Minnesota Boys’ High School Section Analysis and Rankings

By Jack Kewitsch
Photo: Hannah Foslien/The Forum

It’s the best time of the year for high school so we’re shaking things up this week! With section play beginning Tuesday, we’re combining the rankings and section seeding. Giving you a finalized glimpse of the regular season. All while showing you the impact it had on sections in the end. Outside of a few sections, this year’s competition was top-heavy. Emphasizing the strangeness and obscurity this past season has showcased.

Section 1AA

1. Lakeville South (15-0-2)
Top 25 Rank: #3

Beating Maple Grove helped push this Cougar team back into the conversation for best in the State. Especially with all the shakeup these last few weeks. While their 4-3 win over the Crimson was telling in multiple ways, including showcasing this team’s firepower, it wasn’t enough to push them higher.

Although Lakeville South hasn’t lost, two ties compared to a singular head-to-head goes in Maple Grove’s favor. That’s not to say the likes of Cam Boche (20 G/24 A/44 Pts), Tanner Ludtke (12 G/26 A/38 Pts), and Cade Ahrenholz (15 G/14 A/29 Pts) can’t hold their own. Yes, the tie to Prior Lake last week hurts. But it’s best to get those games out of the way then. Because it’s win or go home for everyone now. 

2. Lakeville North (10-6-2)
Top 25 Rank: #21

A loss to Rosemount near the end of the season wasn’t spectacular, but this Lakeville North squad has proven it can give top teams an obstacle. See their 2-2 tie with Lakeville South earlier this year. Something to keep note of as this section is fairly weak with Hastings dropping the puck late. Expect an all-Lakeville final with State on the line.

3. Owatonna (12-4-1)

4. Hastings (12-6)

As mentioned above, Hastings started to run out of gas to end the regular season. Going 3-3 in their last six while needing overtime in the final game to get by Bloomington Jefferson. Those slip ups have led to them receiving the four-seed. Meaning the path to the championship is that much more difficult. Likely having to face a potent and motivated. Lakeville South in the semis. 

5. Northfield
6. Farmington
7. Rochester Century
8. Rochester John Marshall

Section 2AA

1. Eden Prairie (15-1-2)
Top 25 Rank: #4

If Jackson Blake stayed healthy all season, we’d likely be talking about an undefeated and top-ranked Eagles team. Instead, the Eagles endured a few hiccups without him. Splitting the season series with a surging Edina (1-1-1) and tying a quality Minnetonka team. Even when Blake isn’t fully healthy, this team is potent. Providing Lee Smith the ability to roll four lines with ease. This section is our first doozy, though. An annual gauntlet that often leaves us surprised.

2. Prior Lake (14-2-2)
Top 25 Rank: #11

A tie against Lakeville South was a rebound for this Lakers team. Their loss to a now floundering Shakopee off their chest. A team without any glaring deficiencies, yet no noticeable strong suits, is suited to make the section final. Yet while Chanhassen may be overlooked, Minnetonka can’t. 

3. Minnetonka (10-6-2)
Top 25 Rank: #13

Trying to predict the almost inevitable Prior Lake-Minnetonka matchup is difficult. At least to me. Meaning this Skippers team can make it back to the section final. Even State if they give Eden Prairie another bout. Yet their consistency across the board has been hit and miss. Culminating in the third seed. In hindsight, this is definitely the side of the bracket you want to be on. 

4. Holy Family Catholic (10-4-1)
Top 25 Rank: #16

The Fire have been extinguished the last few weeks. From covid cancellations to losses and injuries. They have limped to the finish line. While Chaska aren’t world beaters, neither is this Holy Family squad. That’s not to say they can’t beat Chaska. It’s more to do about how much will they have in the tank if they win and face Eden Prairie? 

5. Chaska

6. Shakopee (9-5-3)
Top 25 Rank: #25

Another team sputtering to the end of the season, Shakopee has the tough task of facing Minnetonka. Although this has definitely been a successful season for the Sabers. 

7. Chanhassen
8. New Prague

Section 3AA

1. St. Thomas Academy (10-4-3)
Top 25 Rank: #9

It’s hard to knock a team in the rankings for losing against three top opponents. Yet bounced back against a quality Mahtomedi team to end the regular season. Jackson Hallum (15 G/22 A/37 Pts) and Jared Wright (14 G/18 A/32 Pts), along with a solid supporting cast, can keep them in games. Only when everything on the backend is working too. However, they’re still the favorites in 3AA for a reason. Expect the Cadets to make another Trek to the X. 

2. Rosemount (14-3-1)
Top 25 Rank: #12

One of my personal shockers of the year, the Irish have a group that could make it interesting against St. Thomas. Watch out if Luke Levandowski (19 G/17 A/36 Pts) gets hot. He’s as elite as they come this year and a likely Mr. Hockey finalist. The supporting cast isn’t as reliable, but anything can happen in a single game. 

3. Burnsville
4. Bloomington Jefferson
5. Park
6. Eastview
7. Eagan

Section 4AA

1. Hill-Murray (15-2)
Top 25 Rank: #1

Welcome back to the top, Hill-Murray. With Maple Grove’s loss to Lakeville South, the Pioneers jumped at the opportunity with their 7-3 romp over St. Thomas. I’ve been mentioning how great this team could be all year. Whether in the rankings or on the You Don’t Know Jack Podcast, this team is the real deal. From a defense some college teams likely envy to a blooming offensive showcase that has 11 players with 13+ points, there’s nothing this team can’t seemingly conquer. All of that combines to make them the likely top seed at State if they make it.

2. White Bear Lake (14-3-1)
Top 25 Rank: #19

The best of the rest in 4AA, White Bear Lake had a respectable year. It could have been better in a non-pandemic year, but they’ll take it. Especially with how strong Hill-Murray is and how weak the rest of the section is. Leaving them with a matchup against the Pioneers in one of the most storied rivalries in the state for a chance at State on the line. 

3. Mounds View
4. Stillwater
5. East Ridge
6. Roseville
7. Woodbury
8. Irondale/St. Anthony
9. Minnehaha/North

Section 5AA

1. Maple Grove (17-1)
Top 25 Rank: #2

Some people I’ve talked with feel vindicated that Maple Grove finally lost. That’s nonsense. In a year as strange as this and as good as we believe Lakeville South is, the one goal loss is likely a blip. Although that’s hard to say now as we are in single elimination mode, this team is a powerhouse on offense. With likely Mr. Hockey winner Kyle Kukkonen (27 G/38 A/65 Pts) and Sam Jacobs (24 G/19 A/43 Pts) are legitimate stars. Throw in an additional four players with 30-40 points, two in the 20-30 range, and four more above 10, this is beyond potent. If they can shore up the defense and goaltending and not run into a hot goalie, this team can win it all. 

2. Centennial (13-4-1)
Top 25 Rank: #17

Losing 6-0 to Andover doesn’t leave a great taste in the mouth to end the season. While the rest of the section is milquetoast and Centennial should be in the final, Maple Grove is too good for this team. 

3. Blaine
4. Totino-Grace
5. Champlin Park
6. Osseo
7. Spring Lake Park
8. Coon Rapids

Section 6AA

1. Cretin-Derham Hall (17-1)
Top 25 Rank: #6

Welcome to the toughest section to predict this year. Congrats, 6AA! As for Cretin and their one loss record, they’re the favorite. Yet their schedule was weak and this is a stacked section. No point in predicting how far this team can go as they could lose to Blake or Benilde-St. Margaret’s in the semis or win the whole thing. 

2. Wayzata (10-5-2)
Top 25 Rank: #10

Some people have gained massive respect for the Trojans the last few weeks. From writers to fans to even coaches. They’ve deserved a lot of it too. Beating Benilde and tying Grand Rapids. But the team directly behind them finished just as hot. Making for a very likely and tantalizing semifinal.  

3. Edina (9-7-2)
Top 25 Rank: #9

The Hornets are getting hot! Mounting a wild comeback against Minnetonka and tying an elite Eden Prairie. Making their ranking over Wayzata as one that was splitting hairs. It didn’t matter in the end. Sitting right behind the Trojans in the section. It’ll be a grind to get to State, but Curt Giles has done it with sub-par squads before.

4. Benilde-St. Margaret’s (13-5)
Top 25 Rank: #14

It took awhile, but Benilde has regained some of their momentum after an abysmal few weeks. It’s not likely to impact them here in sections though. Showing they haven’t been up to snuff against those ahead of them as of late. Yet who knows what will happen with a Cretin team that has the weakest resume of the top section teams. That’s if Benilde can get past a tough Blake squad. 

5. Blake (9-6-1)
Top 25 Rank: #20

Not the best season to follow up their frustrating end to last year. There are still some pieces that could make life difficult for teams in this section. Yet their first round matchup against Benilde isn’t a walk in the lark. 

6. St. Louis Park (9-4-1)
Top 25 Rank: #22

Covid has forced the Orioles to enter section play without having played a game in two weeks. You have to wonder how sharp they’ll be against a surging Edina. They gave them a fight the first. Maybe it can happen again. 

7. Holy Angels
8. Hopkins

Section 7AA

North:

1. Grand Rapids (13-1-1)
Top 25 Rank: #5

A tie to Wayzata isn’t the end of the world, but it raises eyebrows for a team that doesn’t beat teams into submission. Jack Peart will have to be on every night to push this team forward. Although their stingy defense can bail them out, if needed. It’ll be a likely matchup against Andover in the final. While the Grand Rapids should win, Andover is rising. Clouding what to expect from this team from then on. 

2. Cloquet-Esko-Carlton
3. Duluth Marshall
Covid-19: Duluth East

South:

1. Andover (14-2-1)
Top 25 Rank: #7

What to do with the Huskies? They’re practically the best of the rest in terms of the elite teams this year. Although they’ve been prone to their fair share of issues. As with Grand Rapids, they should get to the final with ease. After that, it’s hard to predict. Making the 7AA final a must watch. 

2. Forest Lake
3. Elk River
4. Anoka

Section 8AA

1. Roseau (12-6)
Top 25 Rank: #15

Section 8AA was down this year. With the struggling Rams being the front-runner for most of the year. Losing to East Grand Forks, a Class A team, for the second time and failing to hang with Grand Rapids is questionable. Yet recently beating Moorhead keeps them in pole position. 

2. Moorhead (10-7-1)
Top 25 Rank: #18

They’re young and a dip was anticipated. Yet they still showed signs of promise. Making this an intriguing team to watch in section play. That doesn’t mean they’re about to go on a tear, as they have their issues, but they could make it to State. 

3. St. Michael-Albertville (6-11)

This is what happens when you put a team that shouldn’t be in the Lake Conference, into the Lake Conference. 

4. Rogers (13-5)
Top 25 Rank: #23

A lackluster schedule allowed Rogers to sneak into the Top 25 in what has been a respectable year. With no quality wins, it’s tough to gauge how far this team can actually go.

5. St. Cloud
6. Brainerd
7. Bemidji
8. Buffalo