Here’s your first set of in-season rankings.
1. Benilde-St. Margaret’s (2-0)
-The honest truth is that there is no real number one. The Red Knights cruised to victory over Rochester Lourdes and Duluth Denfeld; that isn’t a whole lot to brag about, but as the highest-ranked team in the preseason poll that remains undefeated or otherwise unchanged, they default to the tops spot. Road games against Burnsville and Hill-Murray this coming week will give them a chance to actually earn that rank, though things are fluid enough at this point in the season that teams can drop from the top spot without actually losing. It’s going to be that sort of season.
This week: Tues vs. Mounds View, Thurs at Burnsville, Sat at #5 Hill-Murray
2. Blaine (2-0)
-The Bengals put up some crooked numbers on the scoreboard during their swing north to play Moorhead and Roseau, though they did give up four goals in both games, too. There’s obviously plenty of talent here, but they’re going to have to be a bit stouter defensively in games against the very best. They have an important section battle with Centennial looming later this week.
This week: Thurs at Osseo, Sat vs. Centennial
3. Elk River (1-0)
-The Elks only played one game in the opening week, but they made it count, knocking off an Edina team that had looked great in its first three games. On that alone, there’s a case for putting them at the top, but my December mantra has always been “one game does not a season make,” so we’ll see how well they can back up that win. They only play once this coming week as well, though the game does have some 7AA implications.
This week: Sat vs. Andover
4. Edina (3-1)
-The Hornets looked near-untouchable in the Turkey Trot tournament and in a big win over Centennial, but the Elk River loss puts the early talk of dominance to rest. They’re almost certainly the deepest team in the state, but they remain a bit green on the blue line, and against a good and disciplined team like the Elks, that can make all the difference. With their schedule, they’ll have plenty of opportunities to be forgiven for the occasional loss, and that process begins this week with two more games against good teams, one of which is a section rival.
This week: Tues vs. #11 Prior Lake, Sat at Eagan
5. Hill-Murray (1-0)
-The Pioneers took care of business against Burnsville, and while that win doesn’t look nearly as impressive now that the Blaze have also lost to Lakeville North, it was a good start to the season. They continue their nonconference slate this week with a big game against Benilde, though they can’t overlook a decent Lakeville South team, either. This ranking also takes the lack of Willie Brown into account; the preseason rankings were done before his departure from the team.
This week: Tues at Lakeville South, Sat vs. #1 Benilde-St. Margaret’s
6. Eden Prairie (1-0)
-There isn’t much to be said about an easy win over Osseo, so the Eagles hold their position in the rankings and gear up for some slightly more challenging tests this coming week. They play a bunch of decent teams over the next two weeks, but don’t face another top-ten team until the Edina Holiday Classic.
This week: Tues vs. Rosemount, Sat at Lakeville South
7. Duluth East (2-0)
-The Hounds had a drama-filled week, needing a last-minute comeback to escape perennial 7AA doormat Cambridge before turning around and beating Wayzata 3-2. As a young team whose strength is in its defense, they probably will have more low-scoring adventures like the Cambridge contest before the season is out. But they also are a disciplined squad whose coach knows what he’s doing, and the Wayzata win proves they can beat anyone on any given night. With so much uncertainty out there in the rankings, that fact is enough to get the Hounds into the top ten.
This week: Tues vs. Anoka, Thurs at Superior (WI)
8. Wayzata (3-2)
-The Trojans had an up-and-down start to their year; they won a tight contest with Maple Grove and rolled over Hermantown, but Edina handled them without too much trouble, and they fell to Duluth East as well. They’re still a quality defensive squad, but until they start to take a little more control of games against other top teams, they won’t be able to reclaim that preseason #1 ranking. This week’s game against Burnsville could be instructive for both teams.
This week: Tues vs. Apple Valley, Sat at Burnsville
9. St. Thomas Academy (1-0-1)
-The Cadets rolled to victory in their opener, but a head-scratching tie against Holy Angels drops them a couple of spots. Yes, they dominated on the shot counter, but the result wasn’t quite there in the end. Next up are a couple of other decent teams that could give them a good fight.
This week: Wed vs. Holy Family, Sat at #15 Lakeville North
10. White Bear Lake (2-0)
-The win over Lakeville South took overtime, but the Bears are off to a good start, with quality offensive production in their two games. While they do face a couple of decent bubble teams, they don’t play anyone in the current top 25 until January. That means the Bears probably have to win out the rest of the month to stay in the top ten.
This week: Thurs at Hastings, Sat vs. Mounds View
11. Prior Lake (1-0)
-As expected, the Lakers had little trouble in their opening win over Chanhassen. This week’s lone game is an entirely different challenge, though, as Edina looms. They came close to tripping up the Hornets in the regular season last year; how will they fare this time around?
This week: Tues at #4 Edina
12. Maple Grove (1-1)
-The Crimson showed some good fight in the Turkey Trot, taking Wayzata to overtime and clawing out a last-second win against Holy Family. They aren’t going to overwhelm other top teams, but they’re scrappy and have no obvious weaknesses, meaning they should be in contention from start to finish. They now head into Northwestern Suburban Conference action, though their first two opponents are not among its leading contenders.
This week: Thurs vs. Anoka, Sat at Armstrong
13. Eastview (2-0)
-This is where things start to get a bit messy, but the Lightning beat Lakeville North, who beat a good Burnsville team. Time will tell if this is a genuine proof of their talent or simply fun with the transitive property, but for now, we’ll go with what we have. Add in a comfortable win over East Ridge and a decent track record, and they’re in the top 15.
This week: Sat vs. Hopkins
14. Minnetonka (2-0)
-The Skippers took care of business in week one, though the Anoka game was a competitive one. They’ll hold steady in the back of the top 15 for now, and a game against the team immediately behind them could illuminate a few things going forward.
This week: Tues vs. #15 Lakeville North, Sat at Bloomington Jefferson
15. Lakeville North (1-1)
-The Panthers had one of the more impressive wins of the first week of the season, as they marched right over Burnsville 5-2. They also lost to a decent Eastview team, so it’s hard to say too much yet, but there is at least some potential here. A busy week ahead includes both Minnetonka and St. Thomas Academy, and that should give us a much better idea as to their legitimacy as a top-15 team.
This week: Tues at #14 Minnetonka, Thurs at Rosemount, Sat vs. #9 St. Thomas Academy
Bubble Teams in Rough Order
Holy Family (1-2-1)
-The record, which includes an 8-0 loss Edina, may not look very good, but the Fire gave Maple Grove a good fight, blew out a Holy Angels team that tied St. Thomas Academy, and tied a good Breck squad. To go much higher they’ll need to turn some of those close games into wins, but there is reason for some optimism here. Next up: St. Thomas on Wednesday.
-The Blaze have been all over the map in the early going, with a blowout win over Rosemount, a reasonable loss to Hill-Murray, and a rough loss to Lakeville North. This is harsh, perhaps, but they need to show some consistency if they want to stay up around the top ten. Games against Benilde and Wayzata this coming week will give them every opportunity to right the ship.
Lakeville South (1-1)
-The Cougars have looked competitive in the early going, beating Eagan and taking White Bear Lake to overtime. We’ll see if they can continue the trend as the schedule gets even more difficult, with looming games against Hill-Murray and Eden Prairie
Grand Rapids (2-0)
-Neither win was especially impressive, but the Thunderhawks got Ws against Bemidji and Forest Lake to start the season on the right note and shore up their 7AA credentials. They take a road trip to the northwest this coming weekend, as they visit Roseau and Warroad.
-Lost 6-1 to Edina, but it’s just one game. Blaine looms in a big 5AA and NWSC game this Saturday.
-The season-opening loss to Lakeville South drops the Wildcats from the top 15, though they rebounded with a narrow win over Farmington. Two nonconference games are on the docket this week, including a tough one against Edina.
Cretin-Derham Hall (1-0)
-Handled Mahtomedi in their only game, and next face decent teams from Forest Lake and Hastings. Not much to say here yet.
-Open their season in Alexandria on Tuesday, and should not face any challenges this week.
Bloomington Jefferson (2-0)
-Handled tests against decent East Ridge and Cloquet teams; Minnetonka this week should prove a much more serious test.
-Lost to Blaine, but hung in there better than Roseau, and this ranking is also an adjustment for the return of Aaron Herdt. The Spuds have three games this week, including a section battle at Bemidji.
-The shutout loss to Thief River Falls wasn’t a very good start, and they allowed 8 goals to Blaine before rebounding for their first win over St. Francis. We’ll see if the Rams can show some signs of improvement against Grand Rapids this Friday.
Things should start to make a little more sense next week. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me at https://twitter.com/KarlEastHockey.
|Connor Hurley||Buffalo 2/38||Edina (MN-HIGH)|
|Tommy Vannelli||St. Louis 2/47||Minnetonka (MN-HIGH)|
|Taylor Cammarata||N.Y. Islanders 3/76||Waterloo (USHL)|
|Jake Guentzel||Pittsburgh 3/77||Sioux City (USHL)|
|Hudson Fasching||L.A. Kings 4/118||USA Under-18 (USHL)|
|Tucker Poolman||Winnipeg 5/127||Omaha (USHL)|
|Teemu Kivihalme||Nashville 5/140||Burnsville (MN-HIGH)|
|Michael Brodzinski||San Jose 5/141||Muskegon (USHL)|
|Blake Heinrich||Washington 5/144||Sioux City (USHL)|
|Grant Besse||Anaheim 5/147||Benilde (MN-HIGH)|
|Jonny Brodzinski||L.A. Kings 5/148||St. Cloud (WCHA)|
|Gage Ausmus||San Jose 5/151||USA Under-18 (USHL)|
|Avery Peterson||WILD 6/167||Grand Rapids (MN-HIGH)|
|Jake Jackson||San Jose 7/201||Tartan (MN-HIGH)|
Listed are the top ten Minnesota prospects for the 2013 NHL Draft. This list is not a mock draft or a prediction of draft selection, instead an evaluation of projected talent for the NHL level. The NHL Draft will be held on June 30th at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
1. Thomas Vannelli, Defenseman, Minnetonka
2. Connor Hurley, Center, Edina
3. Hudson Fasching, Right Wing, US Under-18
4. Teemu Kivihalme, Defenseman, Burnsville
5. Jake Guentzel, Center, Sioux City (USHL)
6. Avery Peterson, Center, Grand Rapids
7. Jake Jackson, Center, Tartan
8. Taylor Cammarata, Center, Waterloo (USHL)
9. Blake Heinrich, Defenseman, Sioux City (USHL)
10. Zach Glienke, Left Wing, Eagan
Gage Ausmus, Defenseman, US-Under-18; Parker Reno, Defenseman, Edina; Neal Pionk, Defenseman, Hermantown; Willie Raskob, Defenseman, Shattuck; Vinni Lettieri, Center, Lincoln (USHL); Clint Lewis, Defenseman, US Under-18; Christopher Forney, Defenseman, Thief River Falls; Michael Brodzinski, Defenseman, Muskegon (USHL); Jake Zeleznikar, Defenseman, Hermantown; Jordan Gross, Defenseman, Green Bay (USHL)
-Players that have not been selected in past drafts but are still eligible. (All players selected must not be older than 20 years of age by December 31st, 2013)
Grant Besse, Right Wing, Benilde-St. Margaret’s
Justin Kloos, Center, Waterloo (USHL)
Charlie Lindgren, Goalie, Sioux Fall (USHL)
Jonny Brodzinski, Center, St. Cloud State (WCHA)
Trevor Olson, forward, Sioux City (USHL)
Adam Johnson, Left Wing, Hibbing
Montgomery, Jacob, Left Wing, Sioux City (USHL)