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.
It may still not feel like it, but Gentry Academy participates in Class 2A competition, not Class 1A like the Stars did when they first burst onto the high school hockey scene in 2020.
On the face of it, this matchup with Duluth Marshall looks like a classic case of two Class 1A powers looking to usurp the usual suspects atop the mountain (*ahem* Warroad). Instead, this becomes an intriguing matchup of a Gentry Academy team looking to keep its footing at the end of its first season elevated to Class 2A and a Duluth Marshall team that is ranked and looking to keep a strong standing into the end of the regular season.
The Stars are once again led by Cara Sajevic, a standout from last season's run to the Class 1A state championship game. Sajevic has a whopping 29 goals — 20 more than her next closest teammate.
The Hilltoppers, ranked No. 8 in the Jan. 19 Class 1A coaches' poll, will combat the Stars' attack with more scoring, thanks to Ilsa Lindaman. Lindaman has 22 goals this season — 11 more than her next closest teammate.
Another cross-class matchup? This one pins No. 1-1A Warroad against No. 1-2A Andover.
Each team has remained at the top of the rankings for much of the season, but each team has yet to face one another, and this is a prime matchup with the Warriors making the trek to the Twin Cities for a unique matchup.
The Warriors impress with another Hendrickson gracing the roster, this time leading the team on her own. Talya Hendrickson was once paired with her older sister Geno, who has since moved on to play collegiately with Franklin Pierce.
Talya Hendrickson, though, has done enough to dominate on her own. She has 36 assists, good for third in the state as of Jan. 21, and 57 total points, another top-10 mark on the state leaderboard. Her teammate Kate Johnson never fell behind her with 56 points of her own and 30 goals.
For the Huskies, the offensive impact is largely spread out. Andover has three players with 12 or more goals. Where the difference is really seen, though, is in goal.
Huskies goaltender Courtney Stagman has a 1.18 goals against average and .939 save percentage, as of Jan. 21. Her goals against average ranks fourth in the state and her save percentage is eighth. With those dominating numbers, plus five shutouts, it means Warroad's bonafide scorers will need to be dialed in for this matchup.
In yet another Twin Cities against northern Minnesota matchup, Chisago Lakes taking on No. 10-1A Cloquet-Esko-Carlton could be the best one yet.
The Wildcats are not ranked like the Lumberjacks, but they still pack quite a punch each season.
This season is really a one-two punch of two players that are easy to mix up: Danielle Burgen and Danielle Brunette. Thankfully, they're the only two players named 'Danielle' on the team, but it still doesn't make up for the fact that these two have driven the offensive play for Chisago all season.
Burgen is the overall points leader with 54, highlighted by 33 goals, also a team lead as of Jan. 21. Brunette has 44 points, but Burgen has the team assist lead with 24.
The Lumberjacks will have to combat with their stellar goaltender Araya Kiminski. Kiminski has held down the net with a 1.51 goals against average and a .914 save percentage, as of Jan. 21.
Lakeville South vs. Lakeville North, 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29. This cross-town matchup is sure to excite, especially with Lakeville South going through a dominant season in 2021-22.
Moorhead vs. Fergus Falls, 7:15 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31. Fergus Falls has quietly put together a successful season, sitting with a No. 7-1A ranking. Moorhead is one of the best teams in northwestern Minnesota and this game could earn some regional bragging rights.
Burnsville vs. Rosemount, 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29. The South Suburban Conference is very top heavy. Two of the four teams with a winning record in the conference face off as the Blaze look to gain more room over the Irish as the regular season comes to a close.
The MN Girls' Hockey Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.