The road to St. Paul begins for boys high school hockey teams throughout Minnesota as section play begins this week. Here's a preview of the eight Class A sections, with rankings according to the publication Let's Play Hockey.
In Section 1, the top seeded Rochester Lourdes Eagles have won five of their last six games and shook off a three game skid in mid-season. Look out for the second seeded Mankato West Scarlets and the third seeded New Prague Trojans.
The Section 2 pairings have not yest been posted but the Breck Mustangs, in all likelihood will be the number one seed. The second ranked team in Class A , they have lost only one game since the calendar changed to 2013, losing only to St. Thomas Academy.
The top seed in Section 3 is the Luverne Cardinals. They're on a six game winning streak, coming off a win against Minnehaha Academy. Can they make their first trip to state by dethroning the defending section champion New Ulm Eagles and putting out the third seeded Litchfield Draons fire?
In Section 4, the top seeded and defending Class A champion St. Thomas Academy Cadets are looking to leave the class on a winning note before moving to Class AA next season. First order of business is to get through the section and second seeded Mahtomedi, third seeded Totino-Grace and fourth seeded St. Paul Academy.
Going to Section 5, where the top seeded and third ranked Hermantown Hawks have the talent to once again fly down I-35 to St. Paul. The second seeded St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders beat the Hawks in overtime in the regular season so they could be on a crusade for a possible rematch in the section finals.
The top two seeds in Section 7 are both from Duluth. The Denfeld Hunters are the top seed and the Marshall Hilltoppers are second. Both teams met in the regular season with the Hunters shooting down the Hilltoppers 8-1. Will it be an All-Duluth section final or will third seeded Hibbing/Chisholm or fourth seeded Virginia emerge?
Saving the best section for last is Section 8, which has three solid contenders for the section crown. The top seeded East Grand Forks Green Wave beat the second seeded Thief River Falls Prowlers in regular season play so a rematch could be possible in the section finals. But wait, there's the third seeded Warroad Warriors, 4-0-2 in overtime this season. The bad news is they lost to both EGF and TRF this season. The good news is they could have a good tournament and like their feamle counterparts, make a return trip to the X . Take your pick. This should be a great section.
The Class AA section preview is next.