Optimism abounds in Class 1A, a field no longer featuring powerhouse Blake. The seven-time champion Bears opted up to play among the larger schools by enrollment in Class 2A, creating excitement for a fresh outcome.

“What I like about it is, it’s almost like it’s a wide-open field,” St. Paul United coach Nate Mauer said. “It’s all over the map.”

Teams from Minnesota’s different regions bring different strengths.

No. 1 seed Warroad boasts an explosive top line of Madison Oelkers (42 goals, 28 assists), Genevieve Hendrickson (14-53) and Abbey Hardwick (11-25) backed by Hannah Corneliusen (38-17) on the second line.

No. 2 seed Breck went 16-10-1 but no Class 1A team played a tougher schedule. Eight of the Mustangs’ losses came against top-10 teams in Class 2A.

Red Wing, the No. 3 seed, boasts Class 1A’s top player in forward Taylor Heise. The Ms. Hockey finalist tallied 13 hat tricks among her 67 goals and topped 200 goals for her stellar career.

No. 4 seed Alexandria received at least 10 points from eight of its skaters.

Mauer said his No. 5 seed St. Paul United team, tournament runner-up the past two seasons, brings “experience and a second line with a ton of speed.”

David La Vaque