Class AA Section Preview

Senior forward Suzy Higuchi leads the top-seeded Blake Bears into the Section 6AA playoffs.
Photo by Arnie Hamel
Senior forward Suzy Higuchi leads the top-seeded Blake Bears into the Section 6AA playoffs.

Up For Grabs

After some eye-popping upsets, the remaining teams in Class AA get set to battle for section championships and punch their tickets to St. Paul

Lauren McQuillan
Monday, February 13, 2023

North by Northfield in Section 1AA

Talk about an upset; fourth-seeded Northfield pulled off a 5-2 win against #1 seed Lakeville South last Saturday night. Northfield and second seed Lakeville North will face off on Thursday in Owatonna for the section title.

For those that don’t remember, the Raiders faced a similar situation last year. The Raiders played in the section finals and beat Lakeville South to win the Section 1AA final.

Junior goaltender Macy Muller has played all 26 games this season for the Raiders, recording nine shutouts. Muller has been solid in between the pipes, with a 1.78 GAA, while maintaining a .921 SV%.

Standout junior Ayla Puppe (Minnesota) is averaging 3.15 points a game, Puppe has had 86 points this season and is third in the state with 51 goals.

Lakeville North’s Addie Bowlby (Sacred Heart) leads the team in points (21-24-45). Goalies Addie Oettinger and Kaia Weiland have split time in nets this season. Bowlby and Oettinger are no strangers to section final games either; last year Bowlby and Oettinger faced Rosemount in the section finals for Burnsville, and advanced to state.

JanJet Predicts: Lakeville North 3, Northfield 1

Skippers hope to douse Fire in Section 2AA

Minnetonka sophomore forward Lauren Mack.

Minnetonka sophomore forward Lauren Mack.  Photo by Arnie Hamel

Top-ranked Minnetonka earned the number one seed for Section 2AA while Holy Family (#6) is the number two. I suspect a Minnetonka-Holy Family repeat of last year’s section championship game.

Minnetonka has a strong lineup of future Gophers: leading scorer Ava Lindsay (23-17-40), Kendra Distad, Josie Hemp, Elly Klepinger - with quite possibly more on the way. UMD-bound senior forward Grace Sadura is second on the Skippers with 38 points.

Layla Hemp will likely take the start for the section final game against Holy Family. Layla was the youngest member on Team USA’s U18 roster this year.

Holy Family will have quite the lineup as well. Old faces and new top the stat sheet for the Fire, led by sophomore Josie Linn (23-23-46), freshman Haley Box (19-18-37), and senior Sacred Heart University commit Grayson Limke (18-16-34).

Holy Family goaltender Sedona Blair, who was just named a Senior Goalie of the Year semifinalist, has a 1.27 GAA, .949 SV%, and six shutouts this season.

JanJet Predicts: Minnetonka 2, Holy Family 1 (2OT)

Raiders pull off a stunner in 3AA

Well, #4 seed Cretin-Derham Hall winning against top seed Apple Valley wasn’t on my “MN Girls Sections Bingo Card”, yet I always love an underdog and I’m sticking with CDH for this section.

CDH, just 8-17-0 in the regular season, is a definite dark horse pick. CDH is very young, with seven freshmen, ten sophomores and just two seniors. The theme across the stat sheet seems to be consistency. Seven players have at least 12 points and almost every player on the team has scored at least one point.

Sophomore Abigail Broz leads the team with 13 goals and 23 points. Broz scored the game-winner on Saturday to send the Raiders to the section championship against Rosemount on Wednesday.

Rosemount’s threats are sophomore Sophie Stramel (12-18-30) and senior Anna Shandorf (13-16-29). Junior Natalie Kendhammer will likely get the start for the Irish. Kendhammer has a 2.07 GAA along with a solid .915 SV% in 14 games.

JanJet Predicts: Cretin-Derham Hall 4, Rosemount 3

Stars and Pioneers favored to meet in 4AA

Hill-Murray junior forward Chloe Boreen leads the Pioneers with 39 goals this season.<br>

Hill-Murray junior forward Chloe Boreen leads the Pioneers with 39 goals this season.
  Photo by Arnie Hamel

In the final six weeks of the season, Hill-Murray (#3) went on a 14-0-1 streak to earn the top seed in Section 4AA. Gentry Academy (#4) earned the number two seed with Stillwater (#10) following.

I expect a rematch of the Class 4AA final from last year between the Stars and Pioneers. Gentry has Cara Sajevic (St. Thomas) leading the Stars with 61 points, as well as a strong set of Gazdik Twins, Jenessa and JuliAnna (Minnesota State), who have 42 and 41 points respectively.

Senior goaltender Zoe Laming (Northland College) has a 1.59 GAA and a .903 SV%.

Hill-Murray junior goaltender Grace Zahn (Dartmouth) is one of the best in Minnesota. Zahn has a 1.04 GAA and has recorded eight shutouts. Her .956 SV% is the second highest in the state (following Uma Corniea’s .958).

The Pioneers will be coming off a tough 5-2 loss against Benilde-St. Margaret’s to end the regular season, just their third loss on the year.

Janjet Predicts: Gentry Academy 2, Hill-Murray 1 (OT)

Crimson looking for repeat title in 5AA

Maple Grove goaltender Dani Strom played for Team USA at the U18 World Championships in Sweden this year.

Maple Grove goaltender Dani Strom played for Team USA at the U18 World Championships in Sweden this year.  Photo by Mike Hueller

Top seed Maple Grove (#7) is looking to head to St. Paul for the second year in a row. The Crimson are led by senior Stella Retrum (Penn State) (25-30-55) and junior Bella Shipley (21-32-53).

Junior goaltender Dani Strom (St. Thomas) has had a stellar season playing for the Crimson, then Team USA in Sweden. Strom has a 1.22 GAA and a .952 SV%.

Centennial/Spring Lake Park is the two seed. Centennial is a very strong team that seems to not get talked about enough. Senior Lauren O’Hara (Minnesota) has 52 points this season (33-19-52).

Junior Kaitlin Groess has started a majority of the games for the Cougars. Groess has a .927 SV% along with a 1.88 GAA.

Janjet Predicts: Maple Grove 4, Centennial 2

Bears hope to justify top seeding in 6AA

The Edina Hornets are trying to make it back to state once again after being given the number two seed in Section 6AA.

The Edina Hornets are trying to make it back to state once again after being given the number two seed in Section 6AA.  Photo by Arnie Hamel

Blake earned a controversial #1 seed in Section 6AA, despite lots of people disagreeing. The Bears did beat #3 seed Benilde-St. Margaret’s twice, as well as two-seed Edina 1-0, but have just a 14-11-0 record.

Assuming Edina gets past the Red Knights on Wednesday night, it will be the Bears facing off against the Hornets for the section championship, in an intense rematch from when the two teams met at Braemar on Jan. 17.

The Bears have a strong pair of Ivy League commits; Seniors Sam Broz (Brown University) and Suzy Higuchi (Yale) have been racking up the points this year. Higuchi leads the team in points with 32 goals, 33 assists, and 65 points. Broz is next with 30 goals, 32 assists, and 62 points for the Bears.

Blake freshman goaltender Janie McGawn has had a solid season between the pipes. McGawn has a 1.74 GAA, an impressive .937 SV% as well as 3 shutouts this year.

The Hornets have the obvious standout, goaltender Uma Corniea (Princeton), who has been shattering state records this year. Corniea recently became the winningest goalie in MSHSL history (100), and all-time leader in shutouts (43).

On top of phenomenal goaltending, the Hornets offense is led by junior Hannah Halverson (Wisconsin) (13-22-35), sophomore Whittney Horton (12-20-32) and freshman Lorelai Nelson (14-17-31).

This should be another close game. Both teams are highly skilled and this will be one of the biggest “can’t miss” games of the year.

JanJet Predicts: Edina 3, Blake 2 (OT)

Huskies maintain stranglehold in 7AA

Andover junior forward Nora Sauer has 31 points on the season for the Huskies.

Andover junior forward Nora Sauer has 31 points on the season for the Huskies. 

Defending state champion Andover (24-3-0) is the obvious #1 seed in Section 7AA. The second-ranked Huskies look almost certain to return to state and defend their title.

Blaine earned the #2 seed despite a late-season slump that saw them lose seven straight games. In the quarterfinals, Blaine prevailed after a long, long, LONG game against Anoka.

The game went to six overtimes until Blaine sophomore Kayla Shaffer scored to give the Bengals the victory. HUGE shoutout to Anoka junior goalie Gretchen Paaverud who made 89 saves in the game.

In a minor upset, Grand Rapids/Greenway then defeated a fatigued Blaine 3-0 on Saturday in the semifinals. GRG will face off against Andover on Thursday in Proctor for the 7AA championship.

GRG is led by sophomore Mercury Bischoff (44-28-72) and her cousin, senior defenseman Jazzy Bischoff (2-11-13). The Lightning also have senior forward Kalle Reed (12-37-49) and junior goalie Riley Toivonen, who has a 1.69 GAA and a .911 SV%.

Andover’s Ella Boerger (St. Thomas) and Isa Goettl (Minnesota), who are both Ms. Hockey finalists, have been absolutely dominant this season, combining for 128 Points. Boerger leads the team with 67 points and Goettl has 61, but Andover isn’t all just offense. Andover senior goalie Courtney Stagman has an incredible 11 Shutouts, .934 SV%, and a 1.11 GAA.

JanJet Predicts: Andover 5, Grand Rapids/Greenway 3

Spuds looking to finally win in 8AA

Roseau Goaltender Jada Pelowski.

Roseau Goaltender Jada Pelowski.  Photo by Mike Lieb

Top seed Moorhead has been a hidden gem this season. The Spuds are 19-8-0 yet haven't gotten the attention or recognition they deserve.

Senior Bria Holm has found her way to the top of the stat sheet for the Spuds, with 43 points this year (23-20-43). Sophomore Olivia Kortan and juniors Kate Kosobud, Taylor Brueske and Ella Holm all have over 30 points, giving the Spuds good offensive production.

The Roseau Rams are the #2 seed and beat Buffalo and Alexandria to reach the section championship. Roseau has lost to Moorhead both times they faced each other earlier this season, 5-2 and 4-3. Sophomore Payton Remick (26-19-45) leads the Rams offense. Goaltender Jada Pelowski has a 2.45 GAA and a .917 SV%.

The Rams will need a solid effort on both ends of the rink in order to earn their ticket to St. Paul. I expect this to be a close game, though I do strongly believe that Moorhead will prevail in the end.

JanJet Predicts: Moorhead 3, Roseau 1

Lauren McQuillan can be reached at lmcquillan2023@gmail.com


Rankings Rankings Class 2A
1.Gentry Academy9.034
5.Hill Murray8.667
6.Holy Family8.107
7.Maple Grove7.926
8.Centennial / SLP7.800
10.Benilde - St. Margaret's7.704
Rankings Class 1A
3.South St. Paul7.533
5.Proctor / Hermantown7.433
6.Mound Westonka / SWC7.111
7.Holy Angels6.963
8.Duluth Marshall6.926
10.Mankato East6.655


The Herb Brooks Foundation

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