Though the eight Minnesotans selected to the U.S. Women's Under-18 team for the IIHF World Championship tournament in Finland will miss out, three holiday tournaments feature a strong mix of competitive teams and star power.
At Edina's ABRA Invitational, beginning Dec. 26, the third-ranked Hornets are favored, but No. 11 Lakeville South and No. 13 Hopkins will contend. The tournament continues through Dec. 28.
The Eden Prairie Mid-Winter Meltdown runs Dec. 27-29 and features arguably the state's two best teams in No. 1 Minnetonka and No. 2 Benilde-St. Margaret's. Both will have top players overseas, but the Skippers still boast four Division I commitments in Laura Bowman, Amy Petersen (both Penn State), Sydney Rossman (Quinnipiac) and Hannah Behounek (RPI). The Red Knights counter with standouts Liv Halvorson and Caitlin Reilly. Other teams competing include Anoka, led by Blair Parent and Maine recruit Emilie Brigham.
South St. Paul's 18th Annual Doug Woog/Kaposia Classic Invitational begins Dec. 29 and concludes on New Year's Day. Class 2A is represented by No. 6 Hill-Murray, No. 7 Roseville, No. 9 Lakeville North and Bloomington Jefferson. Top 1A teams include No. 1 Warroad, No. 3 Blake and No. 10 South St. Paul.
Division I signees to watch are future Gophers Kelsey Cline of Bloomington Jefferson and Kate Flug of Roseville. North Dakota recruits Kayla Gardner and Lisa Marvin lead Warroad. Other standouts include Lakeville North's Dani Sadek.
The players bound for Finland are forwards Dani Cameranesi (Blake), Amy Menke (Shakopee), Kelly Pannek (Benilde-St. Margaret's), Maliya Rodgers (Hopkins), Kate Schipper (Breck) and Megan Wolfe (Eagan). They are joined by Minnetonka defensemen Sydney Baldwin and Sidney Morin. Blaine coach Steve Guider is an assistant coach. The tournament will be held Dec. 29-Jan. 5.
DAVID LA VAQUE