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.
Gentry Academy brings a high-powered offense against one of the top goaltenders for Holy Family Catholic in this non-conference contest of top-10 ranked teams in Class 2A.
Gentry Academy, ranked No. 2 in the Dec. 22 coaches’ poll, is 12-1 this season scoring over seven goals per game with a 35% power play, with its only loss of the season coming about a month ago in Warroad, ranked No. 1 in Class 1A this season.
Meanwhile, No. 7-2A Holy Family Catholic is 10-3-1 headed into the week, scoring just under four goals a game but allowing only 1.21 goals-against, ranking in the top-10 in the state.
Gentry Academy has dominated opponents this season, outscoring them 97-30, with their only one-goal margin of victory being a 4-3 win over Andover early in the year. With that many goals as a team (second in the state to Warroad), it’s not a surprise that five of its players have 20+ points this season.
Senior Grace Delmonico (18 goals, 15 assists) leads the way for the Stars and also has three power-play goals and three power-play assists. Senior Cara Sajevic (12 goals, 17 assists) is the team assists leader despite only playing in eight games; she played all three games in a holiday tournament, netting a hat trick in each of her last two games. Senior Rachel Agerter (10 goals, 14 assists), senior defenseman Jenessa Gazdik (nine goals, 15 assists) and senior defenseman JuliAnna Gazdik (six goals, 16 assists) round out the stat sheet.
Holy Family Catholic is 2-2-1 in its last five games, although the official tie was a shootout victory over Edina to get them into the championship game at the Walser Invitational over the holidays. The Fire lost that game 3-1 to Minnetonka, but the defense held its own as senior goaltender Sedona Blair (1.14 goals-against average, .954 save percentage) made a season-high 44 saves.
Blair and the Fire have five shutout victories this season and have only allowed two goals (of 17 total allowed) in the third period. Seniors Taylor Koeppl (three goals, 10 assists) and Justina Valentini (two goals, 10 assists) are the team’s leading scorers on the blue line.
Conference and section rivals take the ice in this one. River Lakes won the last meeting between the teams in last season's Class 1A, Section 6 championship, but Fergus Falls won the pair of regular-season meetings in Central Lakes Conference play. They’ll meet again in the regular-season finale on Feb. 2 at Fergus Falls.
Fergus Falls, ranked No. 11 in Class 1A, is 12-4 this season, taking a four-game winning streak into this game after a 3-0 record at the New Hope Arena Holiday Tournament. Two of their losses have come in overtime.
Senior Maddie Hutler (18 goals, 18 assists) ranks in the top-15 in the state in scoring. Hutler also has a team-high three power-play goals and two shorthanded goals. Senior Tyra Skjeret (13 goals, 14 assists) and freshman Hannah Johnson (nine goals, seven assists) round out the scoring at the top. Juniors Lexi Metcalf and Ana Jyrkas split time in goal with similar numbers – 6-2-0 record each, 1.60 (Metcalf) and 1.62 goals-against averages and two shutouts each.
No. 19-1A River Lakes, last season’s Class 1A consolation champion, heads into the New Year looking to snap a three-game skid. They’re 0-4-1 in their last five games, with their last victory coming Dec. 10 against Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato. Goal scoring hasn’t been quite as prominent, with 28 total goals as a team.
Thirteen of those 28 have come off the stick of sophomore Sophia Hess (13 goals, four assists), who’s scored three times on the power play and once shorthanded. Junior Aubree McDonagh (five goals, six assists) also has three power-play goals and three power-play assists.
Want another battle of closely ranked teams? Here it is. No. 5-1A Orono heads to No. 4-1A South St. Paul this week. Orono defeated South St. Paul twice last season, including in the Class 1A third place game at the state tournament.
Orono has had a couple of close 2-1 losses recently to Holy Angels and Mound Westonka/Southwest Christian but overall have another solid season developing. Seven of their nine victories have been shutouts, including three of their last four games.
That effort is led by senior Celia Dahl (.948 save percentage), who’s coached by Minnesota Whitecaps goalie Amanda Leveille. The Spartans are second in the state as a team in goals-against average (0.98). Their penalty kill is also a strong 91.9%, going 34-for-37. Junior Grace Bickett (two goals, 15 assists) and sophomore Alex Paulsen (four goals, 11 assists) are the blue line leaders.
For the Packers, this will be the second ranked matchup for them this week. They’ll first take on No. 6-1A Simley on Tuesday. The Packers haven’t lost in regulation since a 4-0 shutout loss to Hill-Murray on Dec. 3. The Packers also have a perfect penalty kill going, 26-for-26. Their goals-against average is also a decent 1.43 per game, mostly backstopped by senior Delaney Norman (1.32 goals-against average, .934 save percentage, four shutouts). Sophomore Lily Pachl (eight goals, 13 assists) leads defensemen and is tied for second on the team in scoring.
Blaine vs. Centennial/Spring Lake Park, 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 3. A Northwest Suburban Conference tilt at No. 12-2A Centennial/Spring Lake Park. The Cougars have lost only twice in regulation this season. Blaine has won four of its last five games.
Grand Rapids/Greenway vs. Brainerd/Little Falls, 7:15 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 3. A game between No. 20-2A Grand Rapids/Greenway and No. 17-2A Brainerd/Little Falls. Grand Rapids/Greenway sophomore Mercury Bischoff is one of the state points leaders (43 points) behind a trio of Warroad players.
Warroad vs. Edina, 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 6. A couple of hockey powerhouses in their respective classes meet in top-ranked Warroad for Class 1A and No. 4-2A Edina. Warroad averages more than seven goals a game and is all over the state leaderboard for individual points, led by Rylee Bartz (32 goals, 50 points). But Edina senior Uma Corniea has a 1.34 goals-against average.
The MN Girls' Hockey Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.