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Teams, players to watch for in the 2022 Minnesota boys state hockey tournament

Hermantown and Hill-Murray highlight a deep field of state tournament qualifiers battling for a state championship in St. Paul. Here's a look at the tournament, brackets, players to watch, and more.

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The Rink Live
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ST. PAUL — After a full season of action all around the state, the race for a boys hockey championship comes down to the final 16 teams set to meet this week in St. Paul.

Only three wins separate the best teams in Minnesota from a spot in the record books, and this year's tourney includes both traditional powerhouses vying for more banners and first-time qualifiers looking to make their mark in inaugural trips to the Xcel Energy Center.

Both classes are guaranteed different champions this season with defending Class A winner Gentry Academy's move to Class AA in the offseason and Class AA defending champion Eden Prairie's loss in the Section 2AA semifinals.

Two teams, Minneapolis in A and Prior Lake in AA, will make their state tournament debuts this season. Minneapolis, a mascotless co-op of seven public schools, is the first public school team from the city to make the Tourney since Minneapolis Edison in 1994. It should be noted, however, that Minneapolis has a storied history at the state tournament that includes more than 40 appearances split between eight schools — stretching back to Minneapolis Washburn's first appearance in 1948 — and a state championship for Minneapolis Southwest in 1970.

Prior Lake comes to St. Paul after Mr. Hockey favorite Alex Bump exploded for 4 goals and an assist in the Lakers' 7-4 Section 2AA final win against Chaska. Bump, a senior forward and Vermont commit, leads the team with 75 points on the season and is joined by fellow senior forwards Will Schumacher and Sam Rice to form a dynamic offensive top line. Prior Lake was 0-4 against state tournament qualifiers in the regular season, but does bring in a signature win after knocking off defending state champion Eden Prairie in the Section 2AA semifinals.

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Hermantown is the favorite in Class A and undoubtedly hungry for a return to form after being forced to play mostly junior varsity players due to COVID-19 issues in its quarterfinal loss to Dodge County last season .

The Hawks (26-2-0) breezed through Section 7A tournament play without surrendering a goal and have only lost twice on the season — to Class AA state tournament qualifiers Cretin-Derham Hall and Maple Grove. Hermantown, led by the offensive firepower of Max and Zam Plante and their 121 combined points, beat both No. 2 Warroad (2-1 OT on Jan. 15 in Hermantown) and No. 3 Mahtomedi (3-0 on Dec. 18 in Mahtomedi) during the regular season.

Hermantown won't be without competitors, with Warroad (24-3-1) the other most likely contender for the Class A title. The Warriors make their 23rd appearance at the state tournament and will look to bring their fourth title back to Hockeytown. Senior forward Daimon Gardner, a Clarkson commit, junior forward Jayson Shaugabay and junior goalie Hampton Slukynsky have led Warroad to an eight-game winning streak coming into St. Paul. Warroad's only loss against a Class A team this season was its overtime defeat to Hermantown in January.

030422 S GFH MNS8ABHKY-8.jpg
Warroad forward Carson Pilgrim celebrates his shorthanded goal with the Warriors fan section at the East Grand Forks Civic Center in the final minutes of the Minnesota Section 8A boys hockey championship against Thief River Falls on Thursday, March 3, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Mahtomedi (16-11-1) won't be an easy out, either. Senior goalie Ben Dardis has a .942 save percentage coming into the tournament, and the Frank Brimsek Award finalist has not allowed a goal in his last 203:36 of game action.

The Class AA tournament is, at least on paper, one of the most wide-open brackets in years. In a season where the rankings shifted rapidly and consistently throughout the winter months, Hill-Murray (23-4-1) emerged to claim the No. 1 seed in the Tourney after finishing the year on a seven-game winning streak that included wins over top-10 Maple Grove and Moorhead. However, the Pioneers lost to state qualifiers Andover and split with Edina during the regular season.

Despite making the tournament in 2021, Hill-Murray will play its first game back at the X since winning the 2020 state championship after being ruled out of last season's quarterfinal against Wayzata due to COVID-19 quarantine requirements.

Cretin-Derham Hall makes its return to the Xcel Energy Center for the first time since 2009 and the No. 2 seed will look to continue an 18-game winning streak that stretches back to Dec. 29. The Raiders are paced by senior forward Drew Fisher — the Mr. Hockey finalist leads the team in goals (28) and assists (31) — and senior goalie Marko Belak, a Frank Brimsek Award finalist with a .938 save percentage and 23-3-0 record in 26 appearances this season.

Of the eight teams in the Class AA bracket, only Prior Lake has not defeated at least one other member of the field. And if the parity in this year's field wasn't evident enough already: two of the teams that enter the tourney as unseeded squads, Edina and Lakeville South, were once ranked as the top team in the state during the season and the top seven teams in Let's Play Hockey's preseason rankings from Nov. 24 , which were conducted via a poll of high school coaches, all advanced to St. Paul.

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Follow along on The Rink Live for game recaps, news and photos when the action gets underway on Wednesday. See the bracket below for game information and times — streaming information , and printable brackets can be found online. For an idea of the path each team took to the Tourney, section tournament brackets for all eight sections in both classes are available here .

MR. = Mr. Hockey Finalist

FB = Frank Brimsek Award Finalist

Class A

Section 1 - New Prague Trojans (11-15-2)

3rd appearance - 0 championships

Last Appearance: 2017

Players to Watch: Jr. F John Schmidt (10 goals, 16 assists), Sr. F Will Andersen (9 goals, 16 assists), Sr. G Carter Puente (10-11-1, .911 SV%, 3.14 GAA)

Section 2 - Minneapolis (21-6-1)

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1st appearance*

*Current team is a co-op of seven Minneapolis public schools. Last appearance by a Minneapolis public school was in 1994 (Minneapolis Edison).

Players to Watch: Sr. F Jack Hanson (24 goals, 28 assists), Sr. F Zander Zoia (11 goals, 29 assists)

jea 1159 Warroad vs Minneapolis BH.jpg
Warroad forward Luke Erickson (7) and Minneapolis forward Jack Hanson (19) battle for the puck in the second period in a boys hockey game during Hockey Day Minnesota at Parade Stadium in Minneapolis on Jan. 18, 2020. Warroad beat Minneapolis, 5-1. (John Autey / The Rink Live)

Section 3 - Mankato East/Loyola Cougars (17-10-1)

4th appearance - 0 championships

Last appearance: 2020

Players to Watch: Jr. D Shae Gavin (16 goals, 13 assists), Sr. D Aiden Prochaska (8 goals, 20 assists), Sr. F Quintin Steindl (8 goals, 19 assists), Sr. G Caelin Brueske (16-90-1, .910 SV%, 2.22 GAA)

Section 4 - Mahtomedi Zephyrs (16-11-1)

13th appearance - 1 championship

Last appearance: 2020

Last championship: 2020

Players to Watch: Sr. G Ben DardisFB (14-11-1, .942 SV%, 1.97 GAA), Jr. F David Wolsfeld (22 goals, 24 assists)

Section 5 - Monticello Moose (13-14-1)

4th appearance* - 0 championships

Last appearance: 2020

*Monticello has made two trips to St. Paul as Monticello/Maple Lake and one trip as Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake

Players to Watch: Sr. F Wilson Dahlheimer (23 goals, 24 assists), Jr. D Gavin Simon (7 goals, 18 assists)

Alexandria boys hockey
Alexandria boys hockey players hold up Jack Albert's jersey after winning the Section 6A championship on March 3, 2022. Albert is a 10-year-old player in the Cardinals' youth hockey program who is fighting cancer after he was diagnosed with Stage IV Burkitt lymphoma on Jan. 24, 2022.<br/>
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

Section 6 - Alexandria Cardinals (19-6-2)

6th appearance - 0 championships

Last appearance: 2018

Players to Watch: Sr. F Josiah Gronholz (25 goals, 34 assists), Jr. F Tyler Kludt (13 goals, 35 assists), Sr. F Brycen Berg (27 goals, 16 assists)

Section 7 - Hermantown Hawks (26-2-0)

18th appearance - 3 championships

Last appearance: 2021

Last championship: 2017

Players to Watch: Jr. F Zam Plante (Minnesota Duluth) (20 goals, 35 assists), So. F Max Plante (16 goals, 50 assists), Jr F. Kade Kohanski (20 goals, 33 assists), So. G Dane Callaway (17-2-0, .921 SV%, 1.48 GAA)

Section 8 - Warroad Warriors (24-3-1)

23rd appearance - 4 championships

Last appearance: 2020

Last championship: 2005

Players to Watch: Sr. F Daimon GardnerMR. (Clarkson) (39 goals, 37 assists), Jr. F Jayson Shaugabay (Minnesota Duluth) (25 goals, 49 assists), Jr. G Hampton Slukynsky (24-3-1, .928 SV%, 1.48 GAA)

Hermantown boy’s hockey dominates Denfeld, 11-0 to capture Section 7A championship
Hermantown celebrates after defeating Denfeld 11-0 in the Section 7A championship on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Class AA

Section 1 - Lakeville South Cougars (25-3-0)

7th appearance - 0 championships

Last appearance: 2021

Players to Watch: Jr. G Jack Hochsprung (21-3-0, .931 SV%, 1.35 GAA), Jr. F Tanner Ludtke (Nebraska Omaha) (22 goals, 38 assists)

Section 2 - Prior Lake Lakers (18-10-0)

1st appearance

Players To Watch: Sr. F Alex BumpMR. (Vermont) (41 goals, 34 assists), Sr. F Will Schumacher (23 goals, 29 assists), Sr. F Sam Rice (11 goals, 29 assists)

Hockey Day EGF Prior Lake
Prior Lake forward Alex Bump (19) celebrates a goal against East Grand Forks during the first period Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, at Blakeslee Stadium in Mankato. Jason Wachter / The Rink Live
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

Section 3 - Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders (24-3-0)

4th appearance - 1 championship

Last appearance: 2009

Last championship: 2006

Players to Watch: Sr. F Drew FisherMR. (28 goals, 31 assists), Jr. F Jake Fisher (Northern Michigan) (23 goals, 29 assists), Sr. G Marko BelakFB (23-3-0, .938 SV%, 1.57 GAA)

Section 4 - Hill-Murray Pioneers (23-4-1)

32nd appearance - 4 championships

Last appearance: 2021

Last championship: 2020

Players to Watch: Sr. F Dylan GodboutMR. (Wisconsin) (29 goals, 24 assists), Sr. D Axel Begley (5 goals, 28 assists), Sr. D Leo GrubaMR. (11 goals, 21 assists), Jr. G Jack Erickson (16-1-1, .930 SV%, 1.39 GAA)

Section 5 - Maple Grove Crimson (21-6-1)

5th appearance - 0 championships

Last appearance: 2021

Players to Watch: Jr. F Landen Gunderson (19 goals, 53 assists), Jr. F Finn Brink (26 goals, 26 assists), Sr. F Joshua Giuliani (23 goals, 26 assists)

Section 6 - Edina Hornets (20-8-0)

29th appearance - 10 championships

Last appearance: 2019

Last championship: 2019

Players to Watch: Sr. F Trey Fechko (Arizona State) (20 goals, 20 assists), Jr. F Jimmy Clark (Minnesota) (15 goals, 21 assists), Jr. G Robbie Clarkowski (19-8-0, .928 SV%, 1.74 GAA)

Grand Rapids outskated by Andover in Section 7AA boys hockey championship game
Andover players celebrate a short-handed goal against Grand Rapids on Thursday, March 3, 2022, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Section 7 - Andover Huskies (22-5-1)

3rd appearance - 0 championships

Last appearance: 2021

Players to Watch: Jr. F Cayden Casey (21 goals, 46 assists), Jr. F Gavyn Thoreson (25 goals, 41 assists), Sr. G Austin BraunsFB (19-5-1, .927 SV%, 1.72 GAA)

Section 8 - Moorhead Spuds (21-6-1)

19th appearance - 0 championships

Last appearance: 2021

Players to Watch: Sr. F Gavin LindbergMR. (21 goals, 43 assists), Jr. F Harper Bentz (37 goals, 27 assists, 9 GWG), Sr. F Carson Triggs (23 goals, 31 assists)

Moorhead vs Elk River-Zimmerman_1646.jpg
Moorhead celebrates their win against Elk River/Zimmerman with fans Wednesday, March 2, 2022, at the Municipal Athletic Complex in St. Cloud.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

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