Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake is the latest Class 1A state tournament participant to draw concern about its place among the small schools.
The Moose is one of several Class 2A-size cooperative programs that have successfully petitioned to play down in Class 1A. The three schools in the co-op have a combined enrollment of 1,909, well above the Class 1A cutoff (1,198).
Moose coach Eric Nelson, whose team plays No. 1 seed Hermantown in the championship game Saturday, said numbers don't tell the whole story.
"Monticello by itself is safe as a 1A school," Nelson said. "When you throw the co-ops in there, it can throw things a little bit askew."
Annandale and Maple Lake each provide just one player to the state tournament roster. Each school, Nelson said, averages five kids per class who play hockey. With that in mind, Nelson said, Monticello activities director Gary Revenig "submitted the paperwork to continue at 1A" for the next two-year classification placement cycle.
Monticello was a Class 1A program before it was bumped up to Class 2A in 2002. In the ensuing 14-year stretch of big-school hockey, it never advanced past the Section 8 quarterfinals. The Moose lost those quarterfinal games by a combined score of 140-7.
"Every situation is different, but teams should play where they are the most competitive," said Andover coach Mark Manney, who serves as president of the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association. This week Manney also wrote to the Minnesota State High School League in support of St. Francis' request to move down in class. "Monticello was not competitive when they played [Class 2A] Section 8."
What's in a name?
St. Cloud Cathedral freshman forward Mack Motzko and Hermantown senior Ryan Sandelin are the sons of men's college hockey coaches (St. Cloud State's Bob Motzko and Minnesota Duluth's Scott Sandelin).
Lakeville South junior Zachary Zemlak has a name that also might be recognizable. Zemlak's father, Richard, played 58 games for the Minnesota North Stars from 1987-1989. Zemlak, a forward who also played for the Quebec Nordiques, Pittsburgh Penguins and Calgary Flames, scored three goals, added eight assists and amassed 587 penalty minutes in 132 NHL games.
Daytime crowd sets record
An announced crowd of 12,223 watched the Class 1A semifinals, the largest for a Friday afternoon session dating to 1995, the first year attendance figures are available in the two-class system.