Lakeville North began this week unbeaten and untied. Edina’s lone loss came on the Panthers’ home ice. With four regular-season weeks remaining, a Class 2A state championship game rematch remains a strong possibility.
High expectations followed both program into the season. Edina is vying for its third consecutive big-school state title, a feat not seen since Bloomington Jefferson from 1992-94.
If Edina (14-1-2) is the favorite, then Lakeville North, led by six Division I recruits, is the worthy challenger. The Panthers (17-0) solidified their case by defeating Edina 3-1 on Dec. 4 and claiming No. 1 in the rankings.
Not that this season is all about two teams. No. 3 Hill-Murray and No. 4 St. Thomas Academy shook off early departures of standout players and remain among the elite programs. And No. 9 Bemidji (14-3-1) is on track for its most victories in a season in four years.
In Class 1A, No. 4 Mahtomedi, No. 6 Breck and No. 7 St. Paul Academy are holding their own behind the top three teams in the rankings: Northern powers Hermantown, Duluth Marshall and defending state champion East Grand Forks.
Metro player of the year candidates include Elk River/Zimmerman’s Jake Jaremko, Edina’s Dylan Malmquist and Lakeville North twin brothers Jack and Nick Poehling.
DAVID La VAQUE