CENTENNIAL (No. 5, 19-6-3) VS. ST. THOMAS ACAD. (No. 4, 25-2-1), 8 p.m.
Scouting the Cougars: Coach Ritch Menne lauded his 13-member senior class as “winners from the time they were very, very young. They bought-in a long time ago and they’re battle-tested. It’s a tight group of kids.” Led by Mr. Hockey finalist Lucas McGregor, the Cougars return to state for the first time since 2014, fulfilling Menne’s wish for them to make their best memories this season. McGregor (28 goals), Hayden Brickner (22), Jack Menne (21) and Carter Wagner (18) led the offense. Centennial played a tough schedule, losing to Duluth East and Edina, tying Hill-Murray and losing in overtime to Moorhead.
Scouting the Cadets: Co-head coach Greg Vannelli says this team is built for a deeper state tournament run. The Cadets suffered quarterfinal upset losses twice to unseeded teams since opting up to Class 2A in 2014. “This year is, ‘Hey, let’s get after it,’ instead of, ‘Hey, let’s just get there,’ ” Vannelli said. Six forwards, three defensemen and Frank Brimsek Award finalist Atticus Kelly in goal drove the team all season. Ray Christy and Chase Foley are “resilient guys and that’s why our team never panics,” Vannelli said. The Cadets had an intense, competitive preseason scrimmage with Centennial. Vannelli is sure that will be replicated Thursday.
Worth knowing: Last week St. Thomas Academy played its 14th consecutive section championship game. Since the streak began in 2005, the Cadets are 10-4.
David La Vaque