Park in addition to Elk River this week. Champlin Park had a tough week. Besides losing to Elk River and Blaine, the Rebels tied Andover 2-2 and lost to Centennial 5-2.

The Rochester tourney two weeks ago set the battle for Centennial and Champlin Park this week. At Rochester, Centennial beat the Rebels 4-1 and 5-3. Last week, the two teams met in the first of two key D10 games. Centennial won again, beating Champlin Park 5-2. The Cougars, with that win, overtook the Rebels for third in the D10 standings.

Centennial can now set its sights on second-place Blaine. They trail the Bengals by a point. Centennial has three D10 games this week, St. Francis, Princeton and Champlin Park. In 11 days, the Cougars will have played nine games (Champlin Park, Rochester Red, St. Francis, Princeton, Wayzata, Champlin Park, Minnetonka, Woodbury and OMG). If Centennial makes it to Championship Sunday at White Bear, the Cougars will play two more games, making it 11 games in 12 days. My guess is the kids will love it, but the coaches may not.

Champlin Park plays three D10 games this week. Besides the second game with Centennial, they play Coon Rapids and Anoka. The Rebels need to win all three games to keep in the chase for the #2 or #3 D10 seed. If the Rebels lose again, they will likely fall to fifth place. That would put them in the #5 seed playing the #4 seed for the right to play the #1 seed Elk River. That is a tough row to hoe.

While the top five are battling for seeds in the tourney, the next three D10 teams, Anoka, Princeton and Spring Lake Park, are all tied in the D10 standings. This is the race within the race and it remains too close to call except to say that Andover has fallen behind these three teams but still remains a threat.

Anoka and Spring Lake Park have six D10 games left. Princeton has seven D10 games left. Anoka plays Andover, Champlin Park and St. Francis this week. Princeton plays Spring Lake Park (in the first of their two games), Centennial and Irondale this week. Spring Lake Park plays four D10 games this week. Besides Princeton, the Panthers play Coon Rapids, Irondale and archrival Blaine.

Princeton played in IGH/SSP tourney last week. They lost the opening game to Crow River, beat Forest Lake 1-0 and lost to D10 rival Andover 1-0 in the consolation title game. Anoka lost to Centennial 3-1, lost to Rogers 3-2 and beat Coon Rapids 10-1 last week. Spring Lake Park beat Rogers 4-1 and St. Francis 7-0 last week.

The Panthers continue to play well and this week will be tough for them. They play Prior Lake in addition to the four D10 games. Winning three of the four D10 games would virtually lock up a D10 playoff spot for the Panthers.

Andover and Irondale are the “bubble teams.” Irondale has 24 points and six games to play; Andover has 23 points and six games to play. Irondale plays Rogers, Blaine, Spring Lake Park and Princeton this week and needs to win. The Knights have been one of the surprises this year. It would be nice to see them in the D10 playoffs this year.

Andover had a tremendous year last year, making the state tourney. This year the Huskies are struggling to make the D10 playoffs. They have a key game with Anoka this week. A win over Anoka and a sweep of St. Francis and Coon Rapids in their other two games would give the Huskies 9 points and put them back into the chase should Anoka, Spring Lake Park or Princeton fall. Andover’s D10 playoff hopes may rest on having to beat Centennial in their last D10 game, a game that Centennial may need to take the #2 or #3 seed into the playoffs.

Elk River keeps the #1 seed. Centennial’s win over Blaine gives them the #2 seed and Blaine takes the #3 seed this week. If Rogers makes their move, they will most likely move into the top three. Centennial and Champlin Park will be battling it out this week and to the winner goes the spoils. Anoka remains tough and is a good tourney team and could surprise. Spring Lake Park has shown continued improvement over the season. Will they continue to improve? Princeton remains in the middle of the mix.

District 11 - Cloquet beat Proctor in a D11 game 8-2 and then took off for the cities. The Lumberjacks beat Blaine 6-4, tied Mounds View 2-2 and lost to Roseville 4-2 on their weekend. They play Armstrong this week. Hermantown beat Superior 4-1 last week and also play Armstrong this week.

Duluth East beat Rochester Red 7-1, lost to Rochester Red 4-2 and played Centennial. This week the Hounds host White Bear Lake. The Duluth Lakers played in the Virginia tourney. The Lakers beat Northern Lakes and Proctor to advance to the finals against West Fargo. Proctor played in the Virginia tourney. The Rails beat the Grand Forks Golden Eagles 7-6, lost to the Lakers and beat Virginia 5-0 for third place. The Rails play Duluth East, Greenway and Little Falls this week.

Things are quiet in D11 this week. The next big event is the Cloquet tourney with 12 teams entered. Tourney play will open February 4h. The 12 teams entered are divided into two pools. Pool A has Cloquet, Apple Valley, Coon Rapids, Mankato, Spring Lake Park and Waconia. Pool B has Greenway, Hermantown, Sibley, St. Cloud, Superior and the Thunder Bay Kings.

Hermantown had the week off and continues that this week. The Hawks keep the #1 seed, but will be tested at the Cloquet tourney in two weeks. Cloquet take the #2 seed this week. But the Lumberjacks remain a mystery. Their 1-1-1 record on their Southern swing last week was good, but still indicates that they could be playing better. Duluth East beat Cloquet two weeks ago, but remains an up and down team. Their swing through Rochester last week did not impress. Proctor continues to work at getting better and has shown improvement, but their loss to the Lakers at Virginia was a tough game.

West Regional (D3, D5, D6) - The gap between the West Regional teams continues to be narrowing. In D3, Wayzata and OMG traveled to Roseau and had really good tourneys. Wayzata took second. But the Trojans were almost upset by Armstrong (winning 2-1) and OMG was tied by Orono 1-1 when they returned to D3 play. This week, Wayzata looks to be the best in D3, but OMG, Mpls Storm, Crow River and Armstrong will challenge for the remaining D3 seed. In D5, St. Cloud and STMA remain the odds-on favorites for seeds, but the gap is narrowing. St. Cloud almost lost to MAML (winning 2-1). The race for the #3 seed is wide open.

In D6, Burnsville edged out a little and Minnetonka faltered. But it will be anybody’s guess on the outcome of the D6 playoffs. Edina put on a show at Roseau and struggled to keep a 1-1 tie against Eden Prairie two days after they beat the Eagle 5-1. Prior Lake continues to play well, taking the IGH/SSP tourney and beating Minnetonka 4-1.

District 3 - D3 continues the “soap opera.” Wayzata and OMG ran away to play at Roseau. OMG lost their opening pool game to Eden Prairie 3-2. They went on to beat Fargo Flyers Gold 10-0, Roseau 8-5 and Moorhead 5-2, but couldn’t make the championship round.

Wayzata played like world beaters as the Trojans easily won their pool. beating Lakeville South 6-1, East Grand Forks 9-1 and Warroad 10-0. In the championship round, they beat a tough TRF team 5-4 before losing to Edina 6-1. The Trojans took second place.

With the two teams separated by a single point (mostly due to the Trojans losing 5 of their “unfair play” points), OMG and Wayzata meet this Sunday afternoon at the PIC with the D3 title at stake. The loser may have more at stake (especially Wayzata) then the D3 title. A loss could cause the two teams to part (keeping with the “soap opera” theme). The villain would be the Mpls Storm (alias: the mysterious Mpls Park team). The Storm are positioned to make a move. If the Storm can shake the sneaky, persistent Crow River team, they could take second, splitting Wayzata and OMG’s one-two hold on D3.

Wayzata beat Armstrong 2-1 when they returned from Roseau. The Trojans play Mound Westonka in addition to OMG this week. OMG tied Orono 1-1 last week.

The Mpls Storm and Crow River play this week. If either team can take six points out of those two games, that team could climb into second place over the loser of Sunday’s Wayzata/OMG game. Crow River plays St. Louis Park in addition to the Storm this week. Mpls Storm plays Orono.

Crow River took second place at the IGH/SSP tourney. The Tigers beat Princeton, beat IGH/SSP 5-2 and lost to Prior Lake 6-2 in the championship game. The Mpls Storm beat Hopkins 5-1 and Mound Westonka 6-0 this week.

Armstrong beat Hopkins 5-3 and St. Louis Park 4-1 last week besides losing to Wayzata. They have two D3 games left (Storm and Crow River). Armstrong takes a day trip to D11, playing Cloquet and Hermantown this weekend. Armstrong hosts the New Hope tourney the weekend of Feb. 4.

Orono played in the Mariucci tourney in Eveleth over the weekend. The Spartans lost to Superior 4-3 and beat Hutchinson 5-0 and International Falls 6-5 in overtime to win the consolation title. They returned to dent OMG’s D3 title hopes, tying OMG 1-1 in league play. Orono has become an interesting team this year. They have played better than .500 hockey and have taken hardware home in all four tourneys they have entered.

The D3 playoff format this year will have a single play-in game between the teams that finish eighth and ninth. St. Louis Park is likely to finish ninth and Hopkins/Orono and Mound Westonka fighting for the sixth, seventh and eighth seeds. Hopkins has the edge and if the Royals end up in eighth that would set up a play-in game between two arch rivals.

Wayzata takes the #1 seed. The Storm takes the #2 seed. The Trojans may finish as low as third in D3, but if they do it will be because of the loss of their “unfair play” points. The Storm continue to improve and though OMG played well at Roseau, OMG was tied by Orono when they returned. Too bad this year D3 gets only two seeds to the West. It would really make the D3 playoffs unpredictable.

District 5 - St. Cloud beat River Lakes 7-2 and beat a steadily improving MAML 2-1 in D5 play last week. The Huskies play Sartell and Willmar this week in D5 action. STMA beat Sauk Rapids 9-0 and Willmar 9-1 last week. This week, the Knights travel to the Thief River Falls area. They play the Prowlers in a single game and they travel to Warroad to play in their tourney. The Knights draw the Fargo Angels and Warroad in their pool. There are nine teams entered.

St. Cloud continues to play perfect hockey in D5. They have 36 points in 12 games and should run that streak to 15 games. Then they play STMA. Unfortunately for the Knights, they need help to overtake the Huskies and MAML gave it a good shot in losing 2-1.

The battle for third place in D5 continues. Buffalo, Sartell, MAML and River Lakes were all knotted as the week began. Buffalo had strung four D5 wins together, but had their hopes bashed last week. The Bison lost to MAML 4-3 and to Sauk Rapids 4-3. With only four D5 games left, Buffalo needs to win.

With the Bison dropping in the standings, Sartell lost also. The Sabres had their hopes dashed at Willmar, losing to the Cardinals 4-3. MAML played only St. Cloud last week, but this week the Moose can make a move this week. They play Willmar, Litchfield, River Lakes and Sartell. A sweep would put the Moose (horns, hoofs and all) in third place in D5.

River Lakes plays Buffalo besides MAML this week. Last week, the Stars played in the Fergus Falls tourney. They lost their opening game to the Sioux Falls Blue, lost to Grafton/River Park 5-1 and beat Fargo 5-3.

Hutchinson played in the Mariucci tourney. They lost a tough game to Hibbing in the opener 3-0, lost to Orono 5-0 and beat Eveleth 7-2. They returned to play Redwood Falls. This week Hutchinson plays Sartell and Willmar. Willmar win over Sartell was a good one for the Cardinals. They play MAML, St. Cloud and Hutchinson in D5 games this week to end their D5 season.

Sauk Rapids plays in the Red Wing tourney. They open bracket play against Faribault. The Storm win over Sartell was a surprise. Litchfield sprung a surprise. They took third place at Fergus Falls. They beat the Fargo Flyers 4-0, lost to the Otters 7-3 and beat Mesabi East 3-2 in the third place game.

Sometimes the teams make it easy. That is what happened in D5 this week. There are no changes in the seeds. St. Cloud takes the #1 seed; STMA takes the #2 seed; and the Moose (MALM) keep the #3 seed.

District 6 - Last week, D8 Farmington ran the table at St. Cloud’s Geyer Tourney. This week, Edina ran the table at the Roseau tourney, beating three tough teams in pool that had been playing good hockey. The Hornets beat Stillwater 5-1, Moorhead 9-0 and Grand Rapids 11-2. In the championship round, they beat D6 rival Eden Prairie 5-1 and Wayzata 6-1. Before the Hornets arrived in Roseau, they stopped in Bemidji and beat the Lumberjacks 7-2.

Edina returned home to play Eden Prairie again. With both teams locked in a battle for the top two spots in the league (with three other teams) and two all-important first-round byes in the D6 playoffs, the teams took the ice again two days later and 300 miles from Roseau. The Hornets came out skating and Eden Prairie didn’t. For the first half of the game, the Eagles relied on their goalie who put on an amazing performance making difficult stop after difficult stop.

The Hornets scored their only goal when a forward found a five-foot open space in front of the net and skated into the goalie and scored by deking the goalie out. Trailing 1-0, Eden Prairie forwards finally began to move halfway through the game. The Eagles started to move the puck easily through the Hornet defense and finally scored to tie the game 1-1.

The third period started with expectations of a real donnybrook. It didn’t happen. The refs stepped in and called five sequential penalties on the Eagles in the 14-minute period. The Eagles goalie continued his outstanding play and the Eagles defense stiffened. The game ended in a tie. Eden Prairie played half of the last period on the penalty kill. And Eden Prairie may have lost their “unfair play” point. Edina didn’t.

Edina is set to make their move in D6 this week. The Hornets play three D6 games (Kennedy, Jefferson and Waconia). Eden Prairie has two D6 games this week, Burnsville and Chaska. After this week, the Eagles will have one D6 game remaining (with Edina). The tie cost the Eagles two points. A sweep of their remaining games would give the Eagles 46 points. An Edina sweep of their remaining D6 games would give the Hornets 46 points.

Burnsville played Minnetonka and Chaska last week. The Blaze beat Minnetonka 3-1 on Sunday. The Skippers skated with the Blaze for the first half of the game, but slowed and the bigger Blaze forwards used their size to keep the Skippers off the puck. The Blaze beat Chaska 4-1 in their second D6 game of the week. The first half of the game was a tough, rugged sort of game with both teams moving the puck. Burnsville had a 2-1 lead with four minutes to go when the Blaze picked up their sixth penalty. One more penalty and the Blaze would lose their “unfair play” point.

The Blaze started to back off. They would throw no more checks. They would avoid any reaching for the puck and surrender any races to the Chaska forwards. The game became a dump and chase kind of game where the Blaze were content to get the puck into the Chaska zone and apply only a modest amount of pressure.

It worked as they constantly worked to dig the puck out of their boards and move it to the Chaska zone. When a Blaze and a Chaska forward tangled in center ice, the Blaze forward hit the ice purposely to avoid any chance of a penalty call. It worked. The Blaze added a third goal when a Blaze forward slapped a shot from the slot past the Chaska goalie into the upper right corner. The fourth goal was an empty netter. Chaska came close a number of times to tie the game as the Hawks continued to play aggressive.

Burnsville has four D6 games to go. The Blaze can finish with 50 points. The Eden Prairie/Burnsville game on Sunday should be a great game between the two teams, especially if the Eagles goalie continues their outstanding play. Burnsville also plays Kennedy this week.

Minnetonka lost to Prior Lake 4-1 last week. Assuming both teams got their “unfair play” points, Minnetonka, if they sweep their remaining games, would get 45 points. The Skippers play Waconia and Prior Lake this week. Prior Lake plays Kennedy in addition to playing the Skippers again this week. The Lakers can get 43 points if they win their last six D6 games. A second win this week over Minnetonka could set up a potential showdown with Burnsville in the last D6 game for both teams.

Prior Lake won the IGH/SSP tourney over the week. The Lakers beat Andover 6-0, Hudson 4-3 and Crow River 6-2 in the championship game. Prior Lake also plays Spring Lake Park this week.

Chaska was the third D6 team at Roseau and they opened with a bang, winning their first two pool games. The Hawks beat Woodbury 3-2 and Brainerd 6-1, but lost the pool championship game to Thief River Falls 7-4. They lost to East Grand Forks 5-3 on Sunday. Besides playing Burnsville this week, Chaska lost a D6 game to Waconia 5-4. The loss to Waconia keeps the Hawks in the D6 basement. They remain a team that plays good teams well and then plays other teams and loses.

Waconia beat Kennedy in another D6 game 4-3 last week. The two wins have put Waconia in sixth place behind Prior Lake. They continue to improve and will tested this week playing Minnetonka and Edina. Jefferson lost to Minnetonka, beat Shakopee 5-3, lost to Kennedy 8-1 and lost to Shakopee 4-1 to end a tough week. Jefferson plays Edina this week in D6.

Kennedy has shown improvement in the past month. They had a good tourney in their own tourney at Christmas time and are playing well. They will be tested this week playing Edina and Prior Lake.

Shakopee heads to Red Wing this weekend to play in their tourney. They open play against Tartan. That will pit two improving teams playing each other. The winner will have a good chance of winning the tourney. The loser will have a good chance of winning the consolation title.

Things heated up in D6 last week. Burnsville and Prior Lake won. Edina and Eden Prairie tied. Minnetonka lost. Burnsville takes the #1 seed this week. Edina takes the #2 seed. Prior Lake takes the #3 seed.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Another Way to Look at PeeWee A Hockey - Jan. 21

By frederick61

Last Monday, Lakeville North returned from Fargo after winning a 16-team tourney consisting of mostly teams from the Dakotas and Canada. The Panthers beat West Fargo 6-4 Sunday morning and they beat the beat the #2 team in the North Dakota league Sunday afternoon, the Bismarck Admirals 8-4. Lakeville North then traveled 300 miles to play a Monday game against a top team.

They played Rosemount Monday night. The Panthers showed up with two kids out for the game. They lost another kid less than a minute into the game when an Irish kid lost a race to the puck and out of frustration pushed the Panther into the boards. The Irish lost their “unfair play” point with that penality. Late in the game, the Panthers lost another kid when another Irish kid checked him near the boards and he fell awkwardly. The Irish kid drew a 5-minute major and was kicked out of the game.

This game was not intense and the referees were not wrong in their calls. The game was not “out of control” at any time. Rosemount beat Lakeville North 7-1. A total six penalties were called on both teams. The Panthers held a 1-0 lead and the game was close halfway through the second period and then the Panthers tired. They had driven 600 miles on the weekend and played four games. The speedy Irish forwards easily broke down the Panther defense late in the game even though the Irish were playing with only 10 forwards.

The “unfair play” point was never part of this game. The kids were playing hockey. But hockey people call the “fair play” point successful. Even the New York Times wrote an article in praise of the concept.

The reason the fair play point is called the “unfair play” point in this blog is because it is unfair to the team, their association and their coaches. In our society, we are supposed to punish the wrong doer, not the community. They are important hockey lessons for kids to learn, but the most important lesson for kids to learn is that the individual is responsible.

As you watch the toll taken on teams in their leagues because of teams losing “unfair play” points, remember that the wrongdoers go unnamed and are never really punished. But nobody wants to address the individual kid. To try an address the individual kid becomes messy; parents may complain and boards don’t like to make pronouncements. Under the “fair play” concept, have the adults turned to the kids to “police” the kids?

If the “fair play” concept works, what problem does it solve? If the number of injured kids is lower, how is it lower? Some would say yes because some coaches scream at kids for being too aggressive and they would play more passively. But Rosemount was not being overly aggressive in their game against Lakeville North.

The “fair play” concept is applied partially during the season. It does not work outside of league games. It can never be applied to tournament or non-league games. You would have to somehow total the penalties at the end of the game and take away goals. As a result, in most games the kids play during the season, “fair play” is not part of the game. A D6 team plays 45-60 games, 18 games or approximately 1/3 are league games; the remaining 2/3 are unaffected by the rule. So let’s drop the fa├žade that it is a teaching moment for the kids.

Now, in light of the fair play point being considered successful, Minnesota Hockey is considering a ruling that bans checking at the PeeWee level because a study showed injuries in a non-checking league (usually house or C level hockey) to be less than in a checking league (usually A or B level hockey). That does not make sense. But it is part of another piecemeal attempt to solve a “problem.”

What is difficult to understand is USA Hockey will still have kids and their parents signing waivers acknowledging the physical nature of the game and removing USA Hockey and affiliates from blame.

The problem is nobody has defined the problem they are trying to solve. Like the refs (who were correctly applying the rules) in the Rosemount/Lakeville North game, Minnesota Hockey has piecemealed solutions by applying “fair play” points and potentially applying non-checking. Does anybody notice another old piecemeal, the STOP badges on the backs of youth players, anymore?

If their charter is to foster hockey in the Minnesota, hockey boards can’t do that by ignoring “bell shaped” curves of probabilities and re-defining hockey. As the USA Hockey waiver says, competitive hockey is a physical game. USA Hockey and Minnesota Hockey have to accept that concept.

Both North Dakota and South Dakota have PeeWee A teams that are competing in leagues this year. They do not use the fair play point. Has anybody thought to compare their experiences with kids from Minnesota? Their top teams will compete with most Minnesota teams. But hey, what is the problem trying to be solved again?

Maybe competition is wrong at the youth level and USA and Minnesota Hockey should turn off the scoreboard at PeeWee games. After all, nobody wants to see kids hurt playing the sport. I took my two grandsons to an outdoor rink last Sunday. One’s a Mite and one’s a Squirt. I played goalie (big stick, no skates) and they organized a pick-up game. It was a blast to watch them skate and enjoy the sport. After two hours, I had to force them to leave. They played with only sticks and skates. So did the other kids.

Nobody got hurt. They could have gotten hurt. The kids we played with wanted to know when we would be back.

USA and Minnesota Hockey really needs to define the problem (if any) and implement a solution that lets kids enjoy the sport (including the competition) as they learn. They should not be reacting to the latest study.

North Regional (D12, D15, D16) - Roseau is the focus of PeeWee A play this week in the North. They hold their tourney this week. In the past two years, it has been a great tourney featuring highly competitive games. This year will be no different. There are 16 teams entered from seven Minnesota districts. Four D16 teams are entered (Thief River Falls, Warroad, East Grand Forks and Roseau). The most interesting pool groups Edina, Moorhead Black, Grand Rapids and Stillwater. Play opens Friday, Jan. 21. The Moorhead Black/Grand Rapids game will be a preview for the North Regional.

Eveleth and Virginia play in D12 and are 5 miles apart on Highway 53. Both are hosting tourneys this week. At the Marriuci in Eveleth, eight teams play a bracket tourney (Orono, Superior, Hutchinson, Hibbing, Highland, International Falls, Mahtomedi and the host Golden Bears). Play opens Friday afternoon.

In the Queen City Classic, Virginia hosts an eight-team bracket play tourney. The Blue Devils open with Greenway. Northfield plays West Fargo in the other bracket game. In the lower bracket, Northern Lakes plays the Duluth Lakers and Grand Forks Golden Eagles plays Proctor.

District 12 - For the past month, the team in D12 has been Grand Rapids. There is no change this week. The Thunderhawks played two D12 games last week, beating Virginia 11-1 and Greenway 11-0. This week, they play at Roseau. They will scrimmage Lakeville South (often these pre-Roseau tourney games can be informal) and have a tough pool draw, playing Moorhead Black, Stillwater and Edina.

Eveleth, Hibbing and International Falls play at the Mariucci. Hibbing opens bracket play against an improving Hutchinson team. Eveleth and the Falls play two tough D2 teams. The Falls draw Highland and Eveleth draws Mahtomedi.

Last week, Hibbing strung three D12 wins together, beating Greenway 7-1, International Falls 7-4 and Mesabi East 10-2. International Falls beat Eveleth 3-1.

Virginia beat Eveleth 11-3, lost to Mesabi East 4-3 besides losing to Grand Rapids. Greenway beat Eveleth 7-2 and Proctor 7-0. Mesabi East lost to Proctor 9-8 and played Superior, in addition to beating Virginia and losing to Hibbing. The Giants play in the Fergus Falls tourney on the weekend.

Grand Rapids keeps the #1 seed to the North Regional this week and Hibbing takes the #2 seed. Both teams will be challenged in tourneys this week. Grand Rapids has a tough set of games to make it to Championship Sunday. But if they do, the Thunderhawks will move into the top tier of PeeWee A teams in the state.

Hibbing could face off against the Falls at Eveleth. International Falls takes the #3 seed, but both Mesabi East and Greenway are challenging for a seed. Mesabi East continues to show improvement and will be tested at Fergus Falls.

District 15 - Moorhead Black heads to Roseau and is in the same tough pool with Grand Rapids, Edina and Stillwater. Last week, the Black added two more D15 wins to their undefeated D15 streak, beating Alexandria 4-3 and Fergus Falls 11-2. The Black also beat Crookston 6-1. Moorhead Black’s two victories gives the Black the D15 title and leaves Alexandria and Fergus Falls to battle it out for second with Brainerd.

Brainerd beat Moorhead Orange 3-2 and lost to Detroit Lakes 4-1 last week. This week the Warriors also head to Roseau. They draw Woodbury, Chaska and Thief River Falls in pool play.

Fergus Falls hosts their tourney on the weekend. The Otters play Alex before and after their tourney in two D15 games this week. Alexandria plays Moorhead Orange besides playing the Otters twice this week. Moorhead Orange struggled in the Hibbing tourney two weeks ago, but came back to win their first two D15 games, beating Little Falls 3-2 and a tough Northern Lakes team 6-4 last week. The Orange lost to Brainerd 3-2. The Orange play Little Falls again this week.

Detroit Lakes beat Brainerd and played the Fargo Angels last week. The Lakers play Crookston, West Fargo and Little Falls this week. Little Falls played Hutchinson last week. This week the Flyers hit the road playing Sartell, Sauk Rapids and Detroit Lakes. Northern Lakes heads to Virginia this weekend to play in their tourney. They draw the Duluth Lakers in the opening round.

The two teams that finish in second and third place in the league standings will have the edge in the race for the #2 seed to the regional. That also goes for the teams finishing sixth and seventh. The teams finishing fourth or fifth would play the Black, providing D15 uses the same format as they used last year. If they do, teams finishing first, fourth, fifth and eighth will be bracketed together. Moorhead Orange’s two wins this week helped the Orange, but did not lift them out of eighth. If Moorhead Orange remain in eighth, they will open the D15 playoffs against Moorhead Black.

Fergus Falls, Brainerd and Alexandria are still locked in a struggle for second place in D15 behind Moorhead Black. The Black keeps their #1 seed, but Alexandria takes the #2 seed. They pushed the Black, losing 4-3. Detroit Lakes and Moorhead Orange are making noise.

District 16 - Thief River Falls beat Crookston 7-1 and played Crookston and Roseau last week. The Prowlers remain tied with Bemidji atop D16. They play at Roseau on the weekend and draw Woodbury, Chaska and Brainerd in pool play.

Bemidji traveled to St. Cloud as the Lumberjacks continued to play a tough schedule. In pool play, they lost their opener to top-rated Farmington 6-0, and beat Sartell 8-1, Andover 6-0 and STMA 3-1. Bemidji hosts Edina (the Hornets are on their way to Roseau) in a return match this week. The Hornets beat the Lumberjacks 6-3 seven weeks ago at Braemar. They also host Crookston.

Roseau hosts their 16-team tourney this week, a tournament that has become one of the top tourneys in the state the past few years. The Rams play Eden Prairie, Osseo/Maple Grove and Fargo Flyers Gold. The Flyers are third in the North Dakota league with a 6-2 record. Their two losses were to the Bismarck Blades 3-2 and West Fargo 3-2. Roseau beat Grafton 9-2 and Red Lake Falls 7-1 last week. They played Thief River Falls also.

East Grand Forks plays at Roseau and draw Wayzata, Lakeville South and Warroad in pool play. The Green Wave beat Red Lake Falls 11-1 and Warroad 10-2 in D16 games last week. They also played the Grand Forks Greyhounds and beat the Fargo Flyers Gold 5-4. Warroad is the fourth D16 team entered.

Crookston played five games last week. They lost games to TRF 7-1 and Moorhead 6-1 and played Red Lake Falls, Warroad and Thief River Falls again. The Pirates travel to Detroit Lakes this week besides playing Bemidji.

In “A League of Their Own” the Tom Hanks character tells a player, “Are you crying? There’s no crying in baseball.” The Bemidji kids should take note. They lost to a tough Farmington 6-0 and beat three good teams 17-2. There’s no crying in St. Cloud, only Edina this week as the Lumberjacks continue a tough schedule. They keep the #1 seed this week. Thief River Falls takes the #2 seed this week. The Prowlers will have a chance to prove they are in a “League of Their Own” at Roseau. Woodbury is playing good hockey and Chaska is a tough underrated team that is dangerous as they showed last year at Roseau, making it to Championship Sunday. The Prowlers will have their chances.

The #3 seed goes to Roseau. Ten days ago, they beat the Prowlers in their own tourney. The Green Wave has shown improvement and will be dangerous at the Roseau tourney. The three D16 teams entered will have their chances to create their own league. Warroad will be challenged.

South Regional (D4, D8, D9) - D9 had two tourneys this week; Rochester and New Ulm. Five D9 teams and Rochester Red entered the 12-team Rochester tourney. Three D9 teams entered the 10 team New Ulm tourney. Sibley beat Crow River 5-3 to win the New Ulm tourney and D9 teams New Ulm and Dodge County joined them on Championship Sunday. At Rochester, an improving Owatonna team won two of their three pool games, but lost to Jefferson 5-0 in the consolation game.

Farmington, after adding the Geyer Trophy to the Edina trophy last week, returns to D8 action this week. The Tigers play four games, including two against the Lakevilles. Rosemount lost their return match with Edina 4-1.

D4 has allocated one of its seeds to D8/D9. D8 and D9 each have three seeds and D4 had two. District 4 playoffs will be held in Windom on Feb. 19-20.

District 9 playoffs will be a double elimination tourney starting Thursday, Feb. 17, and will finish the following Sunday, Feb. 20. District 8 playoffs will begin Sunday, Feb. 20. The fourth-place finishers in both tourneys will meet for a play-in game to the South Regional. The D8 fourth-place finisher will be decided around 1 p.m., on Feb. 27. The site of the play-in game is unknown.

District 4 - Luverne played a single D9 game last week. The Cardinals beat Faribault 9-2. Luverne has two D9 games left (Austin and Mankato). They hold a four-point lead over Owatonna and a nine-point lead over Mankato in the D9 West. A win over Austin eliminates the Huskies from contention and sets up the Jan. 30, game with Mankato for the West title. Luverne will play in the Fergus Falls tourney this week.

Redwood Falls and Marshall played in the New Ulm tourney last week. Redwood Falls lost to New Ulm 6-0 and St. Louis Park 8-3 in pool play. RWF lost to Apple Valley 8-0 in a consolation game. Marshall lost to eventual tourney champ Sibley 8-0 and to St. Francis 8-0 in pool play. They lost to D9 Austin 6-5 in a consolation game.

Marshall heads over to Interstate 29 for a short drive to play in the Watertown PeeWee A Jamboree this weekend. The Tigers play two South Dakota teams, Watertown and Mitchell, and one North Dakota team, Dickinson. The Watertown Lakers and the Mitchell Marlins play in an eight-team South Dakota PeeWee A league. The Lakers' record is 2-8; the Marlins' record is 2-5. Dickinson plays in the North Dakota PeeWee A. They have a 2-6-1 league record.

The D4 playoff will be played in Windom on Feb. 19-20. Luverne looks to be the best in D4 this year and take the #1 seed this week. Redwood Falls and Marshall have been playing better over the past month, but can they catch the Luverne?

District 8 - Famington destroyed the competition at St. Cloud. In the Geyer Tourney, the Tigers beat Bemidji 6-0, Andover 6-0 and Sartell 11-1 in pool play. In the championship round, Farmington beat Burnsville 2-1 and Minnetonka 3-1. Only Burnsville hung with the Tigers as they outscored their opponents 28-3 and outshot them 197-53. Their defense is tough, but what was impressive this weekend is that all 13 forwards each scored one or more of those 28 goals. This week, the Tigers return to D8 action, playing Johnson/Como, Eagan, Lakeville North and Lakeville South.

Rosemount beat Hastings 8-0 last week in addition to beating Lakeville North 7-1 and losing to Edina 4-1. They have a single D8 game with Eastview this week. Woodbury stepped outside of D8 last week, beating Rochester Red 6-2 and losing to Prior Lake 3-2. The Predators head to Roseau this week. They will play a scrimmage against the Rams before the tourney and draw Chaska, Thief River Falls and Brainerd in pool play. They play Inver Grove Heights/South St. Paul and Hastings when they return.

Lakeville North won the 16-team, bracket play Fargo tourney The Panthers beat the Dakota Lasers 8-1, the #2 ranked (North Dakota) Bismarck Blades 9-4, #7 ranked West Fargo Packers 6-4 and the #9 ranked Bismarck Admirals 8-4. Lakeville North plays Hastings and Rogers, in addition to playing Farmington this week.

Lakeville South beat Eagan 7-0 in their only game last week. The Cougars travel to Roseau and will play Grand Rapids in a scrimmage before the tourney. The Cougars draw Wayzata, Warroad and East Grand Forks in pool play. They play Farmington on their return.

Sibley won at New Ulm. The Generals beat Marshall 8-0 and Dodge County 5-3 in pool play. In championship play, Sibley beat New Ulm 9-1 and Crow River 5-3. Sibley plays in IGH/SSP tourney this week. They play Hudson in the opening of bracket play. IGH/SSP draws Forest Lake in their opening game. Crow River plays Princeton and Prior Lake plays Andover in the other opening games. The Spartans have a tough field entered in their tourney.

Last week, IGH/SSP played Hastings in two critical games for both teams. They beat the Raiders 5-1 in the first game and lost the second 3-1. Eastview made the championship round in the Rochester tourney. The Lightning beat Rochester Black 6-0 and Mankato 7-3, and lost to Jefferson 3-2. That was good enough to win the pool. In the championship round, the Lightning lost to Centennial 5-2 and to Rochester Red 4-2 in the third-place game.

Johnson/Como held their Governor’s Cup tourney last weekend. Mounds View beat Waconia 3-2 in the championship game. The J/C Devils lost to Waconia 4-1 and Kennedy 7-2, and tied River Lakes 1-1 in the tourney. This week they play Hastings, Apple Valley, Sibley and Farmington in D8 play. After this week, the Devils will have only one D8 game left (against Farmington).

Eagan and Apple Valley tied last week in D8 action. As the D8 season winds down, the 12 teams look to be breaking into four groups in the standings. All 12 teams will advance to the playoffs. The top four seeds will get a bye. The first game is played among teams seeded 5 to 12 and is a single elimination game. Farmington, Rosemount and Woodbury look to have one of the top four seeds. Lakeville South and Lakeville North will battle for the 4th and 5th seeds. That leaves Eastview, Sibley, IGH/SSP and Hastings battling for 6th to 9th seeds. The 6th and 7th seeds have the edge in the playoffs and the best opportunity to guarantee a shot in the regional. IGH/SSP, splitting their two games, makes the race within a race close.

Apple Valley and Eagan’s tie also aids Johnson/Como. These three teams are battling for the 10th and 11th seeds. Teams finishing there will have a shot at the regionals if they can knock off one of the 6th or 7th seeds. But a team finishing 12th will have a tough road to get to the regionals.

Farmington keeps the #1 seed this week. They won a tough St. Cloud tourney. Rosemount keeps the #2 seed, but the Irish are playing shorthanded and that could hurt. Woodbury should make it to Championship Sunday at Roseau and will have their chances to show that they have improved. Lakeville South has a tough pool at Roseau. If the Cougars make it to Championship Sunday they would really impress. This week the #3 seed remains with Lakeville South.

District 9 - Things were cooking this week in D9. Two tourneys were held, one at Rochester and one at New Ulm.

The Rochester tourney had all three Rochester PeeWee A teams entered. Rochester Black lost their three pool games to Mankato 5-2, Eastview 6-0 and Jefferson 12-0. The Black lost a Sunday consolation to Mound Westonka 4-0. The Gold lost to two of D10's top teams, Centennial 12-0 and Champlin Park 7-0. They tied Albert Lea 5-5 and on Sunday lost to Mankato 5-2. Rochester Red made it to Championship Sunday, winning their pool. The Red beat Owatonna 9-0, Mound Westonka 7-1 and Quad City 3-0. In the championship round, the Red lost to Champlin Park 3-2 and beat Eastview 4-2 for third place.

The Red entertain Duluth East this weekend and host Mankato. The Black beat Red Wing 3-0 last week. They play a single game against Mankato this week. The Gold play Red Wing and Austin in D9 games this week.

Northfield plays in the Virginia tourney this weekend. They draw West Fargo in the opening game. West Fargo lost to Lakeville North 6-4 in the semifinals of their tourney last week. West Fargo beat Wayzata Blue B1 2-1 to get to the semifinals. The Raiders also play two D9 games this week, Austin before the weekend and Owatonna when they return. With a seven-point lead over their nearest competitor, Northfield has locked up the D9 East.

Dodge County is an improving team. The Wildcats played in the New Ulm tourney last week. The Wildcats beat St. Francis 3-1 and lost to Sibley 5-3 in pool play. In a consolation game on Sunday, they lost to host New Ulm 4-3. They play Austin in their only game this week. Austin played at New Ulm also. They lost their two pool games to Crow River 10-0 and Apple Valley 9-6. In a consolation game Sunday, they beat Marshall 6-5.

In the D9 West, Luverne leads but are “guests” and will play in the D4 playoffs. That leaves Owatonna and Mankato to fight it out for first. Both teams played in the Rochester tourney. Owatonna is improving and it showed as the Huskies beat Quad City Iowa 7-1 and Mound Westonka 3-1 in pool play. They lost to Rochester Red and in the fifth-place game to Jefferson 5-0. Mankato beat Rochester Black 5-2, Jefferson 4-2 and lost to Eastview 7-3. In the sixth-place game on Sunday they beat the Rochester Gold 5-2.

This week Owatonna plays Red Wing and Mason City Iowa in non-conference games. They play Faribault in their only D9 game. Mankato plays New Ulm and Rochester Red, besides the Black this week. New Ulm beat St. Louis Park 5-3 and Redwood Falls 6-0 to make it to the championship round of their tourney. They lost to Sibley 7-1, but came back to beat Dodge County 4-3 for third place. This week they play Waconia, Faribault and Mankato.

Albert Lea played at Rochester. They lost to Champlin Park 11-0, Centennial 15-1 and tied Rochester Gold 5-5. On Sunday, they lost a consolation game to Quad City 4-2.

Mankato keeps the #1 seed this week and Owatonna takes the #2 seed. Both teams played well at the Rochester tourney last week. Northfield takes the #3 seed.

East Regional (D2, D10, D11) - Cloquet and Duluth East are in town this week playing D2 and D10 teams. The teams in the East Regional at this point in the season are well-matched except for Elk River in D10 and Roseville in D2. The Elks have started to run away in the chase for the D10 title and Roseville has added to their lead last week.

In D11, all five teams will contend for their two seeds. What teams emerge from the district playoffs to this regional is a guess at best. One thing for certain, it will be the team that is playing at their best.

District 2 - Going into this week, Roseville has four D2 games remaining on their schedule. Stillwater has six games left (with three games unreported) and Forest Lake has five games left. Hudson has five games. At the start of last week, these teams were the only teams that could contend with the Roseville for the D2 title.

Roseville beat Highland 3-0 and Forest Lake 3-1 last week in D2 action. Forest Lake had a heavy D2 schedule, playing four games. The Rangers beat Highland 3-2, tied Tartan 1-1 and lost to Mahtomedi 3-2 in addition to losing to Roseville. Roseville is now on track to set the mark in D2 at 45 points. Forest Lake’s tough week has knocked the Rangers out of the race, leaving only the Ponies and the Hudson Raiders to contend.

Stillwater will need help. They play the Raiders on Jan. 31, but a win over Roseville will not be enough. The best the Ponies can do is to hit the 40 point mark. Please note that Tartan beat Stillwater 2-1 and Forest Lake 2-0 in November but has not reported their wins to D2. Hudson lost their second D2 game in a row this time to White Bear Lake 4-1. The Raiders play Roseville a week after Stillwater and will also need help. The best Hudson can do is 39 points.

Roseville plays Cloquet in their only game this week. Stillwater lost to Eden Prairie last week 3-1. The Ponies play in the Roseau tourney this week. They draw a tough pool, playing Grand Rapids, Moorhead and Edina. Forest Lake and Hudson play in the Inver Grove Heights tourney. The Rangers draw the host Spartans in the opening game on Friday. Hudson plays former D8 rival Sibley. Hudson had a great tourney two weeks ago at Brainerd, losing the championship game to Grand Rapids 3-2 in overtime. They beat Somerset 4-0 (yes, Fire fans, they have a team) last week.

Mounds View had a good week. The Mustangs won the Governor’s Cup, beating River Lakes 5-2, Armstrong 2-1 and Waconia 3-2. They play Cloquet and Stillwater this week. White Bear Lake lost to Wayzata 7-3, beat Hudson and played Tartan last week. The Bears continue play in D2 this week with games against Mahtomedi and Tartan. The White Bear Lake Moose Goheen tourney draw is out. With the new Vadnais Heights facilities available to the Bears, the tourney has expanded to 12 teams.

Tartan beat Jefferson 3-2 and beat the Wausau Warjacks 4-3, in addition to tying Forest Lake and playing White Bear Lake last week. The Warjacks lost two tough games to the 99 Fire the previous week, 3-2 and 4-1. This week the Titans play a return match with White Bear Lake. The Titans remain a “mystery team,” playing well at times and struggling at times. That’s kids.

Mahtomedi travels to Eveleth to play in the Mariucci. They draw the host Eveleth in their opening game. They return to play White Bear Lake.

What was said last week is worth repeating this week. Roseville keeps winning and the Raiders keep the #1 seed. Stillwater and Hudson are hanging in for the race for the D2 title. Hudson will be challenged in a tough IGH/SSP tourney, especially if they meet Prior Lake. Stillwater draws a tough pool at Roseau. Stillwater keeps the #2 seed this week.

Forest Lake will be challenged at IGH/SSP tourney and could meet Hudson for the title. But Mounds View carried the D2 flag well last week, winning the Governor’s Cup. They take the #3 seed. Highland, White Bear Lake, Tartan, Forest Lake and Mahtomedi can all challenge. When the first-place team can be beaten by the eighth-place team, you know the D2 playoffs will be tough.

District 10 - There are two stories in D10 this week. One is Elk River’s string of 14 D10 games in a month of play; the second is the battle in Rochester between Champlin Park and Centennial.

The Elks started their string by winning their first six games and threatened to run away with the D10 crown, but the Elks were dragged down two weeks ago when they went 2-2. Last week, the Elks regained their footing and first place. They beat Andover 4-1, Princeton 5-0, a tough Spring Lake Park team 6-3 and St. Francis 9-0.

Down in Rochester at their tourney, Champlin Park and Centennial found themselves in the same pool. The Rebels beat Rochester Gold 7-0 and Albert Lea 11-0; the Cougars beat the Gold 12-0 and Albert Lea 15-1. That set up a pool championship game that Centennial won 4-1. Both teams advanced to the championship round. Champlin Park beat Rochester Red 3-2 and Centennial beat Eastview 5-2 in the semifinals. The two teams met again in the championship. Centennial beat Champlin Park 5-3. Centennial also beat Blaine in a key D10 game before the Rochester tourney 2-1.

Elk River plays Champlin Park and Irondale this week. With five D10 games left and an eight-point lead in the standings over Blaine, the Elks are back on the “runaway” trail. The “cats, the kings and the rebs” are unlikely to catch the Elks.

Blaine plays the “four C’s” this week; Coon Rapids, Cloquet, Centennial and Champlin Park. Blaine beat Princeton 3-1 besides losing to Centennial last week. That was enough to give the Bengals second place in D10. Champlin Park, Centennial and Rogers all closely trail the Bengals. Centennial completed a busy week beating Anoka 3-1 and playing Stillwater.

Rogers played in the Geyer Tourney and pushed to top teams St. Cloud and Burnsville before losing to the Huskies 2-0 and the Blaze 3-2. The Royals led the Blaze 2-0 with six minutes to play and gave up three goals to lose the game. They beat Hopkins 2-1 to complete pool play and beat an improving Mpls Storm team in a consolation game 4-0. They play Anoka and Spring Lake Park in two key D10 games. On Sunday they play Lakeville North.

Princeton plays in the IGH/SSP tourney this week. They draw a tough Crow River team coming off winning the New Ulm tourney last week in their opening game of bracket play. The race within the race continues as Spring Lake Park, Andover and Anoka via for the two remaining seeds to the D10 playoffs. Irondale fell behind this week.

Spring Lake Park scored two tough D10 wins last week, beating Anoka 3-2 and Irondale 4-3. The Panthers play Rogers and St. Francis this week.

Andover played in the Geyer Tourney after losing to Elk River last week. They opened pool play with a 8-2 win over Sartell, but lost their last two pool games to top-rated Farmington 6-0 and Bemidji 8-0. In a consolation game, Andover beat Hopkins 5-3. The Huskies returned to play Champlin Park. This week they play at IGH/SSP tourney, drawing a tough Prior Lake team in the opening round.

Anoka lost two D10 games (Spring Lake Park and Centennial) and won one last week (Irondale). Heading into this week, Spring Lake Park has a slight advantage over Andover and Anoka as a result of winning last week. They do not play Andover or Anoka in their remaining D10 schedule. Anoka and Andover do meet. The race within the race remains too close to call.

Irondale played in the Governor’s Cup. The Knights beat Kennedy 5-4 in the opening game, but lost to Waconia 3-1 and Armstrong 7-2 in the third-place game. Irondale playoff chances were hurt with losses to Spring Lake Park and Anoka last week. The Knights are a team to be respected, but they have a tough D10 schedule remaining. It starts this week when the Knights play Centennial and Elk River.

St. Francis played in the New Ulm tourney. They lost to Dodge County 3-1 and beat Marshall 9-1 in pool play. They lost to St. Louis Park 5-0 in a consolation game. Coon Rapids had a good Governor’s Cup tourney. After losing to Armstrong 6-1, they beat River Lakes 3-2 and played Kennedy in the consolation championship.

Two weeks ago, Elk River took the #1 seed and it looked like they would keep it the rest of the year. Last week, they looked like they were about to tumble from the top. This week, the Elks are back to taking the #1 seed and keeping it the rest of the year. They are certainly heavy favorites to win the D10 title.

Centennial came on strong last week. The Cougars did this last year at this point in the season. They began to look like world beaters. Last week they had wins over Blaine and Champlin Park (twice) and that is good enough to earn the #2 seed. But last year, Centennial faded as the year ended.

Blaine takes the #3 seed although the Rebels can let out a holler over that choice and the Royals can issue a condemnation in protest. With less than a month to go the D10 playoffs are looking tough.

District 11 - Cloquet and Duluth East travel south this week. Cloquet plays D2 teams Roseville and Mounds View and plays D10 Blaine. Duluth East travels to Rochester, playing the Red twice and then heads back north to Centennial before returning to the Twin Ports. Cloquet beat Proctor in their only game last week. Duluth East played the Duluth Lakers last week.

The Duluth Lakers play in the Virginia tourney. They draw Northern Lakes in their opening game of bracket play. They play Superior this week.

Hermantown had a tough tourney at St. Cloud. They lost in pool play to the Mpls Storm 5-4, lost to STMA 5-4 and tied Minnetonka 2-2 before beating Sartell 7-0 in a consolation game. The Hawks have the week off this week.

Proctor lost to Greenway 7-0 and beat Mesabi East 9-8 last week besides losing to Cloquet. This week the Rails play in the Virginia tourney and draw the Grand Forks Golden Eagles. The Golden Eagles play in the North Dakota PeeWee A league and are struggling with a 1-3-1 league record in their first five games.

At the Schwan Thanksgiving tourney, Cloquet beat Champlin Park 4-3 in a good game that showed the Lumberjacks had potential. Their swing through D2 this week will show their progress. Roseville and Mounds View have improved and both are playing near the best they have played all season. It will be a good precursor of things to come in the East Region. All that being said, Hermantown keeps the #1 seed this week.

Duluth East still claims the last win over Cloquet and takes the #2 seed. But the Hounds struggled against a Thunder Bay team two weekends ago at Thunder Bay (losing all three games). Their game with Centennial who is also playing well at this point in the season will be a good test.

West Regional (D3, D5, D6) - The gap between teams seemed to be narrowing in the West Region last week. Mpls Storm put a chink what has been a two-team race in D3. If they continue to improve, they could knock either Wayzata or OMG out of the regional in the D3 playoffs. Crow River has also become a tough team in D3. In D5, St. Cloud and STMA still look to be the best. But D5 has three seeds for the teams and MAML, River Lakes, Buffalo and Sartell are all contenders. In D6, things were quiet last week as five teams (Burnsville, Eden Prairie, Edina, Minnetonka and Prior Lake) gear up for the race to finish in the top two spots and get a first round bye in the D6 playoffs.

District 3 - D3 has that feeling of being “like a soap opera.” “As the week turns", has Wayzata lost another “unfair play” point and “OMG” did OMG lose another D3 game. Are these two teams still running away with each other? Does the Mpls Storm really have an alias called "Mpls Park?” And what about that sneaky team from shivering Crow River, they are always “under the radar.”

Wayzata and Osseo/Maple Grove are running away together. They are spending this weekend playing in the Roseau tourney. Wayzata draws Lakeville South, Warroad and East Grand Forks in pool play; OMG draws Roseau, Eden Prairie and Fargo Flyers Gold in their pool. Both teams have a clear shot to make it to championship Sunday. Wayzata had a good week, beating White Bear Lake 7-3, St. Louis Park 8-0 in a D3 game and Edina 4-3. OMG had a tough week, losing to the 99 Fire 4-1 and to Prior Lake 7-2. They beat Spring Lake Park 5-0 and Crow River in a D3 game 6-0.

Both teams have run away with the D3 title between them. The game between the two teams on Jan. 30, at the PIC will decide the team that gets the title. But the two regional seeds are up for grabs.

Mpls Storm (or probably better known by their alias Mpls Park) played in the St. Cloud tourney. They beat Hermantown 5-4 and tied Minnetonka 3-3 in their first two pool games and needed to beat STMA to advance to the championship round. The Storm lost 4-1 and then lost a consolation match 4-0 to Rogers. Still they are an improving team.

Tied with the Storm in D3 for third place are Armstrong and Crow River. The Tigers took second place at the New Ulm tourney over the weekend. They beat Apple Valley 3-2 and Austin to get to the championship round. In the semifinals, Crow River beat Dodge County 8-0 before losing the championship to Sibley 5-3.

Armstrong played in the Governor’s Cup over the weekend. They beat Coon Rapids 6-1, lost to Mounds View 2-1 and beat Irondale 7-2 for the third place. They play three D3 games this week, Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Wayzata.

Mound Westonka played at Rochester. In pool play the Whitehawks beat Quad City 4-0, lost to Rochester Red 7-1 and lost to Owatonna 3-1. They beat Rochester Black 4-0 in a Sunday consolation game. St. Louis Park played at New Ulm also. In pool play, the Orioles lost to New Ulm 5-3 and beat Redwood Falls 8-3. They beat St. Francis 5-0 in a consolation game.

The Armstrong/St. Louis Park game on Saturday is part of a St. Louis Park hockey weekend tied in with other activities and a high school game between Park and their archrivals, Hopkins. The PeeWee Orioles play another D3 game against Crow River this week.

The Mpls Storm continued to show improvement at the Geyer Tourney and could be a threat to beat Wayzata or OMG at playoff time. OMG continued to struggle this past week, but against good teams. Nothing changes this week and despite OMG and Wayzata’s two-team race to the title, the seeds remain the same. Wayzata takes the #1 seed. The Storm takes the #2 seed.

District 5 - St. Cloud and STMA broke the knot in D5 last week and then both teams played in the Geyer Tourney. St. Cloud beat STMA 2-1 and added an 11-1 win over Sauk Rapids in D5 games to match Burnsville’s “perfect 30.” The Huskies won 10 of their first 10 D5 games, taking all 30 points. STMA drops to second place as the duel between the two teams continue. STMA and St. Cloud meet one more time, but the Knights will need help. They trail the Huskies by three points.

St. Cloud won their pool at the Geyer. In doing so, they edged out Burnsville. The Huskies beat Rogers 2-0, Hopkins 4-3 and tied Burnsville 2-2. They won the pool on a tiebreaker. In the championship round, they lost to Minnetonka 3-1 and beat Burnsville for third place 3-1. STMA lost to Minnetonka 4-1 in the opening game of the pool and came back to win the next two games beating Hermantown 5-4 and the Mpls Storm 4-1. The Knights lost to Bemidji 3-1 in their final tourney game.

St. Cloud is busy this week playing three D5 games (River Lakes, MAML and Sartell) and OMG. STMA plays two D5 games (Sauk Rapids and Willmar) while getting ready for a northern trip to Thief River Falls the following week.

Sartell, Buffalo, MAML and River Lakes are all in a battle for third place. With the D5 playoff draw set, all 10 D5 teams will be seeded into the playoff. The top two seeds (St. Cloud and STMA) will have a first round bye. One will play the winner of the #8/9 seed game and one will play the winner of the #7/10 seed game. Seeds 4/5 and 6/3 play each other with the winners advancing to the semifinals.

Sartell played in the Geyer tourney and lost to Andover 8-2, Bemidji 8-1 and Farmington 11-1 in pool play. The Sabres lost to Hermantown 7-0 in their final tourney game. This week they play Little Falls and Willmar besides playing a return match with St. Cloud. Sartell will host the D5 playoffs this year.

MAML beat Hutchinson 6-0, played Orono and beat Buffalo 4-3 last week. The Moose play Willmar, Litchfield, River Lakes and Sartell this week. They continue to play well and are a strong candidate to finish third in D5. The loss to MAML hurt Buffalo. The Bison had strung four D5 wins together before that loss and seemed ready to make their own run in D5.

River Lakes played in the Governor’s Cup. They lost their opening game to Mounds View 5-2, lost to Coon Rapids 3-2 and tied Johnson/Como 1-1. That was a good showing for an improving Stars team.

Willmar played three D5 games last week. They beat Sauk Rapids 5-4 and lost to Buffalo and Hutchinson 7-4. This week the Cardinals play STMA and Sartell in D5 games. Sauk Rapids lost a scoring donnybrook to Litchfield 9-7 besides losing to Willmar and St. Cloud. They play STMA and Buffalo this week. Hutchinson lost to Buffalo and MAML besides beating Willmar last week. They play Redwood Falls this week. Litchfield plays in the Fergus Falls tourney this week.

St. Cloud and STMA remain tied at the top of the D5 standings. There are no changes in the seeds. St. Cloud takes the #1 seed; STMA takes the #2 seed; and the Moose (MAML) keep the #3 seed.

District 6 - Edina, Eden Prairie and Chaska play in the Roseau tourney this week. Edina draws a tough pool. playing the top teams from D12 (Grand Rapids), D15 (Moorhead) and D2 (Stillwater). Eden Prairie plays Roseau, OMG and Fargo Flyers Gold in their pool. Chaska has Woodbury, TRF and Brainerd.

Edina stops in Bemidji to play the Lumberjacks the Thursday before the tourney. Last week, the Hornets beat Chaska 4-1 in D6 and lost to Wayzata 4-3. They play Eden Prairie in a key D6 game after they return from Roseau. Eden Prairie beat Shakopee 12-0 before leaving for Roseau.

Burnsville and Minnetonka played in the Geyer Tourney and both teams made it to the championship round. Minnetonka took second place, losing to top-rated Farmington 3-1. The Skippers got there by beating STMA 4-1, tying Mpls Storm 3-3 and tying Hermantown 2-2. Burnsville got there via wild card by beating Hopkins 5-3, Rogers 3-2 and tying St. Cloud 2-2. The Blaze lost to Farmington 2-1 in the semifinals and lost to St. Cloud in the third-place game. Minnetonka beat St. Cloud 3-1 in the semifinals.

Burnsville and Minnetonka meet on Sunday in what is a critical D6 game for both teams. In D6, teams finishing first or second get a bye in the first round of the double elimination part of the playoffs. Both Minnetonka and Burnsville are contending for first or second place (with Edina, Eden Prairie and Prior Lake). A win by the Blaze would widen their lead over the Skippers to four points (or two games if they keep their “unfair play” points) with each team having five games left to play. The Skippers play Shakopee before they play the Blaze and play Prior Lake after the Blaze this week. In the nine games the Blaze have played since losing to Rosemount on New Year’s Eve, the Blaze have amassed a 3-5-1 record.

The Edina and Eden Prairie game this week will be tense. Both teams should be tired from the trip to Roseau. The Eagles have four tough D6 games left (Edina twice, Burnsville and Chaska) and will need every point. Edina has seven games left and both the Hornets and Eagles are on track for 48 points. After this game, one will be on track for 46 points.

Prior Lake plays a tough IGH/SSP tourney on the weekend. They open bracket play against Andover. Last week, the Lakers beat OMG 7-2 and Woodbury 3-2. Jefferson played in the Rochester tourney. The Jags beat Eastview 3-2, lost to Mankato 4-2 and beat Rochester Black 12-0 in pool play. They beat Owatonna 5-0 on Sunday.

Waconia took second at the Governor’s Cup. They beat the host, Johnson/Como 4-1, Irondale 3-1 and lost to Mounds View 3-2 in the championship game. They also played Jefferson last week. Waconia has a busy week, playing Buffalo, New Ulm, Kennedy and Chaska. Shakopee plays Jefferson twice besides Minnetonka this week.

Things heat up as the top teams vie this week. But nothing has changed from last week. Eden Prairie keeps the #1 seed this week. Prior Lake keeps the #2 seed. As Burnsville and Minnetonka settles things between themselves on Sunday, Edina will challenge Eden Prairie in their key D6 game on Tuesday. But for now, the Blaze keep the #3 seed.

The Roseau tourney should prove interesting. Edina will have a tough time in their pool and Eden Prairie should fare better in their pool, but the D6 team to watch will be Chaska. The Hawks could surprise.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Another Way to Look at PeeWee A Hockey - Jan. 14

By frederick61

Sometimes as a nation, Americans wonder why things happen. And sometimes out of nowhere a simple thing can bring life back to focus. Always at the arena, look at what surrounds you. If you listen or watch, you can often find one of those simple things.

That happened last Sunday at the Coon Rapids arena. It was the first game of a tourney for that day. And a little girl, dressed in coat and hat, sat down to eat a brunch from a fast food place in the stands in front of her mother. She meticulously removed each item from the bag and set it on the empty row of seats at her mother’s feet as young hockey players took the ice amid the fans cheering and the music playing.

Her back was to the ice. The kids skated the warm-ups, the announcer called the starting players and the little girl continued to eat, oblivious to what was going on behind her and around her until the kids stood at the blue line for the national anthem and her mother stood. In the quieting arena, she stopped eating, stood up, turned to face the flag with her hand on her heart and removed her hat. She stood until the music stopped, put the hat on her head, and turned back to her food as the puck dropped and the game began. She never said a word and nobody said anything to her. She just did it.

It was a simple thing, but the little girl made me feel proud to be an American and gave me comfort knowing that there would be future proud to be an American people.

North Regional (D12, D15, D16) - Each district in this region had tourneys last week. Hibbing hosted D15 teams, D10 teams and one D8 team. IGH/SSP from D8 won the tourney, beating Irondale from D10. Brainerd had top D12 team Grand Rapids, one of the top D2 teams in Hudson, the top-ranked North Dakota team in the Grand Forks Seawolves and one of the top D10 teams in Blaine. Grand Rapids won 4-3, beating Hudson in an overtime/shootout game. Thief River Falls had an eight-team tourney that had pitted D16 teams against North Dakota, D5, D6 and Manitoba teams. The two North Dakota teams won. Mandan beat Minot Sabres 3-2.

The separation noticed last week among the 20+ teams in this regional is still there. D12 Grand Rapids, D15 Moorhead Black and Bemidji remain track and continue to improve. Thief River Falls stumbled a little, but still look strong. East Grand Forks and Roseau have improved their play. The D15 team that showed the most improvement this week was the Northern Lakes team. The #2 D15 seed is up for grabs. The two remaining D12 seeds are wide open. There are North Regional seeds available to teams that are playing at their best in a month.

District 12 - Grand Rapids continues to win. The Thunderhawks took the Brainerd Tourney championship by beating Blaine 6-5, Rochester Red 6-5 and Hudson 4-3. The semifinal and championship games were overtime/shootout affairs. Grand Rapids also beat Cloquet 5-1 and lost to Bemidji 4-3 last week. This week the Thunderhawks play Virginia and Greenway in D12 games.

Hibbing hosted their PeeWee A tourney last weekend. In pool play, the Bluejackets beat Eveleth and Moorhead Orange 10-0, and lost to Irondale 5-4. In the third-place game on Sunday, the Bluejackets lost Princeton 2-1 in OT. Eveleth and Greenway also played at the Hibbing tourney. The Golden Bears lost to Irondale 12-1, Moorhead Orange and Hibbing in pool play. Greenway lost to Princeton 4-0 and Inver Grove Heights/South St. Paul 6-1 in pool play. IGH/SSP won the championship.

Virginia lost to Hermantown 9-1, tied Proctor 3-3, and played Mesabi East last week. This week the Blue Devils play Eveleth and Grand Rapids in D12 games. International Falls crossed the bridge to Fort Frances to play in their tourney last weekend. This week the Broncos play at Hibbing and entertain Eveleth. Mesabi East played in the Little Falls tourney last weekend and lost a close game to Northern Lakes 4-3. They also played Little Falls and Shakopee. The Giants are busy this week playing Superior, Virginia, Proctor and Hibbing.

Grand Rapids remains on top in D12 and takes the #1 seed to the North Regional this week. Hibbing pushed Irondale and Princeton, losing both games a single goal. The Bluejackets take the #2 seed. International Falls takes the #3 seed, but both Virginia and Greenway will challenge for a seed if they continue to improve. Mesabi East has shown improvement.

District 15 - Moorhead Black plays two games this week against D15 rivals Alexandria and Fergus Falls. Last week the Black played East Grand Forks and the Fargo Flyers. Moorhead Orange has three D15 games this week, playing Little Falls, Northern Lakes and Brainerd. Last week the Orange played in the Hibbing tourney, losing to Irondale 3-2, Hibbing 10-0 and played Eveleth in pool play.

Detroit Lakes also played at Hibbing. In pool play the Lakers lost to IGH/SSP 10-3, lost to Princeton 3-0 and played Greenway. The Lakers play Brainerd and the Fargo Angels this week. Brainerd hosted a tough tourney this week. They lost their opening game to Hudson 2-0 (Hudson currently is tied with Roseville atop D2), beat Eagan 5-2 and lost to Blaine 6-1 in the consolation championship game. Northern Lakes lost to Brainerd just after the New Year 3-2 in OT. Northern Lakes played in the Little Falls tourney. In tourney action, the Lightning tied Shakopee 4-4, beat Mesabi East 4-3 and beat Little Falls 3-2.

Alexandria started the New Year with a nice 5-0 win over Brainerd and then last week traveled to play in Anoka’s tourney. The Cardinals lost 7-0 to a tough Stillwater team in their opening game. They came back to play a good Mahtomedi close before losing 2-1. They ended their tourney playing St. Louis Park. The Cardinals play Fergus Falls besides playing Moorhead Black this week.

Fergus Falls played in the Thief River Falls tourney over the weekend. The Otters lost to TRF 6-2, lost to the Minot Sabres and played Warroad. This week they play Alexandria and the Fargo Flyers.

Fergus Falls, Brainerd and Alexandria are locked in a struggle for second place in D15 behind Moorhead Black. The Black and Brainerd keep their seeds this week. The Black takes the #1 seed and the Warriors take the #2 seed.

District 16 - Thief River Falls hosted their tourney this week. The Prowlers beat Warroad 10-2, lost to Minot Sabres, beat Fergus Falls 6-2 and lost to Roseau 7-4 in the third-place game. They also beat Crookston 7-1 last week in D16 action. The Prowlers play Crookston and Roseau again this week as they get ready to play in the Rams' tourney in 10 days.

Bemidji lost a tough game in the championship game of their own tourney New Year’s weekend, but didn’t hesitate getting “back on the horse” or “out in the woods” (if you are a Lumberjack). The Lumberjacks played two tough teams last week, beating Grand Rapids 4-3 and East Grand Forks 5-3. This week, it doesn’t get any better when they head to St. Cloud to play in the Geyer Tourney. They draw Farmington in the opener in what is probably the best game this week. They also play Sartell and Andover in pool play.

The Prowlers and the Lumberjacks are tied for first in D16 as the season winds down. TRF has four games left, Bemidji has five games. The Prowlers need to beat the Lumberjacks when they meet at the end of January and they will need help from another D16 team to take the D16 title this year.

Roseau beat MAML 8-5 and tied Mandan (ND) 2-2 and Beausejour (Manitoba) 1-1 in their pool play at Thief River Falls. The Rams play Grafton (ND) and Red Lake Falls this week besides hosting TRF. Red Lake Falls has a busy week. playing four D16 games (Crookston, Warroad and EGF, besides Roseau). East Grand Forks plays Warroad and Fargo Gold in addition to the Falls. The Rams and the Green Wave are in a battle for third place in D16 as the season enters the last month of play.

Bemidji takes the #1 seed this week. They scored two impressive wins last week. Thief River Falls takes the #2 seed this week. Despite not losing a D16 game in December, the Prowlers are starting to struggle. But TRF will have their chances for revenge when the play the Rams this week in D16 action. As the season winds down, the difference between teams can narrow; that is what happened with East Grand Forks and Roseau. The Green Wave lost to Bemidji and the Rams beat TRF in their tourney. It makes the #3 seed a tough decision, but not enough to pull out the old zinc penny. EGF keeps the #3 seed.

South Regional (D4, D8, D9) - The headlines died down this week. Farmington beat Wayzata 5-3 for the second time in a week and then beat Burnsville 7-3. With all the snow on the ground, it is appropriate to declare the Tigers “King of the Hill.” With that title, Tiger wins are now expected to mount. One of the reasons for the Tigers' anointment is the 3-2 loss Rosemount took in the championship game at Anoka.

D4 has allocated one of its seeds to D8/D9. D8 and D9 each have three seeds and D4 had two. District 9 playoffs will be a double elimination tourney starting Thursday, Feb. 17, and will finish the following Sunday, Feb. 20. District 8 playoffs will begin Sunday, Feb. 20. The fourth-place finishers in both tourneys will meet for a play-in game to the South Regional. The D8 fourth place finisher will be decided around 1:00 p.m., Feb. 27. The site of the play-in game is unknown.

District 4 - Luverne took the lead in the D9 West last week by beating Albert Lea 14-4 and New Ulm 9-2. This week the Cardinals host Faribault. The Cardinals' lead in the West is challenged by Owatonna and Mankato. A win over Faribault this week will eliminate the Huskies. They could not catch Luverne. It also sets up the Jan. 30, game in Mankato as the regular season championship game.

Redwood Falls had their tourney last week. River Lakes, Willmar and Marshall entered. Redwood Falls lost to River Lakes 5-3, Willmar 5-1, and played Marshall. This week, RWF travels to New Ulm for their tourney. They play New Ulm and St. Louis Park in pool play. Marshall lost to River Lakes 4-0 and beat Willmar 5-3 in the RWF tourney last week. They also play at New Ulm and draw Sibley and St. Francis in pool play.

Luverne remains the favorite to take the lone D4 seed to the South Regional.

District 8 - Despite Rosemount’s loss at Anoka, the Irish remain undefeated and in a tie with Farmington for first in D8. At Anoka, the Irish got to the finals by beating two D2 teams, Mahtomedi 7-0 and Stillwater 5-0. The Irish return to D8 action this week playing Hastings and Lakeville North. They also have a return match with Edina.

Farmington sandwiched a 6-0 D8 win over Apple Valley between their wins over Wayzata and Burnsville last week. This week Farmington heads to St. Cloud to play in their tourney. They open pool play against Bemidji and then play Andover and Sartell.

Lakeville North, as predicted, has quietly been winning their D8 games. Last week, the Panthers won two more D8 games, beating Sibley 7-0 and Eagan 3-0 to avenge their only D8 loss. They did lose to Prior Lake 7-4. The Panthers play in Fargo’s tourney this week and return home to play Rosemount. They open play against the Dakota Lazers. If the Panthers make it to the semifinals, they could end up playing the Wayzata Blue B1 team.

Until this week, Lakeville South has matched the Panthers D8 win for D8 win with the only Cougar D8 loss being to the Panthers 3-2. South won four times last week, beating Sibley 7-0 and Hastings 8-1 in D8 play and beating Owatonna 10-3 and Armstrong 8-3. But they lost a key D8 game to Woodbury 5-0. The Cougars have a single D8 game this week against Eagan.

Woodbury showed significant improvement in their win over Lakeville South. The Predators also played a weekend series with St. Cloud last week, winning the first game 6-4 and tying the second 1-1. This week, they play Prior Lake and Rochester Red.

Inver Grove Heights/South St. Paul won the Hibbing tourney. They beat Detroit Lakes 10-3, Princeton 4-1 and Greenway 6-1 in pool play. In the championship game, IGH/SSP beat Irondale 2-1. This week they play two D8 games with Hastings. Eastview tied Inver Grove Heights/South St. Paul last week. The Lightning play Sibley this week and then travel to Rochester to play in their tourney. They draw the Rochester Black, Mankato, and Jefferson in pool play.

Johnson/Como played in the Northfield Showdown tourney. They beat Northfield 4-2, lost to Tartan 7-2 and beat Austin 8-2 for third place. Eagan played in Brainerd’s tourney, losing to the Grand Forks Seawolves 6-0, Brainerd 5-2 and played the Duluth Lakers. The Wildcats play Lakeville South, Moundsview and Apple Valley this week.

Johnson/Como hosts the Governor’s Cup tourney this week. They open play against Waconia. Irondale plays Kennedy in the other bracket game. Armstrong plays Coon Rapids and Mounds View plays River Lakes in the upper bracket.

Sibley and Apple Valley travel to New Ulm to play in their tourney. Sibley plays Marshall and Dodge County in pool play on Saturday. Apple Valley plays Crow River and Austin. Hastings plays Rosemount besides the two games with IGH/SSP this week.

Farmington and Rosemount are on track to finish the D8 league play with 45 points. Woodbury is on track to finish with around 40 points. Lakeville South and Lakeville North look to finish around 35 points. Eastview, Sibley, IGH/SSP and Hastings can finish around 30 points. But not all of the teams will since they play each other.

The IGH/SSP games with Hastings this week will be key games for both teams. The teams that can finish with around 30 points will take the #6 and #7 seeds into the D8 playoffs and have a better chance to make it to the final game for the third seed on Feb. 27, and a guaranteed ticket to the Regional or to the Regional play-in game. The loser of that game plays in a play-in game for the South Regional against the fourth-place D9 team that could be Dodge County or New Ulm or Austin, D9 teams playing at New Ulm. That is what makes the New Ulm tourney interesting this week.

Both Rosemount and Farmington will be playing more D8 games in the next few weeks. So anything can happen. But right now the D8 race is headed to that showdown game Feb. 12, at Rosemount.

The seeds this week are changed. Farmington beat two good teams last week, and the Irish faltered at Anoka. Farmington takes the top seed. The #2 seed goes to Rosemount. The #3 seed remains with Woodbury. The play-in game seed goes to Lakeville South by virtue of stringing four wins together last week. The Cougars played tough in losing to an improving Woodbury team.

District 9 - Things were disappointing for D9 teams playing in the Northfield tourney. Of the four teams entered, only Austin advanced past the quarterfinal round of bracket play. Northfield lost to Johnson/Como 4-2, lost to Faribault 3-2 and beat a shorthanded Red Wing team (missing four players) 6-1. Faribault lost their first game to Tartan 8-0 and went on take the Consolation Championship beating Fremont Nebraska 4-2. Austin beat Fremont 6-3, lost to Orono 10-1 and Johnson/Como 8-2 in the third-place game. Northfield returns to D9 action playing Red Wing this week. Faribault plays Luverne and Albert Lea.

Rochester Black had a rough week, losing three D9 games. The Black lost to Mankato 7-4, Dodge County 4-3 and Austin 1-0. That ended their title hopes in the D9 East. They trail Northfield in the standings by four points with three games to go. Last week, they also tied Rochester Gold.

But the Black remain in the middle of the chase for second place. They play Red Wing in D9 this week and then join the Rochester Gold and Rochester Red teams in hosting Rochester’s PeeWee A tourney. Each team has their own pool. The Black draw Eastview, Mankato and Jefferson in pool play; the Gold draw Albert Lea, Champlin Park and Centennial; and the Red draw Quad City, Mound Westonka and Owatonna.

Rochester Gold, besides tying the Black, tied Dodge County 5-5 and lost to Owatonna 7-3. Rochester Red, playing an independent schedule and no D9 games, played at Brainerd, beating the Duluth Lakers 7-2, losing to Grand Rapids 6-5 in an overtime/shootout game, and losing to the top rated (North Dakota) Grand Forks Seawolves 4-1 in the third-place game. In addition to playing in their tourney, the Red hosts Woodbury this week.

Dodge County and Austin play in the New Ulm tourney this week. Dodge County plays St. Francis and Sibley in pool play; the Packers play Crow River and Apple Valley.

Red Wing has a better record in the D9 East than every team except Northfield, but has lost five of their nine “unfairplay” points to lock the Wingers into a battle for second.

Luverne is a D4 team playing as a guest in D9. The Cardinals lead In the D9 West but are playing in the D4 playoffs. Owatonna and Mankato are in a battle for the West #1 seed to the D9 playoffs. The Mavericks have the advantage (playing three less games). New Ulm looks to have the third spot with Albert Lea and Faribault fighting it out for fourth or fifth.

Owatonna beat Rochester Gold last week. They have two D9 games left (Rochester Gold and Faribault). Owatonna heads down Highway 14 to Rochester this weekend to play in their tourney. They draw Rochester Red, Quad City and Mound Westonka in pool play. Mankato joins the Huskies in Rochester, they draw Rochester Black, Eastview and Jefferson in pool play. Albert Lea heads to Rochester this weekend. The Tigers play Champlin Park, Centennial, and the Rochester Gold in pool play.

New Ulm hosts a 10-team tourney this week. They have two D4 teams (Marshall and Redwood Falls), two D8 teams (Sibley and Apple Valley), two D3 teams (Crow River and St. Louis Park) and one D10 team (St. Francis) joining three D9 teams (New Ulm, Austin and Dodge County). One of the D8 and one of the D9 teams could end up playing each other in a play-in game to the South Regional at the end of February. New Ulm draws St. Louis Park and Redwood Falls in pool play.

The Northfield tourney results did not change the status quo. Mankato keeps the #1 seed this week, but the Rochester tourney is played this week and the Mavericks will be tested there. Northfield lost two tough games in their tourney, but solidified their lead in the D9 East and moves up to the #2 seed this week. Rochester Black falls. They had a tough week and it will get tougher in their own tourney. They and Mankato are “taking the same test” playing the same teams and then each other. But this week, Owatonna takes the #3 seed. The Huskies have strung six wins in a row against D9 teams.

East Regional (D2, D10, D11) - In D2, Roseville still leads and eventually Stillwater will report its won games to D2 and be tied with the Raiders. But D2 is a scramble. D10 and D11 are no better this week. In D10, Elk River lost two games and turned a runaway into a five-team battle for the three seeds with Blaine, Champlin Park, Rogers and Centennial. In D11, Cloquet stumbled over the Duluth East Hounds and the Hermantown Hawks didn’t.

Result is, it is now harder to figure out the stronger East Regional teams. It is like the East Regional teams were thrown into a bag, shaken up and thrown out on the table last week.

District 2 - After taking a week off, Roseville beat White Bear Lake 5-2 last week in their only game. The D2 win keeps the Raiders on top of D2 tied with Stillwater (Stillwater does not report their wins until weeks after the game is played). Each team has six D2 games left. These two teams are in a battle with Hudson for the championship. The D2 championship could be decided when Hudson, Stillwater and Roseville meet at the end of the month and the first week in February. This week Roseville plays Highland and Forest Lake in D2 games.

Hudson had a “Grand” time at Brainerd last week. The Raiders beat the host Warriors 2-0 in the opening game. In the semifinals, the Raiders beat #1 rated (in North Dakota) Grand Forks Seawolves 3-2 in an overtime/shootout to make it to the championship game against Grand Rapids. Hudson lost that game 2-1 in another overtime/shootout. They return to D2 action this week playing White Bear Lake.

White Bear Lake lost to Centennial 5-2, Eden Prairie 5-2 and Wayzata 7-2 last week. But the Bears' loss to Roseville last week hurt. It was their fifth D2 loss and drops them behind Forest Lake and Stillwater in the D2 standings. The Bears play Hudson and Tartan this week, both teams capable of beating the Bears.

Tartan looked strong in the Northfield tourney. They won the tournament, beating Faribault 8-0, Johnson/Como 6-2 and Orono 6-3 in the championship game. This week the Titans play Forest Lake in addition White Bear Lake in D2 games. Forest Lake played at Anoka. They won the opening game, beating Buffalo. The Rangers lost a tough game to host Anoka 3-1 and lost the third-place game to D2 rival Stillwater.

Stillwater beat Alexandria 7-0 in the opening game at Anoka, then the Ponies lost to Rosemount 5-0 before beating Forest Lake 5-0 for third place. Mahtomedi also played in the Anoka tourney. The Zephyrs lost to Rosemount 7-0, beat Alexandria 2-1 and beat Buffalo 5-1 for the consolation title. After a week off, Mounds View returns to play in the Govenor’s Cup. The Mustangs draw River Lakes in the opener. Highland plays Chaska and Wausau this week in addition to D2 games with Forest Lake and Roseville. They played Kennedy and Hastings last week.

Roseville keeps winning and the Raiders keep the #1 seed. Both Stillwater and Forest Lake were challenged at the Anoka tourney and they ended up playing each other for third place, and White Bear lost all four games this week. That made it easy this week to pick the #2 and #3 seeds. Stillwater gets the #2 seed and Forest Lake the #3 seed.

District 10 - Over the holidays, Elk River strung six D10 wins together and were positioned to lock up the D10 title, playing four more D10 games last week. The Elks went 2-2 in those four games, beating Coon Rapids 8-1 and Champlin Park 3-0; losing to Centennial 4-2 and Blaine 4-2. That dragged the Elks back in the fight. Now D10 has five teams contending for the title. Princeton is by itself in the standings and not likely to catch any of the top five teams and not likely to fall lower in the standings. Four teams (Anoka, Andover, Spring Lake Park and Irondale) are fighting for the remaining two district playoff spots.

The D10 leader is Champlin Park. The Rebels lead by five points, but has played two more games than Blaine, Elk River and Centennial. Rogers is trailing by seven points and has played one less game then the Rebels. The Rebels took first from the Elks by beating Princeton 2-0, Spring Lake Park 3-1, St. Francis 10-0 and Rogers 4-1 last week. This week, Champlin Park plays in Rochester’s tourney, playing Rochester Gold, Albert Lea and D10 rival and one of the second place teams, Centennial in pool play. The Rebels return from Rochester to play Andover in a D10 game.

Centennial plays Blaine and then heads to Rochester. They return home to play Anoka. Besides beating Elk River last week, Centennial beat Coon Rapids 3-1. Elk River continues their intense D10 schedule, playing four more games this week. The Elks play Andover, Princeton, Spring Lake Park and St. Francis. After this week, the Elks will have played 14 of their 22 game D10 schedule in four weeks.

Anoka had a great tourney last weekend. They beat St. Louis Park 5-0, Forest Lake 3-1 and upset top-rated Rosemount 3-2 in the championship game. Anoka is a tough tourney team. The Tornadoes travel this week, playing D10 games against Spring Lake Park, Irondale and Centennial.

Blaine beat Elk River and then tied Andover 2-2 last week before traveling to Brainerd. The Bengals ran into a tough Grand Rapids team, losing the opening game 6-5, but came back to beat the Duluth Lakers 4-2 and Brainerd 6-1 to take the consolation title. They returned to play Irondale. This week they play Centennial and Princeton in D10 action.

Rogers plays in the Geyer Tourney at St. Cloud. They draw host St. Cloud, Burnsville and Hopkins in pool play. Rogers beat Andover last week 4-2 besides losing to Centennial.

Princeton played in the Hibbing tourney last week. The Tigers beat Greenway 4-0 and Detroit Lakes 3-0, and lost to IGH/SSP 4-1 in pool play. In the third-place game, Princeton beat Hibbing 2-1 in overtime. Princeton is alone in the middle of the D10 standings and should make the D10 playoffs.

Irondale played at Hibbing also. In pool play, the Knights beat Moorhead Orange 3-2, Eveleth 12-1 and Hibbing 5-4. They lost the championship game to IGH/SSP 2-1. Irondale is in a battle in D10 for the last two playoff spots with Andover, Anoka and Spring Lake Park and have key games with Anoka and Spring Lake Park this week.

Spring Lake Park plays Anoka and Elk River also. The Panthers won the New Richmond tourney last weekend. They beat New Richmond 8-1, Verona 4-2 and Somerset 8-3 in the championship game. Andover travels to St. Cloud to play in the Geyer. They play Sartell, Farmington and Bemidji in pool play.

St. Francis plays in the New Ulm tourney and draws Dodge County and Marshall in pool play. Coon Rapids plays in the Governor’s Cup and draws Armstrong in the opening game of bracket play.

Last week, Elk River took the #1 seed and it looked like they would keep it the rest of the year. Blaine and Centennial beat the Elks last week. One of those two teams has to take the #1 seed this week. Coin flips and paper bags don’t help in D10 this year. So it is go by the book this week. Champlin Park is in first place this week, they get the #1 seed. Blaine, Elk River and Rogers are tied for second but the Elks beat Rogers last week and Blaine beat Elk River last week. Blaine takes the #2 seed. Anoka’s win over Rosemount was a great end to their tourney. The Tornadoes take the #3 seed. Centennial, Rogers and Elk River deserve to be one of the three, but three teams have to be out. The pool game in Rochester between Centennial and Champlin Park could decide who’s in next week.

District 11 - Cloquet had a tough week, losing to Grand Rapids 5-2 and Duluth East 4-3. The Lumberjacks play Proctor in their lone game this week. Hermantown beat Duluth East 12-0, Virginia 9-1 and Andover 5-0, and played the Duluth Lakers last week. This week the Hawks head for the Geyer in St. Cloud. They draw Mpls Storm, STMA and Minnetonka in pool play.

After losing to Hermantown, Duluth East traveled to Thunder Bay to play a three-game series with the Kings on the weekend. The Hounds lost all three games; 5-3, 6-3 and 4-2. This week Duluth East play the Duluth Lakers. The Lakers played at Brainerd last week. They lost to Rochester Red 4-2 in the opening game of bracket play, lost to Blaine 4-2 and played Eagan. Proctor tied Virginia 3-3 last week in the Rails only game. This week, the Rails are busy. They play Superior in D11 action, Cloquet, Greenway, and Grand Forks.

Hermantown takes the #1 seed this week. Duluth East beat Cloquet and takes the #2 seed.

West Regional (D3, D5, D6) - The teams are narrowing in the West more than in any other Regional. In D3, both Wayzata and OMG took hits that slowed their race to run away from the rest of the D3 teams. The Mpls Storm was the principle culprit, tying Wayzata and beating OMG. In D5, the scores are tightening, but St Cloud and STMA are still locked in a two way neck and neck battle for first. In D6, Burnsville is hanging on, but what was once a Burnsville runaway, is now a five-team fight to the finish.

District 3 - Before last week, Wayzata and Osseo/Maple Grove were running away from the rest of D3. Both were slowed by Mpls Storm. The Storm tied Wayzata 0-0 and beat OMG 4-2. The tie and loss narrowed the gap between Wayzata/OMG and the rest of D3, giving hope not only to the Storm, but to Armstrong and Crow River.

Wayzata completed a busy week by losing to Farmington 5-3, and beating Crow River 6-3, White Bear Lake 7-3 and St. Louis Park 8-0. The Trojans play Edina this week. OMG also had a busy week. They beat Hopkins 3-1, lost to Edina 7-0, lost to the Wisconsin Fire 4-1 and beat Spring Lake Park 5-0 last week in addition losing to the Storm. OMG plays Crow River and Prior Lake this week.

The Storm play in St. Cloud this week at the Geyer tourney. They draw Hermantown, Minnetonka and STMA in pool play. They beat Armstrong 7-2 last week to add to their win over OMG and their tie with Wayzata.

Hopkins plays in the Geyer also. In pool play the Royals draw Burnsville, St. Cloud and Bemidji. The Royals lost to Waconia last week 5-1 and tied Orono 5-5. Orono plays Shakopee and Crow River this week. Orono took second place at Northfield, beating a shorthanded Red Wing team 12-0 and beating Austin 10-1 before losing to Tartan 6-3 in the championship game.

Mound Westonka plays in Rochester on the weekend. They draw Rochester Red, Quad City and Owatonna in pool play. The Whitehawks lost to Crow River 5-0 last week.

Armstrong plays in the Governor’s Cup. They play Coon Rapids in the opening of bracket play. Crow River plays OMG and then play in the New Ulm this weekend. They play Apple Valley and Austin in pool play. Armstrong beat Orono 7-1 in D3 action last week. St. Louis Park played in the Anoka tourney last weekend, losing to the host 5-0, losing to Buffalo and playing Alexandria. This week the Orioles play in the New Ulm tourney. They draw New Ulm and Redwood Falls in pool play.

Wayzata and OMG remain neck and neck for the stretch run, but the Mpls Storm has found the center of the track and is in a wide open run to the finish. In the Storm’s remaining seven D3 games, they do not play either Wayzata or OMG. Wayzata takes the #1 seed. The Storm take the #2 seed with their win over OMG. OMG takes the #3 seed.

District 5 - St. Cloud and STMA have been knotted all season on top of D5. This week they finally meet and one of them will take their first D5 loss. But it will not be over; both teams meet again on Feb. 11. St. Cloud hosts the 12-team Geyer tourney that includes top-rated Farmington and Burnsville this weekend. St. Cloud draws Rogers, Hopkins and Burnsville in pool play. Last week, they beat Sauk Rapids 11-1 in a D5 game and lost to Woodbury 6-4 and tied Woodbury 1-1.

STMA is also playing in the Geyer. They draw Minnetonka, Hermantown and Mpls Storm in pool play. STMA added three more D5 wins to their total, beating Litchfield 7-0, Sartell 9-1 and MAML 3-0.

MAML played in the Thief River Falls tourney last weekend. In pool play the Moose lost to Roseau 8-5, lost to Mandan 3-1 and played Beausejour. They play Hutchinson and Buffalo in D5 games and Orono this week. The Moose loss to STMA was just their second D5 loss this year.

Third-place Sartell plays in the Geyer on the weekend. The Sabres draw Farmington, Bemidji and Andover in pool play. Buffalo played at Anoka, losing to Forest Lake in the opening game, beating St. Louis Park, and losing to Mahtomedi 5-1 in the consolation semifinals.

Last weekend, River Lakes won the Redwood Falls tourney, tying Willmar 2-2 and beating Marshall 4-0, Redwood Falls 5-3 and Willmar 4-1. The Stars tied Litchfield 2-2 in a D5 game before the tourney and beat Litchfield 4-3 after the tourney. The Stars have improved and will be tested this week when they play in the Governor’s Cup. River Lakes opens bracket play against Mounds View.

Willmar played in the RWF tourney. After tying River Lakes in the opener, the Cardinals beat RWF 5-1, lost to Marshall 4-3 and lost to River Lakes 4-1. Willmar plays Buffalo, Sauk Rapids and Hutchinson in D5 games this week. Hutchinson beat Sauk Rapids 5-3 and lost to Buffalo 3-1 last week. The Tigers play MAML and Willmar this week.

St. Cloud and STMA remain tied at the top of the D5 standings. There are no changes in the seeds. St. Cloud takes the #1 seed; STMA takes the #2 seed; and the Moose (MAML) keeps the #3 seed.

District 6 - After a tough stretch of 12 games in 18 days, Burnsville played only a single game last week. But it was a tough one as the Blaze lost 7-3 to Farmington. This weekend, they travel to St. Cloud to play in the Geyer. In pool play, Burnsville draws Rogers, Hopkins and St. Cloud. Joining the Blaze in St. Cloud will be Minnetonka. The Skippers doused the Blaze with cold water a week ago, handing Burnsville their first D6 loss. They draw Hermantown, STMA and the Mpls Storm in pool play. These two teams could play each other in the championship round at the Geyer and then play a key D6 return match the following Sunday at Burnsville.

Minnetonka beat Chaska 6-2 last week in their only D6 game. Eden Prairie beat Prior Lake 4-3 in another key D6 game this week. The loss hurts the Lakers but if they can win two of their three tough games left, they could still contend. Eden Prairie needed that win. The Eagles have five games left and play Edina twice and Burnsville once.

Edina beat Jefferson 8-0 in their only D6 game last week. They beat OMG 7-0 and played Rosemount. This week, the Hornets play a single D6 game against Chaska.

If each of the top five D6 teams could win every point, Burnsville would set the mark with 50 points, Minnetonka would have 49, Eden Prairie 48, Edina 47 and Prior Lake 43. But they can’t because they play each other often in this last month of regular season. Burnsville and Minnetonka each has four games or eight points in jeopardy; Eden Prairie has three of their five remaining games or six points in jeopardy; Edina has five games or 10 points in jeopardy; and Prior Lake has three games or six points in jeopardy.

So pick a scenario. If Prior Lake beats Tonka twice, Tonka’s point total would drop to 45. The Lakers would still need help and would still have to beat Burnsville to get their 43 (and Burnsville’s total would drop to 48). But the Lakers would be in the mix and contending in the last week of play. If Edina loses just two of their five tough games, their point total drops to 43. Remember, Eden Prairie and Edina play each other twice. If either team wins both games, the other team is out of contention. If they split those games, then they are both hurt, but still contending.

It will be a wild last month in D6. Meanwhile, there is little separation in the bottom five D6 teams. What is at stake is the last seed to the double elimination part of the district playoffs. The bottom five teams will be seeded in a single elimination tourney. The #6 team will play the winner of the #9/#10 seed game. The #7 seed will play the #8 seed. The winners advance and the losers go home with the winner of the single elimination claiming the #6 seed in the tourney.

Of the lower five teams, Chaska has looked the strongest in games played in the last month and have a record of playing strong at the end of the year. Chaska plays Edina in their only D6 game this week. Jefferson will test itself this weekend, playing at Rochester. The Jags draw Mankato, Eastview and Rochester Black in pool play. Kennedy and Waconia are playing in the Govenor’s Cup. They play in the same bracket. Kennedy draws Irondale and Waconia draws host Johnson/Como. Shakopee plays Orono and Eden Prairie this week. The Sabres played in the Little Falls tourney last week.

Prior Lake took the #1 seed last week and lost to Eden Prairie. That win put the Eagles in first place and ended Burnsville’s season-long hold on the top spot. Eden Prairie takes the #1 seed this week. Minnetonka, Burnsville and Edina played a minimum schedules last week. Prior Lake takes the #2 seed. Burnsville and Minnetonka will settle things between themselves over the next eight days, but for now the Blaze take the #3 seed. Edina is still lurking and should be making a move. They have the Roseau tourney in 10 days.