Can last year's state champs from Lakeville North and East Grand Forks hold off their top challengers? Here's our look at the top teams and players to watch as a new boys' hockey season is about to begin.
Graduation and other departures gutted both defending state champions. Lakeville North (Class 2A) graduated four Division I skaters and lost goaltender Ryan Edquist (committed to the Gophers) to juniors. In Class 1A, two-time defending champion East Grand Forks lost Mr. Hockey candidate Dixon Bowen and coach Tyler Palmiscno.
Weep not for either program, however. Max Johnson (Bowling Green) and Ryan Poehling (St. Cloud State) return to lead the Panthers while Grant Loven and Tanner Tweten will keep the Green Wave rolling.
Sam Moberg of St. Paul Johnson is starting his fifth season as the team's goaltender.
What are some of the other themes for the coming season? There are new section assignments and a senior goalie who has bene in the nets for his school since eighth grade and hasn't missed a single start in that time.
Who are the Star Tribune's Top Ten teams heading into the season? The defending champions from Lakeville North are on the list but aren't in the No. 1 spot -- or even No. 2. Those spots go to a couple of traditional hockey powers.
Wayzata won its Turkey Trot Tournament last weekend and has a spot in the Metro Top Ten.
Who are they? Here's a hint: One of them is in Section 2 and one is in Section 6. And who's the only 1A team that will start the season among the metro area's elite?
If you could choose a starting six to represent the metro area, who would be on it? We pondered that question and put together a group that includes a couple of stars from Eden Prairie, three standouts from the St. Paul suburbs and a towering forward from Blaine who's headed to UMD.
Blaine's Riley Tufte is on our Dream Team
If you're looking for some players to watch during the coming season, we have a group of 20 that ranges from Elk River to Delano to New Prague, along with representatives from some of the usual hotspots throughout the Twin Cities.
Chase Ellingson of Breck (8) scored 25 goals last season and is one of our 20 players to watch in 2015-16.
Who are the others we chose for this elite group? You can find them here.