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Boys Hockey: East Grand Forks, Edina defend titles

Hermantown was chosen the No. 1 seed in Class 1A and Lakeville North was chosen No. 1 in Class 2A for the Minnesota State High School League Boys Hockey Tournament.

Hermantown was chosen the No. 1 seed in Class 1A and Lakeville North was chosen No. 1 in Class 2A for the Minnesota State High School League Boys Hockey Tournament.

Both defending champions also return to this year's qualifying fields. The Green Wave of East Grand Forks are looking for their second title in 1A, while the Edina Hornets are seeking their 10th championship in 2A. East Grand Forks is the No. 3 seed in the 1A field and Edina is the No. 2 seed in the 2A tournament.

Class 1A teams will play their quarterfinal games on Wednesday, March 4, and 2A teams will follow suit on Thursday, March 5. Both classes will continue with championship semifinals on Friday, March 6, and then third-place and championship games on Saturday, March 7. Consolation semifinals for 1A are scheduled Thursday, March 5, with 2A following suit on Friday, March 6, and both consolation championship games on Saturday, March 7.

Championship-round and third-place games in both classes will be played at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Consolation rounds for both classes will be played at Mariucci Arena at the University of Minnesota.

Class 1A preview

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New Ulm (18-8-2) vs. (No. 2 seed) Mahtomedi (24-2-2):

New Ulm is making its debut appearance under this formation. New Ulm and New Ulm Cathedral made one additional appearance in 1992, and the co-op of New Ulm, New Ulm Cathedral, and Minnesota Valley Lutheran made three consecutive appearances between 2010 and 2012. The Eagles were not ranked in the final Let's Play Hockey poll and are still looking for their elusive first title. New Ulm did not face any other Class A qualifiers during the regular season.

The Zephyrs of Mahtomedi return for their eighth appearance but first since 2010. The Zephyrs were ranked No. 2 in this year's final Let's Play Hockey poll and are looking for their first championship. In regular-season play, Mahtomedi defeated Breck School 3-1.

New Prague (20-8-0) vs. East Grand Forks (23-4-0):

The Trojans of New Prague are making their second consecutive and overall appearance. They were ranked No. 17 in the final Let's Play Hockey poll and are looking to improve on last year's third-place showing. During the regular season the Trojans fell to Hermantown 6-1. The defending champions from East Grand Forks were ranked No. 3 in this year's final Let's Play Hockey poll. This is the third consecutive and 10th overall appearance for the Green Wave. Last year's title was the first for East Grand Forks. The Green Wave faced two other Class A qualifiers during regular-season play; they defeated Breck School 4-1 and lost to Hermantown 3-0.

Spring Lake Park (16-11-1) vs. (No. 1 seed) Section 7 Hermantown (25-2-1):

The Panthers of Spring Lake Park are making their debut tournament appearance. They were not ranked in the final Let's Play Hockey poll and did not face any other tournament qualifiers during the regular season. The Hawks of Hermantown are making their sixth consecutive and 12th overall appearance. They finished as runners-up the past five years. Hermantown won one previous title in 2007. The Hawks were ranked No. 1 in this year's final Let's Play Hockey poll. Hermantown defeated East Grand Forks 3-0 during regular-season play.

(No. 5 seed) St. Cloud Apollo (22-4-2) vs. (No. 4 seed) Breck:

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The Eagles of St. Cloud Apollo were ranked No. 7 in this year's final Let's Play Hockey poll. This is the third appearance for the Eagles whose last was in 2013. St. Cloud Apollo, which has never won a state championship, did not play any other qualifiers during the regular season. Breck School returns to tournament action after a one-year absence to make its 11th appearance. The Mustangs were ranked No. 4 in the final Let's Play Hockey poll and are looking for their fifth title. They won previously in 2000, 2004, 2009, and 2010. Breck School defeated two qualifiers during the regular season: East Grand Forks 4-1 and Mahtomedi 3-1.

Class 2A Preview

Bemidji (23-3-2) vs. (No. 2 seed) Edina (24-1-2):

The Lumberjacks of Bemidji, who were ranked No. 10 in the final Let's Play Hockey poll, are making their seventh appearance but first since 1986. Bemidji did not face any other qualifiers this year and is still looking for its first state title. The two-time defending champions from Edina are returning for their ninth consecutive and 26th overall appearance. They were ranked No. 2 in the final Let's Play Hockey poll and are in the hunt for their 10th title. In addition to the past two years, they also won in 1969, 1971, 1982, 1984, 1988, and 1997. Edina East also won titles in 1974, 1978 and 1979. During the regular season the Hornets defeated Eden Prairie three times, 4-3 in overtime, 5-0, and 3-0. They also defeated Hill-Murray twice, 3-1 and 6-3, and Duluth East 7-1. The only qualifying team the Hornets fell to was Lakeville North, 3-1.

Duluth East (14-10-4) vs. (No. 3 seed) St. Thomas Academy (24-4-0):

These teams met in late December with St. Thomas Academy winning 4-1. The Greyhounds of Duluth East, who placed sixth last year, are making their seventh consecutive and 22nd overall appearance. They were ranked No. 18 in this year's final Let's Play Hockey poll and seek a fourth title, having previously won in 1960, 1995 and 1998. In addition to St. Thomas Academy, Duluth East fell to four additional tournament qualifiers this year: Edina 7-1; Eden Prairie 4-2; Lakeville North 2-1; and Blaine 7-6 in overtime. The Cadets of St. Thomas Academy were ranked fourth in the final Let's Play Hockey poll. They are making their ninth appearance and return to tournament play after a one-year absence. St. Thomas Academy is looking for its sixth title, having won previously in 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012, and 2013. In addition to facing Duluth East, the Cadets also split a series with Hill-Murray this year. They lost 3-2 in overtime in January and won 4-2 in early February.

Hill-Murray (21-7-0) vs. (No. 1 seed) Lakeville North (28-0-0):

This is a rematch of a game that Lakeville North won 4-3. The Pioneers of Hill-Murray, who were ranked No. 3 in the final Let's Play Hockey poll, return to the tournament a one-year absence. This is their 27th appearance and they are looking for their third championship. They won previously in 1983, 1991, and 2008. In addition to Lakeville North, Hill-Murray also fell to Blaine 4-3, Eden Prairie 3-2 in overtime, and Edina twice, 3-1 and 6-3. The Pioneers also split a series with St. Thomas Academy, winning 3-2 in overtime and then falling 4-2. The Panthers of Lakeville North, ranked No. 1 in the final Let's Play Hockey poll, seek their first title in their second consecutive and sixth overall appearance. They claimed runner-up honors in 2014. The Panthers went 3-0 against tournament qualifiers during the regular season; they defeated Edina 3-1, Hill-Murray 4-3, and Duluth East 2-1.

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(No. 5 seed) Eden Prairie (18-9-0) vs. (No. 4 seed) Blaine (22-5-1):

These teams met in late December with Blaine winning 8-3. The Eagles of Eden Prairie are making their second consecutive and seventh overall tournament appearance. They placed fourth last year and won previous titles in 2009 and 2011. Eden Prairie was ranked fifth in the final Let's Play Hockey poll. In addition to Blaine, Eden Prairie lost three times to Edina during the regular season: 4-3 in overtime, 5-0, and 3-0. The Eagles also defeated both Hill-Murray, 3-2 in overtime, and Duluth East 4-2. The Bengals of Blaine return for their 11th appearance but their first since 2011. They were ranked No. 7 in the final Let's Play Hockey poll and are in the hunt for their second title. They won their first in 2000. Blaine defeated three fellow tournament qualifiers this season: Hill-Murray 4-3, Eden Prairie 8-3, and Duluth East 7-6 in overtime.

- mshsl.org

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