Ice in our Veins: The 2024 AA Minnesota State Hockey Tournament Preview

Ice in our Veins: The 2024 AA Minnesota State Hockey Tournament Preview


As I write this letter, our long and treacherous journey is finally coming to an end. We’ve traveled endlessly over the past few months, surrounded by nothing but the frigid ice of this sovereign land. But alas, the hard work, determination, and countless battles have all been worth it. Yes, you can see it on the horizon now! Bleach blonde mullets whiter than the beaches of the Bahamas; drunken parents celebrating with more joy and passion than when we won the revolution; and most importantly of all, gold brighter than you could possibly imagine in the form of the state championship trophy. I have no idea why the excitement of the Minnesota State Hockey Tournament brought out my inner 1600s sailor. Most likely all that Storm and Skipper talk last week. Let’s get into it.

The AA Minnesota State Hockey Tournament Preview

The State Hockey Tournament Matchups:

4. White Bear Lake (20-7-1) vs 5. Grand Rapids (17-11)

In the last week of January, Grand Rapids had lost 5 of their last 8. They were sitting at 9-9 with a lot of question marks in the air. When you get yourself into this situation. Things typically go one of two ways. Either you crash and burn Ricky Bobby style or you go nuclear Oppenheimer style and win 8 of your last 10. Obviously the latter is what Grand Rapids chose to do. Not only did they go on a heater, but they beat 3 teams who finished top 15 in the state. Now, they’re the 5th seed at the Minnesota State Hockey Tournament with nothing to lose.

White Bear finds themselves as one of the streakiest teams in the state. They have win streaks of 4, 6, and 6 this season. Good thing it wasn’t 6, 6, and 6, or we might be having more of a conspiracy conversation. But those wins right there account for 16 of the 20 they piled on throughout the year. Also, winning 20 games in AA is no joke. Fortunately for them, the most recent 6 game winning streak started on February 13th, carried through their section, and has at least one more chance to stay alive. 

3. Centennial (19-7-2) vs Cretin-Derham Hall (17-10-1)

There’s only 5 teams in the state who gave up less than 2 goals per game this season. Three of them are still playing, and Cretin’s one of them. Even more impressively, they’ve only given up 2+ goals twice since the beginning of January. They’ve got the legion of boom in the defensive zone, and let me tell you, they’re going to need it because…

There’s only 5 teams in the state who averaged 4.9+ goals per game this year. One of them is still playing, and yep, it’s Centennial. Even more impressively, they’ve averaged 6.8 goals over their last 5 games, including a 12-0 domination in the first round of playoffs. They’ve got the greatest show on ice in the offensive zone, and let me tell you, they’re going to need it because…

This should be a crazy matchup between two exactly opposite teams even though their stories are eerily similar. 

2. Chanhassen (23-5) vs Rochester Century/John Marshall (22-4-2): 11:00am.

Non-arguably, this matchup is the result of the two most exciting entrances into this year’s state tourney. Rochester Century/John Marshall ended Lakeville South’s 5-year run as the Section 1AA champs. Not to mention, they might have the most electrifying fan base in the state because they literally shattered the glass cheering. However, they have their work cut out for them, because they’ve only won two games against teams with more than 14 wins this season. Without a doubt, Chanhassen will be the best team they’ve played thus far.

Then we got the Storm who proved it’s hard to beat a team 3 times in a row. After back-to-back OT losses in last year’s section finals and this year’s regular season to Minnetonka, Chanhassen finally seized their moment and knocked off the defending state champions to make their first ever Minnesota State Hockey Tournament appearance. Now, it’s time to prove they belong. Chan’s lost one game since December, and they don’t plan to lose again. This might just be one of the favorites to take home the whole thing. Hey, they already took home a football championship from US Bank this fall.

1. Edina (23-5) vs Elk River-Zimmerman (18-9-1): 6:00pm.

The morning of February 1st, Elk River Zimmerman was 10-9-1 coming off a loss. In fact, they had just lost 3 of their last 4, while getting outscored 11 to 6. Let’s be honest, things weren’t looking great. They could’ve folded right there, locked themselves in the darkness of a closet, and ate sunscreen for the rest of their lives. Instead, they decided to put their big-boy pants on and go play some puck. ER-Z went on to beat Andover 4-1 that night, and they haven’t lost since. This might be the hottest team in hockey, which is exactly what you don’t want in a 1st round random draw.

However, Edina’s kinda as real as it gets when it comes to a 1-seed. They’ve only lost 5 times all year, and 4 of them came against 20-win, top-5 teams in the state. Those teams were Minnetonka, Wayzata, and Benilde-St. Margaret’s. But don’t worry, Edina just knocked off the latter two in section revenge games on their way to the X. Therefore, the Hornets only have one thing left to prove…that their loss in last year’s championship won’t happen again.

Now onto what we all really care about at the Minnesota State Hockey Tournament

Everyone in Minnesota loves hockey. We all know that. It’s what makes this spectacle so great. We all also know that hockey’s not the only thing people come to watch at the Minnesota State Hockey Tournament. We can’t get enough of these guys channeling their inner Zoolander’s and coming up with the most ridiculous haircuts of all time. I’m sure it will only be a matter of time until the All-Hair team is recognized. Don’t miss a thing as everything starts this Thursday at the X.

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