Mike Rand, Star Tribune
The girls' hockey state tournament starts Wednesday and kicks off a five-week frenzy of high school sports activity. The first puck drops at 11 a.m. at Xcel Energy Center when two-time defending small-school champion Warroad faces newcomer Detroit Lakes in a Class 1A quarterfinal. Here are the things you should know as the tournament gets going:
Led by two-time defending champion Warroad, six of the eight Class 1A teams return from last year's state field. In Class 2A, only Edina and Minnetonka return for another shot at the title. In total, 15 of the 16 teams have made at least one state tournament appearance. Detroit Lakes is the lone exception. Mounds View is playing in its first state tournament since 1999.
Marvin Levison, Star Tribune
Three of the five Let’s Play Hockey Ms. Hockey finalists are competing in the tournament: forward Hanna Brodt (Roseville) and defensemen Milica McMillen (Breck, above) and Lee Stecklein (Roseville). Both McMillen and Stecklein were also Star Tribune All-Metro first-team selections and they are joined in the tournament by another player from that team, Roseville forward Kate Flug. In addition, three of the five finalists for Let’s Play Hockey’s Senior Goalie of the Year are in action: Erika Allen (Roseville), Maddie Dahl (Edina) and Taylor Neisen (Breck).
Marlin Levison, Star Tribune
Both Warroad and Minnetonka return to defend their titles but there’s similar pressure on Edina to finish the job. The Hornets finished second the past two seasons, to Roseville in 2010 and against Minnetonka last year. Edina coach Laura Slominski said the team had to change hotels this time around but she hopes a different environment will produce a better result. “We’ve addressed it but if we focus too much on it we’ll go out there with our hands around our neck,” Slominski said.
Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune
Warroad is bidding to become the first school in either class to win three consecutive state tournaments. Roseville can become the first single-class or 2A champion to win four state titles. South St. Paul (shown above) won three Class 2A titles and a fourth in 1A, where the Packers currently compete.
Five players in the tournament helped the U.S. Under-18 team win a silver medal at the world tournament in January in the Czech Republic: Flug, Stecklein, Molly Illikainen (Grand Rapids/Greenway, above), Sam LaShomb (South St. Paul) and Kate Schipper (Breck).