We’re back with Day 2 of our state tournament preview by taking a look at the teams in Class A.
Hermantown comes in as the heavy favorite but it won’t be that easy considering it has to worry about defending champs, St. Thomas Academy, a high-octane Breck and a pesky Thief River Falls in its way to Class A supremacy.
Here’s a glance at all eight teams:
1. Hermantown (28-0):
-The Skinny: Hermantown rolled through Class A this year with absolute ease. Last year’s second-place team is looking to finish first and make amends for losing to St. Thomas Academy in one of the more entertaining games on either side of the bracket last season. Every major power has its engine and with Hermantown it indeed is Jared Thomas (Minnesota-Duluth). Thomas leads Hermantown with 77 points (26 goals, 51 assists) this season making him one of the more dominant players in Class A.
-Player to watch: Goaltender Matt Mensinger is a guy to keep an eye on. He went 22-0 this year with a 1.30 GAA with a .940 GAA and five shutouts. Mensinger could be a major part of Hermantown’s run to success given his 6-3 frame and strong numbers.
-Number of appearances: Hermantown is making its ninth state tournament appearance and has won the state tournament once (2007).
2. St. Thomas Academy (23-5):
-The Skinny: Last year’s defending state champ comes back with another realistic chance at picking up a second straight title. STA lost its big guns from last season but certainly has the balanced scoring to make it a threat to Hermantown, the favorite to win the title this season. STA’s strength has been its balanced scoring considering it has eight or more players who scored at least 20 points this season. Alex Johnson and Peter Kreiger finished tied for the regular season lead in points with 39 while Andrew Commers led STA with seven points in the section playoffs.
-Player to watch: Defenseman Eric Schurhamer (Maine) has been arguably the strongest two-way threat in Class A this season. Schurhamer has 42 points (15 goals, 27 assists) in 28 games making him one of STA’s threats on offense. On defense, he’s this team’s No. 1 d-man and plays on everything from the power play to the penalty kill.
-Number of appearances: St. Thomas Academy has made six appearances at the state tournament and has won state three times (2006, 2008 and 2011).
3. Breck School (24-3-1):
-The Skinny: Breck survived a thrilling 7-5 win over Blake to win the section title and return to state with one of the more powerful lineups in Class A this season. If any team has a lot to prove this year, it might be these guys. Breck was taken down in the first round by Thief River Falls, which at the time was considered an upset. TRF went on to finish third in the tournament. A year older, Breck appears its ready to use what its learned the last year to its advantage and really send a message to everyone else in the tournament this season. Like STA, Breck has balanced scoring but with this group, it has four players with 50 or more points in the regular season.
-Player to watch: There’s many to choose but we’ll take Keegan Iverson. As a freshman, he’s making his second state tournament appearance but will it be his last? There has been talk about Iverson going to play with Portland (WHL) next season though a decision hasn’t been made. Iverson caught many eyes last year using his 6-3 frame and skating ability to move around the ice with ease. He’s added offense to his game scoring 44 points in 26 games heading into the tournament.
-Number of appearances: Breck is making its ninth state tournament appearance having won the tournament four times (2000, 2004, 2009 and 2010).
4. Thief River Falls (22-4-2)
-The skinny: TRF might have been one of the better stories of last season’s tournament. The Prowlers surprised many by beating Breck and then sticking with STA until the very end in the second round. TRF pulled off a win to finish third keeping many people on notice for what next season could bring. All this team has done is have one of the better seasons in recent program history in the hopes of bringing home another trophy.
-Player to watch: Jon Narverud could be the key here. He was part of last season’s run which used multiple goaltenders at the tournament. This year it appears Narverud is the No. 1 guy. He went 18-1-1 with a 1.66 GAA between the regular season and the section playoffs.
-Number of appearances: Thief River Falls is making its 12th state tournament appearance having won the tournament twice (1954, 1956).
5. New Ulm (17-11)
-The skinny: The first round hasn’t been kind to New Ulm having been trounced by double-digit goals last season against St. Thomas Academy. Considering how Thief River Falls has played as of late, there’s a chance it could be another ugly game. Give them credit. For a team comprised of six schools, they’ve found a way to get down to St. Paul for the third year in a row.
-Player to watch: Dylan Schreckenberg is a guy to pay attention to. He was tied for second in points (46) in the regular season and came alive in the section playoffs scoring nine points.
-Number of appearances: New Ulm is making its fourth state tournament appearance.
6. Little Falls (19-9)
-The skinny: Nothing like returning to The Tourney and getting a crack at the defending state champions. That’s what Little Falls faces in the first round. Little Falls, sadly, represents what is a harsh reality for teams in this bracket. Teams who work hard, have a good season yet barring an upset faces a Goliath in St. Thomas Academy. Little Falls beat section opponents in the playoffs by an average of 7-1. Something says that might not happen against St. Thomas.
-Player to watch: Joey Hanowski led this team in scoring with 43 points in the regular season and an astounding 14 points in the section playoffs.
-Number of appearances: Little Falls is making its sixth state tournament appearance.
7. Duluth Marshall (21-7):
-The skinny: If there’s a safe bet for a potential upset in these playoffs, this could be the team to pick. Marshall’s had a really strong season and a ton scoring this year too. Marshall hasn’t been at the state tournament for a few years but don’t be too shocked if this year’s group can be this year’s Thief River Falls in regards to being a team which could surprise a few people. That said, don’t be too surprised if the uber-talented Breck runs away with this game too.
-Player to watch: Judd Peterson (St. Cloud State) without doubt is the player to focus on with Marshall. He scored 79 points in 28 games this season including an impressive 44 goals between the regular season and the playoffs.
-Number of appearances: Duluth Marshall is making its sixth state tournament appearance.
8. Rochester Lourdes (20-8)
-The skinny: Oh Lourdes. Lourdes gets the honor of trying to beat Hermantown and turn this tournament upside down. Lourdes is returning for the fifth straight season to the state tournament. The plan is to avoid what happened in last year’s first round when it was treated not-so-nicely to open the tournament.
-Player to watch: Landon Farrell and Jason Samuelson led this team in scoring in the regular season and the playoffs. They’ll need to be on their “A” game to help Lourdes this tournament.
-Number of appearances: Rochester Lourdes is making its eight state tournament appearance.