We task our reporters with identifying several intriguing games throughout the state to assemble our Top Games of the Week. The matchups are presented in no particular order, and when there are additional games we want to highlight, we’ll include them with brief notes.
The Skippers and Hornets have been two of the best teams in Class 2A for the past half decade. There's no doubt about it considering Edina has won four of the last five Class 2A state championships and Minnetonka has finished third in the same class in 2019 and 2020.
These teams are once again the ones to beat in the Lake Conference and face each other on Jan. 15 in the second of three meetings this regular season.
The Skippers won the first matchup (a nonconference tilt) with a 3-2 overtime victory at the Hornets' rink in the semifinals of the Walser Invite on Dec. 28. Minnetonka has remained so dominant this season that it has only lost twice, both to the same Andover team that is No. 1 in the Class 2A coaches' poll released Jan. 5.
Leading the way for the No. 2-2A Skippers are Grace Sadura (18 goals, 18 assists) and Ava Lindsay (11 goals, 20 assists). Each player has 31 or more points, averaging more than two per game. Both had a point in the previous matchup with Edina, and Molly Ryan (12 goals, 12 assists) notched the game-winner.
As for the No. 3-2A Hornets, they're not all too far behind. Their lone loss this season was at the hands of the Skippers — one they would like to avenge on Saturday.
The way Edina achieves that success is through Vivian Jungels (9 goals, 19 assists), who had two points in earlier matchup with the Skippers. She has 28 points this season and anchors the top of the Hornets' lineup with Hannah Halverson (12 goals, 12 assists) and Berit Lindborg (8 goals, 14 assists).
Another conference matchup, this time between two Lake Superior Conference foes, but this game brings intrigue because of some individual stars on either side of the ice.
Grand Rapids-Greenway had shown signs of being able to take that next step and advance past the section playoffs to the state tournament, but has run into tough competition, especially last season, falling to Andover in the Class 2A, Section 7 tournament. One major loss that came to the Lightning after last season was the departure of top scorer Claire Vekich, who now plays collegiately at Bemidji State.
Taking up the reins at the top of the scoresheet for the Lightning has been Mercury Bischoff, a standout for Grand Rapids-Greenway since she was a seventh-grader. Bischoff leads the squad this year with 36 points and 24 goals, the latter of which had her tied for eighth place in the state goal scoring race (as of Jan. 7).
Bischoff and the Lightning will face a formidable Duluth Marshall team led by Annika Lindgren, who has 24 assists this season — a mark that was tied for seventh place on the state's assist leaderboard as of Jan. 7. Lindgren will need to dish the puck to her team's leading goal scorer, Ilsa Lindaman (15 goals, 12 assists), to get the No. 7-1A Hilltoppers past the Lightning on Jan. 11.
Albert Lea enters the week with a 7-7-1 overall record, and the Tigers have a chance to knock off a ranked opponent and secure a signature victory when they visit a streaking Luverne team on Tuesday.
Morgan Goskeson has 16 goals in 13 games this year for the Tigers, and her scoring will be needed as Albert Lea faces one of the state's best scorers.
Kamryn Van Batavia has been one of the best players in the state for the past few seasons and is showing her skills this season. She has a whopping 53 goals in 16 games this season, which leads the state entering the week. She also has a state-best 35 assists and leads the state in points (93).
Centennial/Spring Lake Park vs. Holy Family Catholic, 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 15. Centennial/Spring Lake Park has seen its hot start cool over the holiday break, and it will look to reignite against a streaking Holy Family Catholic squad.
Rosemount vs. Lakeville South, 2:45 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 15. The No. 4-2A Cougars recently leap-frogged the No. 5-2A Irish in the coaches' poll, and this game between South Suburban Conference rivals will go a long way toward proving if the rankings are correct or if there needs to be some more shuffling.
The MN Girls' Hockey Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.