Metro-area hockey sections will get a major makeover for the 2015 state tournament after the Minnesota State High School League announced a significant realignment.
The biggest changes, by a landslide, came in Class 2A, where Sections 2 and 6 have drastically different looks.
In Section 2, long the stronghold of Edina, the nine-time defending section champion Hornets are out. They have been moved to Section 6, the state’s longtime meat grinder of a section for big-schools.
Basically, some traditionally powerful teams from one section were traded for powerhouses from another section.
In Section 2, the departure of Edina and Holy Angels to Section 6 and Burnsville and Bloomington Jefferson to Section 3 cleared the way for the arrival of Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Holy Family Catholic from Section 6.
“We try to compete as best as we possibly can no matter who is in our section,” said Edina coach Curt Giles, adding he had no objections to the new assignments. “I think with Wayzata and Hopkins in our same conference (Lake), those are two natural rivals.”
Giles and Benilde-St. Margaret’s coach Ken Pauly did find it strange that St. Paul-based Cretin-Derham Hall landed in Section 6 with all west-metro programs.
“What I am kind of puzzled by is Cretin coming over,” Giles said. “I don’t know exactly how this process works, but I wondered how that happened.”
Edina and Benilde-St. Margaret’s haven’t played each other in the regular season during last several years, but that might change now the teams are in the same section. Benilde-St. Margaret’s coach Ken Pauly said the new Section 6 looks a lot like the old Section 6.
“I would say different teams, same section,” Pauly said. “All we did was we traded two powerhouses for two other powerhouses. I’m excited by it. I think, the opportunity to take on the best teams, you have to embrace that and get pumped about it.
“In Section 6, if you are going to cry about how tough the section is, you are going to be crying about it the rest of your career. Would I prefer an easier road? I think most people would. But part of this deal is trying to play the best teams. If we didn’t want to play the best then we would just move down a class.”
Based on past realignments, don't be surprised if several of the traditional Class 1A teams that appear in Class 2A sections are eventually shifted back down to Class 1A.
It seems unlikely that Minnehaha Academy will stay with the big schools in Section 6. Same goes for St. Louis Park.
The mega co-op that is a mash up of Le Sueur-Henderson, St. Peter, Cleveland and Tri-City United will likely move out of Section 2 to a Class 1A section. Same goes for Chaska, Marshall and Mound-Westonka.
It's not uncommon for the MSHSL to move schools with Class 2A enrollments down to Class 1A for competitive purposes. That's the case with Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake, which had lost its last four first-round games in Section 8 by a combined score of 27-2.
The Moose were shifted to Section 5 in Class 1A, and they will have a legitimate shot at reaching the state tournament next year.
"Our athletic director wrote a letter to the high school league that talked about the fact that we have never won a quarterfinal game in the history of our program," Moose coach Sheldon Weston said. "He also noted that from four years old to 14, we have only seven players from Maple Lake and 18 from Annandale in our youth program out of 165."