Boys State Hockey Predictions
March 8, 2022
The historic state hockey tournament
The Minnesota High School State Hockey Tournament was originally founded in 1900 and was moved to the Xcel Energy Center in 2001. As the years went on, the tournament (or “tourney”, as many Minnesotans refer to it) has become widely anticipated across the state’s hockey fans. The tourney has been known to sell out crowds of over 18,000 during its championship game featuring the state’s best. We previewed the teams to predict who will take it all home this year for Class A and Class AA.
We listed teams in order of elimination, starting with first to be eliminated and ending with the championship teams.
Class AA Predictions
The Spuds are led by Mr. Hockey Finalist senior Gavin Lindberg and fellow seniors Harper Bentz and Carson Triggs. The Spuds are an offensively loaded team with a powerhouse first line consisting of Lindberg, Bentz, and Triggs, all tallying over 50 points on the season, with Lindberg and Bentz both scoring 64. The Spuds finished with an overall record of 21-6-1 despite their average of a two point goal differential, which is the lowest in the tournament. The Spuds have the firepower to put teams away and were given the fourth seed in the tournament. They are set to face the fifth seeded team, Andover.
We believe Moorhead’s top line will only allow them to hang in with Andover’s depth for so long, resulting in a first round exit in what is likely to be a high scoring affair between the two teams.
The Cougars have made it back to the Xcel Energy Center after a disappointing loss in the 2021 State Championship game. Returning this year is a powerful lineup of juniors, including leading scorer Tanner Ludke and other notable players Aidan Willis, Ashton Dhams, and goaltender Jack Hoachsprung. They average 4.96 goals a game with a near four point goal differential as well as sound goaltending from Ashton Dhams, mounting a .931 save percentage and 1.35 goal against average. The Cougars were given an unranked random draw and are set to face number one seeded Hill-Murray.
We believe the Cougars will give their best stab at Hill-Murray, yet will come short in the first round with a lack of overall depth and talent in comparison to their opponent.
Led by juniors Landen Gunderson, Finn Brink, and senior Josh Guliani, The Crimson look to win a title after being sent home in the semifinals last year. Maple Grove is an offensive threat of a team, averaging 5.18 goals per game, with scoring led by Landen Gunderson and Finn Brink. Gunderson and Brink have scored 19 and 26 goals this season. With six players over the 20 point mark, the Crimson are set to face off against Edina as the number three seed in the tournament.
Although the Crimson are the number three seeded team in the tournament and set to go up against the unranked Edina team, we believe that they will fall to the Hornets. The Hornets’ success in section 6AA was nothing but impressive and Maple Grove will not be able to counter Edina’s style of play.
Led by Mr. Hockey Finalist senior Drew Fisher and younger brother junior Jake Fisher, the Raiders play a faced paced offensive game. The Raiders have an overall record of 24-3 heading to the state tournament with both Fisher brothers tallying over 50 points. Also securing a backbone in between the pipes is senior goaltender Marko Belak with a .938 save percentage and a 1.57 goals against average. The Raiders received the number 2 seed and are set to face Prior Lake.
The Raiders had an impressive regular season, but because of a severe lack of competition in comparison to other teams in the tournament, they arguably had the easiest road to state. We predict that the late season success and fire power of Prior Lake will shock the Raiders. For this reason we believe that Prior Lake will upset number two seeded Cretin Derham Hall.
Ranked #1 in the preseason by “Lets Play Hockey,” Andover has risen to the occasion and punched their ticket to the Xcel Energy Center. Led by seniors Gavyn Thoreson, Cayden Casey, and Weston Knox, the Huskies show the most depth out of any other roster in the tournament and seem to excel on all 200 feet of the ice. Finishing with a 22-5 overall record heading into the state tournament, the Huskies seem to have all the tools to get the job done and are set to face number four ranked Moorhead as the number five seed in the tournament.
We believe the Huskies have a favorable first round matchup against Moorhead, as their depth and ability to control play on both ends of the ice clashes well with a high octane offensive team.
Next, the Huskies are set to play the winner of Hill Murray vs. Lakeville South. We predict Hill Murray to be victorious. Unlike their first round matchup, the Pioneers are well equipped to counter the Huskies’ 200 foot playstyle with a great defensive core and will fall short against Hill Murray in what we believe to be a defensive battle and low scoring affair.
Led by seniors Wyatt Wurst, AJ Doll, and Trae Fetchko alongside junior Jimmy Clark, the Hornets were able to make it out of the very difficult 6AA section. Finishing with an overall record of 20-8, the Hornets are nothing to mess around with. They have a somewhat even distribution of goal scoring including leader Tre Fetcko with 20, Jimmy Clark with 15, and a total average of 3.86 goals per game. The Hornets received an unranked random draw in the state tournament and are set to face off against number three ranked Maple Grove.
We believe that the Hornets will be able to slightly edge out their first round opponent Maple Grove. Due to their success in section 6AA and shutting out all three of their section opponents, there seems to be no slowing down now. They would then face the winner of Cretin Derham Hall vs. Prior Lake which we previously predicted that Prior Lake would win. The matchup of Prior Lake vs Edina is one of the toughest picks in the entire tournament, as it is a faceoff between two teams with great section performances that seem to be turning it on at just the right time. We think that Prior Lake’s Mr. Hockey Finalist Alex Bump gives them the slight edge over the Hornets, leaving the Lakers victorious.
Led by Senior Captains Alex Bump and Will Suchemacer, the Prior Lake Lakers finished with an overall record of 18-10 heading into the state tournament. The team averages 4.71 goals per game, led by leading scorer and Mr. Hockey Finalist Alex Bump, who has 41 goals this season.
The Lakers seem to be peaking at the right time going 12-3 in their last 15 games. They received an unranked random draw in the state tournament and set to face number two seeded Cretin Derham Hall.
In Prior Lake’s first matchup against number two seeded Cretin Derham Hall we predicted an upset in favor of Prior Lake. Following this matchup facing the Hornets, two very evenly matched teams, the sheer fire power of the Lakers gives them the slight edge over Edina. As our prediction stands they would be set to face off against Hill Murray in the championship Game.
Led by two Mr. Hockey finalists seniors Dylan Godbout and Leo Gruba, the pioneers are filled with talent and look to redeem themselves after being disqualified from the tournament due to a Covid-19 exposure last year. They were able to hold onto their star studded defensive pair consisting of seniors Leo Gruba (32 points) and Axel Begley (33 points) from the year prior. Finishing with an overall record of 23-4-1, the Pioneers have an outstanding offensive capability. The Pioneers Received the number one seed in the tournament and are set to face off against Lakeville South.
We believe that the Pioneers have the depth and poise to make it past the first round of the tournament against Lakeville South. Then they will face off against the winner of Andover vs. Moorhead, in which we previously predicted Andover would be victorious. We believe that the Pioneers’ stacked defensive pair of Gruba and Begley will be unmatched in this contest and the Pioneers will find themselves in the championship game against Prior Lake.
Class AA final Prediction:
As previously stated, we predict that the 2022 state championship game will feature the number one seeded Hill-Murray Pioneers matched up against the unranked Prior Lake Lakers. This game would feature three Mr. Hockey Finalists, making the talent on both sides a critical factor. Hill-Murray seems to have an advantage in depth, whereas Prior Lake seems to have an upper hand when it comes to grit and firepower. Prior Lake’s Alex Bump seems to have put his team on the map over the course of the season, while Hill-Murray has been here before and has the talent and depth to override firepower. With this in mind, we predict the 2022 class AA Minnesota state champions will be the Hill Murray Pioneers.
Who will win the Class AA boys hockey tournament?
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Class A Predictions
New Prague defeated Albert Lea 5-2 to become section 1A champions and earned their trip to the Xcel Energy Center. Receiving an unranked/random draw, the Trojans will face off against the number one seed Hermantown. The team has a record of 11-15-2, with team leaders John Schmidt and Will Anderson scoring 26 and 25 points respectively this season. The Trojans have been given an unranked random draw for the tournament and are set to matchup against Hermantown.
We think that Hermantown is frankly going to walk right around the Trojans; unfortunately the Hawks have all the tools to beat New Prague and it would be a major upset if the result was different.
The Mankato East/Loyola boys hockey team defeated New Ulm 6-0 to claim the section 3A title. Junior Shea Gavin leads the team with 29 points, 16 of which are goals. Senior Aiden Prochaska also has 28 points on the season with a team leading 20 assists. The Cougars have a record of 17-10-1 and average 3.71 goals per game. The Cougars were given an unranked random draw and are set to face off against number three ranked Mahtomedi in the state quarterfinals.
In the first round we expect Mankato East/Loyola to put up a good fight but ultimately fall short to Mathomedi because of the goaltending matchup and level of competition throughout the season.
The Moose, mounting the worst overall record heading to the Xcel Energy Center as a class A team finished 13-14-1. Led by leading scorer senior Wilson Dahlmier and fellow senior Gavin Simon, the Moose are a very physical team. What they may lack in skill, they make up for in heart. The Moose unexpectedly made it out of their section upsetting St. Cloud Cathedral and they look to continue the upsets in their first round matchup against number two seeded Warroad. The Moose were given an unranked random draw in the tournament.
We predict that the Moose will fall short in their first round against Warroad due to the sheer firepower that the Warriors have. Monticello shouldn’t be able to hang in this one very long.
The Alexandria Cardinals have earned their way to the tournament gaining the number 5 seed after defeating Fergus Falls in the 6A section championship. The Cardinals are currently 19-6-2 and average 4.96 goals per game. Senior Josiah Gronholz has an impressive 59 points on the season, 34 of which are assists. The Cardinals will play the number 4 seed, Minneapolis, in the first round of the tournament.
We predict the Alexandria vs. Minneapolis game to be a low scoring affair, with Alexandria being unable to keep up with the speed of Minneapolis.
The Mahtomedi Zephyrs earned their way to the Minnesota state high school tournament after beating Chisago lakes in the 4A section finals. The Zephyrs are led by Junior David Wolsfeld who has 22 goals and 24 assists for a total of 46 points this season. The Zephyrs also have senior goaltender Ben Dardis who was named goalie of the year. Dardis has an impressive .942 percent save percentage. Mahtomedi received the 3 seed and will face off against the unranked Mankato East/Loyola.
We predict that the Zephyrs will be able to cruise past their first round opponent of Mankato East/Loyola who are undermatched for them and aren’t able to play with Mahtomedi’s pace and physicality. In the following round they would play the winner of Warroad vs Monticello which we predicted that Warroad would take this matchup. The Zephyrs match up well against Warroad with sound defense and stellar goaltending; however, the depth and firepower that Warroad has we believe will only allow the Zephyrs to hang around for so long making that a semi-final exit.
Led by sophomore forward John Bebler who scored two goals and senior goalie Alex Lemont, who made 30 saves on 31 shots in their section final win over Delano, the Minneapolis based boys high school hockey team is headed to Xcel Energy Center. The Storm captured a win in their thrilling section final game against Delano. Minneapolis is the number four seed in the tournament and it is the first time Minneapolis has made the state tournament since 1994. They will play the number 5 ranked Alexandria.
We believe that Minneapolis’s first round matchup is one that favors them. Minneapolis has solid depth at the class A level as well as a faced paced game, which should result in a win for Minneapolis in the first game of their tournament run. After their first round they would be set to face the winner of Hermantown vs New Prague which we predicted will be Hermantown. Hermantown has a large advantage over Minneapolis and their sheer speed alone should be enough to take down this Minneapolis squad.
The Hermantown Hawks came off a 11-0 win over Duluth Denfeld to earn the title of 7A section champions. Team leaders Dallas Vieau and Zam Plante both recorded a hat trick on the night. Star sophomore Max Plante leads the team with 66 points going into the state tournament. Another key player for Hermantown is sophomore goalie Dane Callaway who has 17 wins and 2 losses on the season. Hermantown finished with an overall record of 26-2 and averaged 5.89 GPG. Hermantown received the number one seed for the tournament and are set to match up against unranked New Prague.
The Hawks are one of the most storied class A teams in the history of Minnesota state hockey, winning seven state championships since 2010. Their matchup against New Prague in the first round should be nothing short of a blowout for the Hawks and we would be surprised with any other result. Cruising past this round they would face the winner of Minneapolis vs Alexandria which we previously predicted that Minneapolis would win. Minneapolis has their best team in recent history; however, we still don’t think that they will be able to best the Hawks in this matchup. This would lead them to the state championship game.
Coming off a 3-1 win over Thief River Falls, the Warroad boys hockey team is headed to St. Paul. Led by Mr. Hockey Finalist Daimon Gardner with 39 goals, senior Jayson Shaugabay with a team leading 49 assists, and senior Matt Hard, the team has been able to take on a tough section. Junior goaltender Hampton Slukynsky has been an important part of the team with a 1.48 goals against average and .928 save percentage. The Warriors finished with a 24-3-1 overall record and will be the number two seed in the class A state tournament.
We believe that the Warriors’ highly talented offense, paired with great depth and stellar goaltending, will be no match for Monticello. We predict that they will cruise past the first round with ease. Following this matchup they are set to face the winner of Mankato East/Loyola vs Mahtomedi which we previously predicted that Mahtomedi will be victorious. Both teams have solid goaltending, yet Warroad has the slight edge in offensive firepower which is why we believe they will take this matchup and advance to the state title game.
Class A final Prediction:
As we predicted, the final matchup for class a would feature the Hermantown Hawks vs the Warroad Warriors. This matchup would feature the two deepest teams in the tournament, and two of the best forwards in the tournament, Zam Plante and Damion Gardner. If this matchup occurs we predict a fast paced battle with most of the game being played in transition and many shots from both teams. We think that Hermantown has the slight edge in this matchup with experience and a slight advantage in depth and competition throughout the year. We predict that the 2022 class A state champions will be the Hermantown Hawks.
Who Will Win the Class A Boys Hockey Tournament?
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