State Tournament Underway In The State of Hockey
It’s really the perfect storm. A combination of elite-level youth hockey players, legendary programs that are deep-rooted in the community with passionate fans and student bodies. It’s the mecca of hockey in the United States; where the sport just means more than it does anywhere else. It’s dubbed “The State of Hockey” for good reason.
The Minnesota high school state playoffs are set to begin on Tuesday, with eight teams at the Class-AA level and eight teams at the Class-A level. All games taking place at the 20,554-seat Xcel Energy Center where the Minnesota Wild play their home games. In a typical season, this venue would be packed to the brim — yes sold out — for a week of some of the best local youth hockey on the planet.
Nearly 50 current NHL players call Minnesota home; that’s more representation in the league than every other country in the world with the exception of Canada, Sweden and of course, the U.S. as a whole. It’s no surprise that this hockey hotbed is also home to one of the best events in all of youth sports.
Teams are divided into two groups based on student enrollment at the schools they represent, with the largest schools making up the AA Division and the smaller schools occupying the A Division. In order to qualify for the state tournament, a team must first win its district tournament, which is a bracket of 8-to-12 teams in a localized region of the state.
Brackets are set, matchups are made and the Class-A tournament will take the stage on Tuesday, with Class-AA opening up on Wednesday.
In Class-A, top-seeded Hermantown looks to return to the title game after finishing as runner-up in the 2020 tournament. The Hawks are 19-1-0 this season and have won five in a row. Standout ‘04 sophomore Zam Plante leads the way for Hermantown with 28 goals and 58 points in 19 games. On the other half of the Class-A bracket is undefeated Gentry Academy with a 16-0-0 record. An impressive 13 players average a point per game for the Galaxy’s high-powered offense. The Academy has scored six-or-more goals in all 16 of its games this season. Are these two teams on a crash course to meet in the final on Saturday?
The puck will drop for the Class-AA tournament on Wednesday, in what will certainly be a competitive clash of powerhouses. Five of the eight teams in the field have won 18-or-more games this season, including both teams in the 4-v-5 matchup between Andover and Maple Grove. Top-seeded Eden Prairie has made it to the championship game three times in the last five tournaments, but is still in search of the Eagles’ first state title since 2011. With four NCAA Division-I college commits on its roster, No. 1 Eden Prairie is the likely favorite in the field, but will be challenged at every step of the tournament. Defending 2020 champion Hill-Murray and its 18-2-0 record could pose a threat as the No. 2 seed, as well as No. 3 Lakeville South, looking to make a run at an undefeated season.
It will be a star-studded event in St. Paul, Minnesota, for the high school state tournament. Text us at 603-541-7772 to make your predictions for who wins the championship in the State of Hockey.