The Counterpoint

March 02, 2005

The Minnesota State High school hockey tournament starts today. You can view the brackets here (class A) and here (class AA). We won't have any repeat champions this year, as both Breck (A) and Centennial (AA) lost in section play.

In class A, I would love to see first-year entrants Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl win. They have one of the top two or three players in the state on their team in Matt Niskanen, but realistically they don't have much of a chance. Additionally, I don't see how Warroad can lose. They are the only undefeated team in the state, and have demolished most of the teams they have played. Of the 8 teams in class A, we can rule out at least five: Shakopee, Albert Lea, Virginia, Little Falls, and Duluth Marshall. I like St. Thomas, but they are far too young to be a real force. Totino Grace is the only team, that might stop Warroad, but I wouldn't bet on it.

In class AA, I like last year's runners-up, Moorhead, followed by Holy Angels and Jefferson (Numbers 1, 3, and 4 in the polls). Second-ranked White Bear Lake has been very high for much of the year, but I can't remember them ever winning a quarterfinal game since I have been watching high school hockey. They took down defending champs Centennial, but I have heard from people that were there that Centennial didn't play their best game. The rest of the field will try hard, but Moorhead, AHA, and Jefferson are the ones to beat.

My picks

Class A: Has to be Warroad. Picking against them would be foolish at this stage.

Class AA: My head says Holy Angels, but I am going with the same pick I had last year, Moorhead. There are at most two or three teams that could pose threats (especially AHA), but I think this is their year.

I usually don't pick the favorites, and I feel a little weird picking both number ones. But I don't see Warroad losing, and I have been picking Moorhead pretty much consistently since the mid-90s (the days of Ryan Kraft and Matt Cullen); one of these years they won't let me down.