1. Edina, Blake favored
Led by eight players committed to playing Division I hockey, Edina rolled to a 25-1-1 record and the No. 1 seed in Class 2A. “We’re definitely excited to get that No. 1 seed, but it’s going to be hard because everyone is going to play extra hard to beat us,” said junior Emily Oden, who made a verbal commitment to the Gophers. Edina, fourth at state last season, is playing its first season under coach Sami Reber, a 2011 Edina graduate who played at Harvard. The Hornets’ lone loss this season came against Blake (24-2-1), the No. 1 seed and defending champion in Class 1A. The Bears graduated some key seniors but didn’t lose a step. “We knew that it’s a new season and we had to work hard and move forward,” sophomore Madeline Wethington said.
2. Gold on them thar rosters
Six players who helped the United States to a gold medal at past Under-18 women’s world championships highlight the tournament field. Oden, Wethington, Edina senior Grace Bowlby and Eastview senior Natalie Snodgrass each struck gold twice during their varsity careers. And Blaine senior Emily Brown and Eden Prairie junior Crystalyn Hengler won gold in 2016.
3. Championship session returns
Fans will once again be able to buy a ticket good for Saturday’s two title games, Class 1A at 4 p.m. and Class 2A at 7 p.m. The format drew an announced attendance of 4,530 last season, a 22 percent increase from 2015 when the Class 1A game was played earlier in the day.
4. Seeds killing suspense?
Few underdogs have advanced from the state tournament quarterfinals since seeding of the top four teams began in 2009 and expanded to five teams in 2013. In Class 1A, the high seeds are 28-4. In Class 2A, the record is 30-2 — including a 20-0 mark over the past five seasons.
5. Statistically speaking
Three of the top six scorers in both classes are on display. In Class 1A, check out Mound Westonka’s Liz Schepers (47 goals, 22 assists), Warroad’s Madison Oelkers (29-40) and Mariah Gardner (34-31). Class 2A offers Blaine’s Gabby Rosenthal (24-31), Naomi Rogge of defending champion Eden Prairie (32-22) and Hill-Murray’s Abigail Boreen (28-26). Eden Prairie goaltender Alexa Dobchuk placed third in Class 2A with eight shutouts while Warroad’s Emma Brunelle blanked opponents seven times, tying her for third in Class 1A.
DAVID LA VAQUE