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Minnesota Boys State High School Hockey Tournament: Class A

We take a look at the respective section winners that will represent the field in Class A when The Tourney kicks off on Wednesday.

MSHSL Hockey Tournament logo

Finally, March Madness is upon us. No, I’m not talking about college basketball, nobody wants to see those pumpkin pushers for the next month, unless you bet your entire fortune on a bracket that was busted within minutes of the first round. We are all thinking about the Minnesota Boys State High School Hockey Tournament, aka, The Tourney. That is what truly matters for the next few days. To make it a little extra special, this year is the 75th annual tournament.

Fans will pack the Xcel for 4 straight days to see these youngsters play a game they love and give everything they have to win a title. Tears will be shed in both excitement and defeat.

I’m here to give everyone a little preview of the teams coming into the tournament. Before we get started, I want you to know a little about me, it’s important as I have some strong opinions of teams through out the state. Mostly it stems from years of playing hockey in this state and one tends to develop a strong like or dislike for certain teams and cities. I come from up north and that’s all you need to know, and you’ll figure it out real fast why that matters.

Don’t take the jokes too seriously, it’s all in good fun. Think of this as the Howard Stern of State Tourney blogs. You won’t get this anywhere else. You’ll get a good laugh and you’ll learn some things too. In the end, it’s about the kids on the ice and that’s what we will celebrate these next few days. Regardless of results, every kid taking the ice at the X this week will take this moment with them for the rest of their lives. Good luck to all!

Now, let us get started…

Class A

Section 1 – Minnesota River (20-4) – Comprised of a few different schools but most notably, LeSueur-Henderson High School and St. Peter High School. Making their first ever appearance to the big dance, hats off to these collection of schools from the south. They come into the tournament with a very solid record but, it’s very hard to judge what this team is about. Section 1 isn’t the toughest in the state so I can’t imagine they’ve been truly tested. Because we got a first timer over here, I’ll have a rooting interest but don’t have high hopes. If they get blasted in the first round, at least they will get to see what playing on an Olympic size rink is like in game two. But, as Kevin Garnett once said, “anything is possible”. Make sure you scream it from the top of your lungs when saying it.

Section 2 – Delano (17-9-2)To get to their 2nd trip to state the Tigers had to knock off the defending state champs in Orono. That’s never an easy task so this might be a dark horse team to win it, or perhaps, a dark Tiger? Like what I did there? I apologize to Delano but last time they made the tournament I had to google map where they were located, fast forward two years later and I had to do it again. Put yourself on the map by winning a title and perhaps I’ll remember your location next time. Anyways, good luck.

Section 3 – New Ulm (17-8-1) Making their 6th appearance all-time. I don’t want to take anything away from New Ulm making it to state because that’s a dream for most kids, but there hasn’t been much success when they get there. Currently, they hold an 0-10 record. Not so good, but there is always a chance to get that elusive first win, is this the year? Maybe at the Mariucci because chances are, they will get bounced in round one. It’s quite alright, the quicker you lose out of the tournament, the quicker you can get back to your Schell’s. Perhaps you can bribe the tournament officials with your best beer and get your W that way. Seems shady, but it might be worth it. I’ll even have a Schell’s in your honor while watching the quarterfinals game. I certainly hope you aren’t playing at 10am, not sure how I’ll explain a morning beer to the boss. Let’s worry about that later.

Section 4 – Mahtomedi (21-6-1)Making their 11th appearance overall and 3rd straight, the Zephyrs look to capitalize on a Hermantown-less tournament. They have been a pillar of Class A for the last decade but have never claimed a title and not even a final. They will be most people’s choice for winning it all this year and rightfully so. Can they overcome the pressure of being the favorite and bring a title home? In order to get the tournament, they had to knock off a team that is opting up to AA next year in Totino-Grace, not Hermantown. On the bright side we won’t have to hear the debate about Hermantown this year. At least not every day of the tournament.

Section 5 – North Branch (19-7-2)Another first timer. Maybe North Branch will be the new Cinderella story that shocks the world and makes it to the finals like their section counterpart, Monticello did in 2017. They ultimately lost in double OT to Hermantown. Sounds like this hockey association has tried hard to get an indoor rink for the Vikings but nothing has prevailed yet. Well, their first state tourney bid might help that. Best of luck but again, game two might be at the Mariucci.

Section 6 – St. Cloud Cathedral (24-4)The Crusaders are making their 9th appearance and are also heavily favored. Only one of two private schools in this year’s tournament between both classes, that’s cool. Although, Cathedral doesn’t have that much to choose from since most go to this school anyway because of the rest of the area high schools are, how should I put this? Less than average, that’s a nice way to say it. It blows my mind that no team from St. Cloud has ever won a state tournament. I guess Cathedral has a better chance than any but I’m sure they’ll blow it. The weight of St. Cloud failure will crush their hopes and dreams. At least they’ll know they are getting a better education than the rest of the city.

Section 7 – Greenway of Coleraine (15-13)Thank goodness for Greenway. Finally, someone slayed the giant (Hermantown) and knocked them off their throne. Nine straight years, Hermantown had represented section 7A and now their time is done. At least for one season. The bigger story out of this, Greenway rising from the ashes of a program that was on the brink of extinction (Check out the link for an article about that). A pillar, of the Iron Range schools that made their trek to state annually. They were dominate in the 60’s with four appearances in the finals and two state titles. They were last seen in St. Paul in 2001 when Andy Sertich and Gino Guyer single handedly took the once small class 2A school to state. It’s been tough sledding for this hockey community with having to drop down to single A because they just couldn’t compete anymore. Props to them for years playing the big schools and still finding success but it was just not feasible anymore to keep playing that schedule. Welcome back to The Tourney, Greenway of Coleraine, the entire state beyond the metro has missed you and will be rooting for you. Good luck boys.

Section 8 – East Grand Forks (17-8)There is a special place in my heart for this section. Generally, it’s a three-team race but the last decade it’s been either Thief River Falls or East Grand Forks with Warroad on a bit of a slump for making the trek down. The Green Wave make their 12th appearance all-time with this being their 5th in 7 years. Even with their all too close proximity to North Dakota (America’s wasteland) I’ll still pull for this team to represent the north well. With two banners already hanging from the EGF Civic Center, they look to add a third. They will be my obvious choice to win it all because no one wants a private school and no one wants Mahtomedi, the forgotten suburb. Lastly, what is a Green Wave? Perhaps they are do for a name change. If they have a mascot that’s literally dressed up as a green looking wave, I’ll retract my statement.

There you have it, the quick look at all the teams from Class A from their respective sections.

Next up Class AA preview. Stay tuned, the suspense could be overwhelming but worth it… I hope.

Stats and records were found using MN Boys Hockey Hub, Minnhock and Vintage Minnesota Hockey