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Familiarity is the theme atop MN Girls' Hockey Hub's 2020 Way-Too-Early Top-10 rankings

By Loren Nelson, SportsEngine , 02/25/20, 7:00PM CST


Championship-game foes appear poised for encore performance in Class 2A. See next season's contenders in both classes, and the potential finalists for the Ms. Hockey and Senior Goalie of the Year awards.

It's way too early to know if Edina will be a step ahead of Andover next season, but our best guess is yes — by a fraction. Photo by Gary Mukai, SportsEngine

It's way too early to know if Edina will be a step ahead of Andover next season, but our best guess is yes — by a fraction. Photo by Gary Mukai, SportsEngine

The sweat, saliva and tears haven’t yet dried after a thrilling conclusion to the state tournament. Does that make it too early to make predictions for the coming season?

It’s WAY too early to serve up opinions for the 2020-21 season, but of course this hasn’t stopped us before. So here we go with our latest installment of our way-too-early rankings.

First, though, a word of warning: We think next season will end in eerily similar fashion to this one, which is to say we’re not going to go wild with wacky predictions involving off-the-grid-long-shot teams. 

Oh, and we hope you enjoyed Saturday's Class 2A championship showdown between Andover and Edina because that matchup very well might be appointment viewing in late February for years to come. 

Way-Too-Early Class 2A Top 10

1. Edina

Key losses: Tella Jungels, Katie Davis, Lucy Bowlby

This is the golden age of girls’ hockey in Edina, where cake is the entree of choice and championship trophies are as abundant as leaves on a maple tree. The Hornets had won three straight state titles before losing to Andover in last Saturday’s title game. Call it a minor interruption of your regularly scheduled programming, as the Hornets appear poised for another title run next season with the return of leading scorers Emma Conner and Hannah Chorske, who will both be seniors, and standout defender Vivian Jungels, who just wrapped her sophomore season. As for the most important position of all, Uma Corniea, arguably the state’s top goaltender, will be a sophomore.

2. Andover

Key losses: Jamie Nelson, Amanda Pelkey, Kennedy Little, Elisebeth Tammi

This should serve as juicy bulletin-board (are bulletin boards even a thing anymore?) material for the Huskies, as they can play the no-respect card to start next season: “We’re picked No. 2? Even though we are the defending state champions returning oodles of top-caliber players?” Correct on both counts. Amazingly, after senior leading scorer Jamie Nelson, the Huskies look to return their next nine top scorers. Nine! The Big Three of Peyton Hemp, Madison Kaiser and Gabby Krause lead the parade of returning standouts.

3. Maple Grove

Key losses: McKayla Machlitt, Chloe Corbin, Sam Nordstrom

Who can challenge Edina and Andover at the top? Who knows? We submit the Crimson as the best of the rest, largely because of the return of Lauren Stenslie and Tristana Tatur — a pair of 20-goal scorers capable of shredding opposing defenses as quickly as you can say well-placed-one-timer. Freshman Stella Retrum emerged as a scoring threat this past season, too, giving Maple Grove a potentially lethal top line. Brooke Cassibo’s return in goal — she played almost all the minutes — provides yet another boost.

4. Wayzata

Key losses: Sophie Urban, Addy Hackley, Sara Aadalen, Allie Skoro, Ruby Moss, Micah Bergeron

We begin a run of three straight Lake Conference teams that are usually separated by no more than an eyelash, leading with the Trojans who threw a surprise scare at Edina in a section final before losing by a goal. Gretchen Branton, a junior, and Sloane Matthews, a sophomore, each had more than 20 goals this past season as Wayzata’s top scorers. Both are committed to play at Clarkson. Mallory Coffin, who will be a junior next season, should help anchor the defense in front of either goaltender Annika Lavender or Julia Kimlinger, who shared time with Bergeron in goal as a junior this past season.

5. Eden Prairie

Key losses: Sydney Langseth, Nora Wagner, Carrie ByrnesClaire Kuipers

Losing Langseth, one of five Ms. Hockey finalists, hurts. A lot. The return of Grace Kuipers, a likely contender for Ms. Hockey next season, helps. A lot. Call it a wash. The Eagles’ secret weapon is goaltender Molly Goergen, who played every minute last season as a junior, posting four shutouts. OK, Goergen’s steady play isn’t much of a secret, but her return — along with Kuipers’ — is enough to keep perennially strong Eden Prairie among the state’s top 10 despite the loss of several top players beyond Langseth.

6. Minnetonka

Key losses: Lacey Martin, Maggie Nicholson, Emily Bayless, Kylie Melz, Josie Helling, Mandi Soderholm

The losses are plentiful, but then so is the talent in a Minnetonka program that had its dynasty run of three straight titles from 2011-13. Defender Rory Guilday and her 80-mph slapshot is as good a player as any to build a team around, and Grace Sadura appears to be the next great Skipper forward. Defender Hanna Baskin (Minnesota Duluth), goaltender Brynn Dulac (Cornell) and forward Kayley Crawford (Harvard) join Cornell-committed Guilday as players who will be seniors with Division I commitments.

7. Benilde-St. Margaret’s

Key losses: Rose Beeman

Incredibly, Beeman, a goaltender who shared time with junior Carly Greene this past season, projects to be the Red Knights’ lone loss as she'll be graduating. That gives Benilde-St. Margaret’s, which suffered just seven regular-season losses and fell to Edina in the semifinals of the section playoffs, instant entry in our way-too-early top 10. Juniors Olivia Haag (Boston University), Abby Hancock (Brown) and Anna Podein (Vermont), and sophomore Sophie Melsness (Merrimack) are among the top returnees, a list headlined by scoring leader Mary Zavoral, who will be a junior next season.

8. Blake

Key losses: Lily Delianedis, Adelaide Burton, Audrey Wethington, Ava Christie, Grace Johnson

The Bears will lose a whopping 92 regular-season goals to graduation this spring, leaving the scoring cupboard nothing short of ransacked. But Blake is one of those gold-standard programs that replaces elite players with elite players, which is to say we’re not expecting much of a dropoff.  Among the Bears’ 13 underclassmen this past season were sophomore goaltender Molly Haag and freshman forward Suzy Higuchi, the team’s top returning goal scorer. Elizabeth Morrison, who will be a sophomore next season, has the most points of any returner and defender Julia Blum, a Brown commit, will be a junior standout.

9. Stillwater

Key losses: Lauren Einan, Haley Eder-Zdechlik, Lexie Ligday, Grace Roeske 

What to think about the Ponies? Two top veteran scorers will graduate in Einan and Eder-Zdechlik, but two remain in Morgan Wohlers and Alexis Huber, who will be seniors next season. Return eighth-grade scoring phenom Josie St. Martin and freshman defender Kylie Ligday to the mix and Stillwater might just have the scoring punch and defensive wherewithal to get past section nemesis Hill-Murray next season. Junior goaltender Sophie Cronk, who played the majority of minutes, adds another measure of stability.

10. Hill-Murray

Key losses: Nina Steigauf, Alex Belde, Gracie Sevigny, Rachel Kennedy, Ameila Jutz

Here’s another bluebood program that seemingly has taken up permanent residence in both the top 10 and at the state tournament. Junior Ava Stinnett seems perfectly capable of filling the role of scoring wizard held last season by Steigauf, and Olivia Boyer, a forward, and Allie Franco, a defender committed to Minnesota, will also have increased responsibilities in their junior seasons.

The Next 5:

11. Burnsville
12. Apple Valley
13. North Wright County
14. Forest Lake
15. Roseau

Class 1A’s Way-Too-Early Top 10

1. Breck
2. Warroad
3. South St. Paul
4. Proctor/Hermantown
5. Mound Westonka
6. Chisago Lakes
7. Orono
8. Willmar
9. Duluth Marshall
10. Luverne

Just missed: Fergus Falls, Hutchinson, Mahtomedi, Mankato West, River Lakes, Rochester Lourdes, East Grand Forks

Ms. Hockey finalists

Listed in alphabetical order

Gretchen Branton, Wayzata
Hannah Chorske, Edina
Emma Conner, Edina
Makenna Deering, South St. Paul
Maren Friday, Duluth Marshall
Rachel Golnitz, Forest Lake
Rory Guilday, Minnetonka
Sophie Helgeson, Roseau
Peyton Hemp, Andover
Geno Hendrickson, Warroad
Gabby Krause, Andover
Grace Kuipers, Eden Prairie
Jenna Lawry, Chisago Lakes
Sadie Lindsay, Breck
Emily Zumwinkle, Breck

Others: Maggie Hanzel (Rochester Lourdes), Bailey Olson (Willmar), Lauren Stenslie (Maple Grove), Tristana Tatur (Maple Grove), Claire Vekich (Grand Rapids/Greenway), Mary Zavoral (Benilde-St. Margaret’s).

Senior Goalie of the Year

Listed in alphabetical order

Brooke Cassibo, Maple Grove
Brynn Dulac, Minnetonka
Molly Goergen, Eden Prairie

Girls' Hockey Hub Headlines

  • Lakeville South shuts out Eastview

  • By Ethan Olson, SportsEngine 02/02/2023, 3:15pm CST
  • Junior Claire Bronson recorded her seventh shutout of the season while sophomore Josie Grossman tallied two assists.
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