I saw a preseason ranking on Twitter a few days ago. I am sure you all saw it. Girls hockey is a small world without a lot of content so anyone interested in it sees and reads all the same stuff.
In that preseason ranking they made a decent effort. But there were two glaring things that caught my attention. Blaine was ranked 5th and Blake was completely omitted. There is a logical explanation for that, I believe. Here is what I think happened.
For the purpose of this scenario I am going to use Boss Guy and Intern Guy. Because we all know if it were Boss Gal and Intern Gal the mistake never would’ve happened in the first place and I would not have this bit.
Boss Guy: Hey, we need to get the Preseason Power Rankings out. Here is what I came up with. Edina. Andover. Hill Murray. Forest Lake. Blay…..Eden Prairie. Wayzata. Minnetonka. Roseau. And North Wright County.
Intern Guy: Wait. You broke up. Can you give me the one right after Forest Lake, again?
Boss Guy: Yeah. Blay……
Intern Guy: I still can’t hear you. You must be in a bad spot.
Boss Guy: Blay…..then Eden Pr….
Intern Guy: You’re breaking up.
Boss Guy: I’ll call you back when I get in a better spot.
Intern Guy: Nevermind. I got it. I will put it up on Twitter right now.
So Intern Guy, not knowing anything about girls hockey, checks the most recent State Tourney results and sees Blaine lost to Edina in the State Championship in 2017 and thinks, “Oh, Boss Guy must’ve said Blaine.” What I really think Boss Guy said was, “Blake”. That’s the only way this whole Blaine/Blake thing makes sense, right? I mean Blaine was 11-13-1 last year and they’ve graduated Ramsey Parent.
I think there are going to be 5 teams that will separate themselves from the pack this year.
We will start with the obvious. Three time defending champs will not miss a beat this year. “Yeah, but they graduated 141 points between Bowlby, Kuehl, and Uihlein,” you say. That is true. But there is still a Bowlby, Kuehl, and Uihlein on the roster. Plus U of M commits Jungels squared, Harvard commit Hannah Chorske, USA Team member and UMD commit Katie Davis, BU commit Kylie Roberts, Penn State commit Emma Connor. And goal….wait. Back up. Emma Connor? Who is Emma Connor? Oh, she’s just a move in that used to be teammates with Katie Davis at Selects Academy and participated in the U18 Select Camp this past July. I’ve seen her play a few times. She is really good. Now, where was I? Oh yeah…and goalie Uma Corniea. She’s a freshman. And has already won 2 State Titles while she was at Breck. Perhaps you’ve heard of her. The Hornets were already stacked. And then they add Connor and Uma?! Would it be appropriate for me to say, “The rich keep getting get richer”? Yes. Yes, it would. It’s perfectly fitting actually. They will have to get through the gauntlet that is Section 6 but a fourth state title in a row is totally realistic. And unprecedented.
When you think of the Andover Huskies you think of offense. The line of Hemp-Nelson-Krause scored a combined 170 points last year. I bet they exceed that total this year. But their defense is just as formidable. The D corps will be anchored by senior Maine commit Kennedy Little. She will be joined by junior Yale commit Maddie Clough, sophomore Gopher commit Madison Kaiser, underrated senior Ellie Tammi, and freshman Josie Hemp. Sophomore forward Sara Kaiser deserves a mention. I’ve said it before but she is VERY underrated and will play a significant role by putting up points while Hemp-Nelson-Krause are taking a breather on the bench. Madelynn Jurgensen could emerge this year while getting some second line minutes. The Huskies will have to meet Forest Lake in the section playoffs but anything short of a State Tournament Finals appearance will be a disappointment for them.
How has Lily Delianides never been on a National Team?! That makes no sense to me. Lily will put up a ton of points. Senior Gopher commit Addie Burton will put up a ton of points. Senior Gopher commit and two-time National Team member Audrey Wethington will put up a ton of points. Juniors Bailey Abraham and Kylie Gage will provide some offense. Sam Broz is coming off a summer in which she lit up 15s National Camp and parlayed that into an invitation to the 18 Select Camp. As an 04 by the way. Sam’s classmates Ellie Morrison and Suzy Higuchi will be right in the mix and play significant minutes. Defensively the Bears will miss Madeline Wethington. But when a Gopher graduated they simply brought another Gopher in. Freshman Rilee Winters transfers in from Cambridge-Isanti and will help Holy Cross commit Grace Johnson and Georgia Pettygrove along the blue line. It sounds like goalie Molly Haag is healthy and the Bears are grateful for that.
I said last year in the preseason preview that Minnetonka was a bit of a head scratcher. Plenty of talent but mediocre results. I couldn’t quite understand why. The mediocrity persisted through the regular season which ended in an 11-13-1 record. I went to one Skipper regular season game last year that happened to be near my house. It was a game in which Minnetonka had two power plays. For each of those two power plays the line (Martin-Melz-Bayless) in which I figured would be the first PP unit barely saw the ice. They lost the game 1-4. The Skippers then lost 8 of 11 games to end the regular season. Then the postseason rolled around and a completely different team showed up. I watched their State Tournament opener vs. Maple Grove. In that game the Skippers had 6 PPs. In that game the line I figured should’ve been the first PP unit was, in fact, the first PP unit. There were some PPs where Lacey Martin never left the ice. They made a great postseason run that found them taking Edina to the wire in the semifinal and beating Andover in the 3rd place game. I believe their post season run is a truer (is that a word?) indication of their abilities. You’ve got 3-time National Team member and Gopher commit Maggie Nicholson, first time National Teamer and Cornell commit Rory Guilday, and UMD commit Hanna Baskin at D. Senior BU commit Lacey Martin scored 30 goals last year. Add to them junior forward and Harvard commit Kayley Crawford and junior goalie and Cornell commit Brynn Dulac and you’ve got a talented group. Knowing Tonka’s new coach Tracy Cassano and her competitive nature she will play to win from the first drop of the puck of the first game and a 20+ win season and a return trip to the State Tourney will be in the cards.
The Rangers are still having nightmares about how their season ended last year. Let me remind you. Forest Lake found themselves down 1-2 after two periods in the section final vs. Andover. Forest Lake’s Breija Parent scored two third period goals to give the Rangers a 1 goal lead. It looked like the Rangers were going to punch their ticket to the State Tourney until Andover’s Gabby Krause tied the game up with :13 left in regulation. At the :23 mark of OT the Huskies’ Madison Kaiser stole Forest Lake’s state tourney birth by scoring the game winner. It was an absolute heart breaker. If Forest Lake is going to make a state tourney run this is their year. They are very senior heavy having 13 of them. Seniors forwards Breija Parent/UMD, Ashley Mills, Sydney Rydel, and Brooke Remington/Franklin Pierce will provide the scoring. USA National Team member and Colgate commit Rachel Golnitz and Minnesota St. commit Ellen Nelson, and Courtney Pederson will be the defensive stalwarts. Senior goalie Ally Goehner was VERY good last year. I initially thought the Rangers would miss Josie Bothun when she decided to go play for the boy’s team. I was wrong. An Andover vs. Forest Lake section final is almost a guarantee. This group of seniors has had a great career and it would be nice for them to go out with a State Tourney appearance. They deserve it.
THE BEST OF THE REST
Wayzata- Head Coach Jess Scott departs and will be missed but the AD backfills with the Dynamic Duo of father/daughter Dean and Taylor Williamson. They will not skip a beat there. Up front you have Quinnipiac commit Sophie Urban, junior Clarkson commit Greta Branton, and sophomore Clarkson commit Sloane Matthews. That is a VERY good first line. The Wiz has left for Clarkson and will be missed. The Hackley sisters, Addy and Sami, will be there to fill her shoes.
Eden Prairie- With Minnesota St. commit Sydney Langseth on lead vocals, Princeton commit Grace Kuipers on lead guitar, Brown commit Carrie Byrnes on rhythm guitar, senior St. Anselm commit Claire Kuipers on bass, and junior goalie, Don Henley, I mean Molly Goergen on the drums the Eagles will play all their greatest hits and put on a good show. I actually can’t stand The Eagles. The band that is. But I couldn’t resist.
North Wright County- With the addition of Madelyn Skelton from Cambridge-Isanti the River Hawks might have a first line that could put up as many points as the Andover first line. And I say might for two reasons. Mackenzie Bourgerie, Sydney Lemke, and Chloe Finnerty had a combined 186 points last year. But with the addition of Skelton they might elect to put two of each of them on a line to balance things out rather than leave one of them on an island. Plus they make the move to the Lake Conference which might put a lid on their production.
Roseau- Santl? Yep, she’s back. Stoskopf? Yes. Her too. Any of the Helgesons? Yes, two of them. Got it. They will be good again.
Hill Murray- Nina Steigauf is going to light it up. She’ll be heading to Quinnipiac next fall. Sophomore Gopher commit Allie Franco will be on the blue line this year after spending her freshman campaign at forward. They are a young team this year. Lack of depth and inexperience might hold them back a little bit. But then again they do come out of Section 4.
Brainerd/Little Falls- They lose some production with the graduation of Pohlkamp and Abear. They are certainly going to miss goalie Olivia King. But they return some talented players in Gabbie Smith, Lindsay Booth, Emma Booth, Sophie Robinson, and Josie Kramer.
Farmington- Their sophomore and junior classes are outstanding. It might be one more year before they make A LOT of noise.
Good luck to all this season! See you at the rink.