Welcome back Wilderness Nation! The road to State has officially begun. The Section Tournaments began this week and already we have had quite the start. Despite the usual suspects being in the Section semis, a few got there by a hair. Here we go, Sections have begun.
In Section 1AA Lakeville North took the one seed and look to run the table and continue their surge into the State Tournament. They dominated the number 8 seed Dodge County 14-0 and will meet up with the five seed Rochester Century in the semi-finals. The winner will take on the winner of Farmington and Lakeville South for the Championship. In Section 2AA you have Edina as the number one seed taking on the four seed Bloomington Jefferson. Bloomington Jefferson survived a nail biter against Holy Angels to play Edina. The winner of that game will take on the winner of number two Prior Lake and number three Burnsville. In another bracket where we have the one through four seeds all making it to the semi-finals Section 3AA has St. Thomas Academy taking on the four seed Rosemount and the 2 seed Cretin-Derham Hall facing the three seed Eastview. All four teams have cruised in the Section tournament, having all won games by 2 goals or more. In Section 4AA they have yet to begin their Section tournament but all signs are pointing to a one versus two seed in Hill-Murray taking on White Bear Lake in the finals. In 5AA number one Blaine ran through Coon Rapids en route into taking on Maple Grove. The winner of that game will take on the winner of two seed Anoka and three seed Centennial. 6AA has a compelling semi-finals matchup between the four seed Benilde-St. Margaret’s and the one seed Eden Prairie who has looked rather human as of late could be one of the first big upsets of this year’s post season. In 7AA we have the one seed Elk River, who ran through St. Francis taking on the surprising five seed of Cloquet-Esko-Carlton, who upset St. Michael-Albertville in a 9-4 beating despite having lost to the same team last week. The winner will take on the winner of Duluth East and Grand Rapids, which despite being the two seed will face Duluth East in Duluth and thus be facing the home town crowd. Lastly in Section 8AA the number one seed Bemidji taking on the five seed Brainerd and the three seed Roseau taking on the two seed Moorhead.
In the Class Single A it was a lot of the same that we saw in Class Double A where a lot of the one through four seeds made it to the semi-finals. In Section 1A the one seed New Prague barely snuck by their first round opponent. They will take on the four seed Faribault in the semis and will take on the winner of Northfield and Mankato West. In Section 2A Breck, the one seed, absolutely took apart Waconia 16-1 in their first round game. They will be taking on the five seed Blake next and the winner of that game will end up playing the winner of Orono and Delano. Not too many folks are expecting any team ending in a vowel to end up the champions of this section however. In section 3A many, myself included expected one seed Luverne to run through their entire section with no problems, however, they found problems very early in this tournament. They took a 4-0 lead into the third period against the 8 seed Redwood Valley. Then Redwood Valley charged and made a game of this netting 3 goals in the third and giving Luverne a wake up call. If Luverne plays like this against any of the other teams left, who dominated their quarter finals matchups, it might be an early exit for the favorites. Luverne takes on Marshall and the winner of that game will take on the winner of New Ulm and Hutchinson. In 4A Mahtomedi continues its hot streak, rolling through Henry Sibley to get to the semis and face a South St. Paul team who may need a miracle to pull out the upset. The winner takes on the winner of the host of Hockey Day In Minnesota St. Paul Johnson and St. Paul Academy. In Section 5A Spring Lake Park is taking on the fifth seed Providence Academy who snuck a win out against the four seed to stay alive in the post season. The winner of that games takes on the winner of Princeton or Chisago Lakes who both cruised to the win in their quarter finals matchups. Section 6A has brought about another one through four seed semi finals matchups. Alexandria once again dominated a lesser opponent to take on St. Cloud Apollo who did not have as easy of a quarter finals matchup, sneaking out a 2-1 win. The winner will play either Fergus Falls or St. Cloud Cathedral who both look in great form to make a run at the championship. In Section 7A one seed Hermantown and two seed Duluth Marshall both look set to collide in an epic 7A finals match as both won their quarterfinals matchup 10-0. Duluth Denfeld will take on Marshall and Hibbing/Chisholm will take on Hermantown at Amsoil Arena today. Last but certainly not least we have the stacked section 8A. East Grand Forks, Thief River Falls, Warroad, Detroit Lakes are the one through four speeds respectively, and all four have yet to be really challenged in this Sections playoffs. East Grand Forks could take an easy win against an overmatched Detroit Lakes team, but the most interesting game will be Warroad against Thief River Falls. The game takes place in Warroad so you know that the home crowd will be pulling for a three seed upset to take the section title to state.
Well that’s it for this week’s edition of High School Highlight. I hope some of you get out to watch some great high school hockey action as this weekend is chalk full of it.