Jane Kuehl is one of Edina's expected returners for the 2019-20 season. She's part of the reason the Hornets sit atop the MN Girls Hockey Hub's Way-Too-Early Class 2A rankings. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
With the 2018-19 girls' hockey season finished, we thought now is a good time for an early look at next season.
Many of the teams that competed at this year's state tournament are likely to be in the mix for a return trip when the postseason begins in February 2020.
To help provide a roadmap, the MN Girls' Hockey Hub put together its Way-Too-Early Top-10 Rankings for each class. We also compiled a list of possible Ms. Hockey and Senior Goalie of the Year award candidates.
Feel free to criticize or critique our order in the comments below, but keep it nice and clean. Remember: Your mother raised you to be better than that!
How can you pick against the Hornets at this point? They are three-time defending Class 2A champions. Though it will graduate its top two scorers in CC Bowlby and Annie Kuehl, Edina has the depth and talent to reload quickly. Harvard commit Katie Davis finished with 32 points last season and should step up to be a senior leader, a role in which she could be joined by a pair of Minnesota commits who are also coming off impressive seasons. Tella Jungels tallied 30 points this year and the junior forward notched a goal in the state championship win over Brainerd/Little Falls, while Vivian Jungels, her sister, had 37 points as a freshman defender and matched her by also scoring in the game against the Warriors. Finding someone to fill the hole in goal may be Edina's biggest challenge. Senior Elli Strittmater will graduate after stopping 44 of 48 shots in this year's state tournament.
After defeating Edina 2-1 on Jan. 18, Blake looked as if it was the team to beat heading into the Class 2A, Section 6 tournament. But the Bears couldn't swat away the Hornets in the postseason and were left to feel the sting of missing state for the second consecutive year. Despite the graduation of Ms. Hockey winner Madeline Wethington and all-state forward Izzy Daniel, Blake looks to be loaded once again, giving the Bears a roster that can contend with Edina. Lily Delianedis, a Cornell commit, should carry over to her senior year a deft ability for amassing points — she registered a team-high 69 points this season. Audrey Wethington (13-15-28) and Addie Burton (25-31-56) are equally skilled at scoring and provide Blake a plethora of offensive options that make the Bears a formidable foe.
Andover came up just short of making the Class 2A title game this year, but the Huskies are primed to make another run to the Xcel Energy Center next season with a young but talented group filling the roster. Andover looks to return 11 of 12 players who finished the season with double-digit points, highlighted by Peyton Hemp, a Minnesota commit who led the team with 63 points as a sophomore. The group also includes Jamie Nelson (19-39-58) and Gabby Krause (27-22-49). That kind of offensive firepower may help ease the potential pains accompanying the process of replacing graduating goaltender Cassidy Stumo, who posted a .911 save percentage this past season.
Key loss: Elizabeth Valley
Forest Lake had a heartbreaking finish to the season, losing 4-3 in overtime to Andover in the Class 2A, Section 7 final. But blazing a path through the postseason en route to the state tournament doesn't seem daunting for a Rangers team that should return five of the team's six top scorers. Brooke Remington, Ashley Mills and Brieja Parent look to be at the head of the pack after combining for 126 points this season. Forest Lake also boasts experience with goalie Allyn Goehner (25-3-0, six shutouts, 1.75 goals-against average, .912 save percentage) returning to backstop the defense and she should be in the mix for the Senior Goalie of the Year award.
Brainerd/Little Falls made the most of its first trip to the state tournament as the Warriors reached the championship game, where they pushed Edina to two overtimes in a 4-3 loss. Replicating that run may be difficult with the loss of several key pieces, such as goaltender Olivia King and leading scorer Abby Pohlkamp. But don't discount the experience gained by Brainerd/Little Falls' returning players. Senior Gabbie Smith led the Warriors with 39 points and the Bemidji State commit had a goal and five assists at state. Fellow Class of 2020 standout Sophie Robinson will be key on the blue line for a Warriors squad that allowed just two total goals in its first two state games.
Minnetonka nearly knocked off rival Edina in the Class 2A tournament semifinals while appearing at state for the first time since 2015, and the Skippers look to return plenty of players who should make the team a force to be reckoned with next season. Minnetonka's success starts with all-state defender Maggie Nicholson, who helped the Skippers post a 2.24 goals-against average in the regular season. Up front, Minnetonka has a major weapon in forward Lacey Martin. In her junior season, the Boston University commit tallied a team-best 52 points, including seven in the state tournament.
After graduating Crystalyn Hengler and Alexa Dobchuk from an Eden Prairie team that reached the state tournament in 2018, the Eagles rebounded nicely and nearly made it back to the X this year. They reached the Class 2A, Section 2 championship but lost to Minnetonka 3-1. With its four top scorers poised to return for another campaign, Eden Prairie should compete with the Skippers in the highly-competitive Lake Conference and also in the section playoffs. Sydney Langseth could be in the conversation regarding the list of Ms. Hockey candidates if the Minnesota State-Mankato commit can duplicate her junior season — which included a team-best 66 points. Princeton commit Grace Kuipers also enters her senior year after a spectacular 42-point effort this season.
Wayzata found life in the Lake Conference and in Section 6 (with Edina and Blake) in an uphill battle this season, and look for this young Trojans team to capitalize on being tested again in 2019-20. Led by Gretchen Branton and Sloane Matthews, who combined for 84 points this season, Wayzata may offer a surprise for unsuspecting foes.
The Crimson will have holes to fill next season with the graduation of forward Mannon McMahon and goaltender Lucy Morgan. However, the search may be short for a Maple Grove program that gets back forward Lauren Stenslie, the top returning scorer from this season with 41 points. She had six goals and four assists in the state tournament and forms a dynamic duo with Tristana Tatur, a Quinnipiac commit who posted a 34-point season.
Key loss: Emily Roder
Keep an eye on the Sabers, who emerged this season and served notice they should be a team that can compete in the South Suburban Conference and Section 2 next year. Shakopee brings back plenty of experience, losing only two seniors to graduation, and has players to anchor both ends of the ice. Forward Paige McNeil is the team's top scorer with 34 points, while goaltender Brianna Eastman finished with a .908 save percentage.
North Wright County
3. South St. Paul
4. Mound Westonka
5. Rochester Lourdes/Dover-Eyota
7. Duluth Marshall
10. Thief River Falls
Honorable Mention: Delano/Rockford, Faribault
Mackenzie Bourgerie, North Wright County
Addie Burton, Blake
Hannah Corneliusen, Warroad
Katie Davis, Edina
Lilly Delianedis, Blake
Sydney Langseth, Eden Prairie
Khloe Lund, Thief River Falls
Olivia Mobley, Breck
Jamie Nelson, Andover
Taylor Nelson, Cloquet-Esko-Carlton
Maggie Nicholson, Minnetonka
Ally Qualley, Breck
Sophie Robinson, Brainerd/Little Falls
Kayla Santl, Roseau
Braelyn Sathers, Proctor/Hermantown
Emma Schmitz, Rochester Lourdes/Dover-Eyota
Mayson Toft, Alexandria
Olivia Williamson, Faribault
Keni Allen, Apple Valley
Rose Beeman, Benilde-St. Margaret's
Allyn Goehner, Forest Lake
Ava Patnode, Simley
Tag(s): Home MSHSL Conferences Central Lakes Alexandria Brainerd/Little Falls Greater Minnesota Roseau Thief River Falls Warroad IMAC Blake Breck Independents Rochester Lourdes Lake Eden Prairie Edina Minnetonka Wayzata Lake Superior Cloquet-Esko-Carlton Duluth Marshall Proctor/Hermantown Metro East Hill-Murray Mississippi 8 North Wright County Northwest Suburban Northwest Suburban - North Andover Maple Grove South Suburban Shakopee Suburban East Forest Lake