If you haven’t heard, the 2022-23 Warroad Warriors are an absolute wagon. With only a few games left before section playoffs start and the eventual state tournament at the X, I try to find a team that can beat the Warriors.
Lets Meet The Warroad WarriorsWhere do you possibly begin with a team this good? Let’s give all the credit to the players for their success on the ice but it starts with Coach Hardwick behind the bench. I know that in the metro area players move from association to association in hopes of more playing time and exposure. But in Warroad, as well as most schools north of Anoka County, the players start playing together as mites and continue on to varsity hockey. A big piece of the credit should go to all the coaches at every level who stress playing hockey the same way. After 8-10 years of playing together, the varsity stage is where all the hard work finally pays off. Check out this awesome video done about Warroad and its rich hockey history.
The Warroad Goalie
Hampton Slukynsky. A Northern Michigan commit, following his older brother Grant. He currently holds a perfect 23-0-0 record with a 1.39 GAA this season. The only thing more impressive is his career stat line of 52-5-2. On top of all the High School accolades, he also played for Team USA at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He is pretty much a lock to win the Frank Brimsek Award as the best goalie in the state. There is one thing that can suppress a surprise upset and that is a legit goalie.
Legit Offensive FirepowerJayson Shaugabay (University of Minnesota-Duluth commit). Carson Pilgrim. Murray Marvin-Cordes. Usually single A schools will come to the X with a lone superstar and a bunch of other guys in supporting roles. The Warriors bring that superstar in Shaugabay, but they also have legit secondary scoring in their lineup with Carson Pilgrim’s FORTY TWO goals (and counting) this season. If their top guy gets shut down (which is unlikely to happen in the Single A tournament) they have others who can step up.
In early January, Jayson Shaugabay broke Warroad’s all time point mark. He passed former Warrior legend and Stanley Cup Champion TJ Oshie’s mark of 241 points. While Ben Hanowski and his 405 career points may be too far away. A couple more big games could see him land in the Top 5 all time.
East Grand Forks
- February 6, 2023: Warroad 4, EGF 2
- February 7, 2023: Warroad 4, EGF 3
The ever so rare back to back, home and home regular season matchup went the way of Warroad. I see their next meeting being the Section 8 Title game. I would put money on it being a 1-goal game but Warroad will prevail.
Record: 16-8-0Previous Meetings:
- December 3, 2022: Warroad 7, Mahtomedi 4
I don’t put much on this loss because the travel to Warroad is brutal. It was an early season matchup that was the second of a back to back. Mahtomedi beat EGF the night before 6-3. I like Mathomedi because they play a decent schedule against AA schools throughout the season. They have a potent offense who has scored 37 goals in their last 5 games. That win streak included a big 6-1 win over a decent Delano squad. They have a relatively easy path to the X through Section 4.
- December 29, 2022: Warroad 5, Orono 2
Once again its tough to put too much on an early season, Christmas tournament matchup. However, the Warriors did beat Orono handily and would have the mental edge over that Spartans program. I admittedly know very little about this squad outside of their record. Their losses came against either the top teams from single A or programs playing at the AA level.
- January 14, 2023: Warroad 3, Hermantown 1
This will be the Class A final at the Xcel Energy Center. The Hawks, a single A powerhouse, have plenty of skill to beat the Warriors. After doing just that in last year’s championship game, there were a number of people re-igniting the argument that the Hawks should move to AA. The thing that sets Hermantown apart from all the other contenders is their depth. Six players in double digits for goals scored. Eight with double digit assists. Twelve with double digits points. That kind of depth is unheard of, especially at the single A level. They will be well tested due to the schedule they play. The Hawks have big wins against all the teams listed above them in this blog as well as numerous AA schools like Eden Prairie, Moorhead, Cretin, Hill Murray and Benilde-St. Margaret’s.
If you happen to be an avid state tournament viewer but don’t follow much during the regular season you may have some questions about this squad. Like, where are the Plante brothers? Zam, who would’ve been a senior on this squad was drafted by the Penguins in the 2022 draft and is now playing in the USHL. Little brother Max, accepted an offer to play for the US NTDP and currently has 17 points in 22 games. The departure of those two superstars has tested this team but seniors Kade Kohanski and Penn State commit Dallas Vieau have stepped up in a big way.
State Championship Prediction
I think this year’s version of the Class A tournament will be one of the most exciting in a long time. We’ve seen the best of the single A teams competing with (and beating) the best of the AA programs all year long. The thin line separating the talent between those two classifications is harder to see than ever with the play across the state. With all that considered, there is only one team who will come out on top and that is the Warroad Warriors.
29yo, 2 kids, former place kicker for the worst high school football team in Minnesota history. 2/2 xp, 0/2 field goals, led the state in total punts.