Andover's Jaime Nelson, shown in a game last year against Maple Grove, is among the top-ranked Huskies' leading scores. Photo: Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Several games pitting top-ranked teams against one another have produced some intriguing results already this season.
Andover entered the week atop the Let’s Play Hockey coaches’ poll thanks to a 4-3 opening night victory against previously No. 1 Edina. The Huskies began this week 4-0 but will soon be tested by a run of games against No. 11 Blaine, No. 18 Centennial, No. 8 Maple Grove and No. 12 Minnetonka. Jamie Nelson, Gabby Krause (11 points each) and Peyton Hemp (10) lead the Huskies in scoring.
The trio still face two games with Elk River/Zimmerman. The Elks are led by senior forward Kelsey King, who started as fast as any player with nine goals and seven assists for 16 points, tops among teams reporting statistics in the metro area.
And what’s sure to be a great postseason warmup for both teams awaits Feb. 1 when Andover travels to Blake Ice Arena in Hopkins.
No. 2 Edina rebounded from the Andover loss to defeat Section 6 rival Blake 4-3. The two-time defending state champion Hornets’ offense has been hot since, outscoring four opponents by a combined score of 26-4. CC Bowlby leads her team with seven goals, followed by Annie Kuehl and Katie Davis with six apiece. Mallory Uihlein has contributed 11 assists.
Edina augments its grueling Lake Conference schedule — two games each against No. 4 Wayzata, No. 5 Eden Prairie, No. 12 Minnetonka — with a Dec. 1 game against No. 6 Hill-Murray and a Jan. 18 rematch at home against Blake.
A difficult early schedule hasn’t flustered No. 3 Blake, which is 6-1 and defeated No. 10 White Bear Lake, No. 4 Wayzata, No. 5 Eden Prairie and Proctor/Hermantown (No. 3 in 1A). Four Bears have recorded double-digits in points: Addie Burton (14), Lily Delianedis (14), Madeline Wethington (13) and Izzy Daniel (13).
Future tests for Blake include a Jan. 29 trip to No. 7 Forest Lake and the Section 6 playoffs. With the emergence of Wayzata, a Blake-Edina rematch for the title is no longer assured.
In Class 1A, defending state champion Breck has taken a coaching change in stride. The Mustangs lost coach Ronda (Curtin) Engelhardt, now a co-head coach of the Minnesota Whitecaps in the National Women’s Hockey League. But interim coach Keith Radloff has led them to a 5-0 start and No. 1 ranking. Four of those five victories came against Class 2A programs.
And there is no schedule relief in sight, not that a state championship-hopeful minds. On Friday, Warroad, the team Breck beat in overtime to win the state title last February, comes to Anderson Ice Arena in Golden Valley. Upcoming opponents include Edina, Andover, Wayzata and two meetings with conference rival Blake.