Partisan crowds. Packed arenas. Passionate hockey.
Boys’ hockey section playoff semifinals and championship games this week promise all that and more, beginning with rare Monday night clashes.
Saturday’s snowstorm bumped the Class 2A, Section 7 semifinals to Monday. No. 3 ranked Duluth East faces hilltop rival Duluth Marshall. Puck drops at 5 p.m. at Amsoil Arena, followed by No. 8 Andover and Elk River. The Northwest Suburban Conference rivals split two meetings this season.
A 3M Arena at Mariucci finals doubleheader featuring a top-10 quartet begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday. First is the third consecutive Section 6 playoff meeting between No. 2 Edina and No. 10 Wayzata. The Trojans are two-time defending section champions but enter as underdogs because Edina beat them twice earlier in February.
The nightcap brings No. 1 Minnetonka battling No. 7 Holy Family in Section 2. The favored Skippers last reached the state tournament in 2010. Holy Family seeks its first trip.
Also Wednesday, No. 9 Moorhead, state tournament runner-up for the eighth time last March, plays St. Michael-Albertville for the Class 2A, Section 8 crown at 7 p.m. at Bemidji’s Sanford Center.
Thursday brings a Section 5 rematch of Centennial and defending section champ Maple Grove at 7 p.m. at Aldrich Arena. At the same time, No. 4 St. Thomas Academy faces Eastview for the Section 3 title at Braemar Arena.
Section play concludes Friday with the Section 4 championship. No. 6 White Bear Lake is the favorite heading into the semifinals.
In Class 1A, No. 1 Hermantown squares off with No. 3 Greenway at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Amsoil Arena. The defending state champion Hawks won 4-2 at Greenway on Jan. 16.
In the metro, No. 2 Mahtomedi remains favored heading into Tuesday’s Section 4 semifinals. No. 5 Orono and No. 6 Mound Westonka are on a collision course for Thursday’s Section 2 title game.
State wrestling, boys’ swimming and diving
More than just section hockey is on tap for this week.
The wrestling and boys swimming and diving state meets are also set to take place.
For the first time since 1982, Apple Valley will be absent from the team wrestling tournament. The Eagles, winners of 26 state championships, including the past 12 3A titles (with a nod to St. Michael-Albertville, which was co-champion in 2013), were defeated by Shakopee in the Section 2, 3A finals on Feb. 16.
Some might believe that makes Shakopee the new favorite in 3A, but Anoka and St. Michael-Albertville both have enough juice in their lineups to harbor serious state championship hopes.
The team tournament will be held in its entirety Thursday, with the individual tournament taking place Friday and Saturday, all at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
The boys’ swimming and diving meet will be held Thursday through Saturday at the U of M’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center.