It's section time in Minnesota girls high school hockey as the road to St. Paul gets underway with previews of the eight Class A sections. Note: Rankings are compiled by hockey publication Let's Play Hockey.
Starting with Section 1, the top seeded Red Wing Wingers have been close to the top of the Class A rankings and are on a five game winning streak. But look out for the second seeded New Prague Trojans and the third seeded Northfield Raiders.
The top two seeds in Section 2, the Mound-Westonka Whitehawks and the Mankato East/Loyola Cougars played each other during the regular season with the Whitehawks winning 3-1. Could these two meet in the section finals as the Cougars aim to become the first Mankato-based team to head to state since 1999?
Section 3 has a familiar name as the top seed, The New Ulm Eagles. They have made it to the X four years in a row and are looking for number five. But the second seeded Luverne Cardinals, the only other team in the section with a winning record has not lost a game since Jan. 4 and has a chance to head down I-90 for their first trip to state.
Last year's Class A runner up, the South St. Paul Packers is the top seed in Section 4. They have gone 10-3-2 after a 1-4-1 start. Looking to dethrone the perennial power Packers are second seeded St. Paul United, the third seeded Totino-Grace Eagles and the fourth seeded Henry Sibley Warriors.
For years, Section 5 has been the toughest Class A section and this year is no exception as the Blake Bears have overcome adversity since the passing of long-time head coach Brano Stankovsky to earn the top seed. The Orono Spartans are seeded second and the defending state Class A champion Breck Mustangs are seeded third. The mustangs have won nine of their last 11 games. Who will come out of this section? It should be an interesting race with no photo finish.
The Section 6 pairings have not been posted but there are only two teams in the section with winning records. The Alexandria Cardinals and the Northern Lakes Lighting. It's been a hot and cold season for the Pequot Lakes based Lightning as they look for their first trip to St. Paul.
Also, the Section 7 pairings have not been revealed. It could be a four team race with Proctor/Hermantown, Hibbing/Chisholm, Moose Lake Area and Princeton vying for the section title.
The last Class A section to be examined could also be interesting. The top ranked Warroad Warriors could be the number one seed and embark on their quest for their third state title in four years. But hoping to steal the Warriors thunder is the fourth ranked Thief River Falls Prowlers, winners of seven in a row. Factor in the Crookston Pirates and the East Grand Forks Green Wave and you have what looks to be a tough and exciting section.
Next up will be the eight Class AA sections.