It’s around three weeks into the girls’ hockey season, which quietly started amid all of the focus on the fall state tournaments. Now that the fall uniforms are packed away and everyone is headed indoors for most of their sporting events, it’s a good time to see how things are shaking out in the west metro, which has been a hotbed for girls’ hockey since the sport took hold two decades ago.
Teams to beat: Class 2A
Can it be the entire Lake Conference? Teams from the league — Minnetonka, Edina, Wayzata and Eden Prairie — are holding down Nos. 2 through 5 in the Class 2A state rankings. Through Tuesday, those four teams had a combined record of 16-1-1.
Based on early results, Wayzata has been the rabbit in this race, setting a fast past. The Trojans’ Natalie Heising leads the conference in scoring through midweek with 15 points. Goalie Sarah Stelter has been almost unbeatable, with four shutouts in five games and an amazing .991 save percentage.
Edina is close behind, Minnetonka has unparalleled depth and Eden Prairie boasts a deep defensive core. And don’t sleep on Hopkins, which has the offense to win a shootout with anyone.
Looking for a dark horse? Try Buffalo. The experienced Bison shook off a season-opening dud of a loss to Chaska/Chanhassen and won three consecutive games, including a 5-2 victory over Hopkins. With two Division I recruits — forward Abby Halluska (Bemidji St.) and defenseman Allison Roethke (Quinnipiac) — Buffalo has the look of a serious contender.
Teams to Beat: Class 1A
Who else but Blake and Breck? Or should it be Breck and Blake? The private school rivals have started strong, with each suffering its only loss of the season to a quality opponent. Blake lost to defending Class 2A champion Hill-Murray 3-1 and Breck fell in a 7-6 shootout at Warroad.
Both teams can overwhelm opponents offensively, but Breck has twice the backstops in goalies Jenna Brenneman and Sydney Scobee, both juniors with Division I offers. Round 1 in this argument will take place Dec. 12, when the two teams meet at Breck.
Dark horse? Mound-Westonka. Always look for goaltending in this category and the White Hawks have a good one in junior Emma Polusny. She posted a .918 save percentage last season, and she’s been even better so far this year with a .953.
The best so far
Individual: Blake senior Carly Bullock has been amazing through the first five games, scoring 13 goals, including three hat tricks.
Best line: Chaska/Chanhassen’s line of Sofia Poinar centering Lydia Passolt and Mollie Wise already has racked up 50 points in seven games.
Goalie tandem: With apologies to the Breck goalies, Maple Grove will go as far junior goalies Coco Francis and Breanna Blesi go. The two give the Crimson a great chance to win every game.
Game: The most entertaining game came on opening night, when Chaska/Chanhassen and Holy Family/Waconia engaged in a wild one. The StormHawks held four different leads, only to allow Holy Family/Waconia to tie the score each time. Chaska/Chanhassen eventually pulled out a 7-6 victory on a power-play goal by Sofia Poinar at 3:45 of overtime.
Jim Paulsen • 612-673-7737