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2024 Girls' Class A State Preview

By YHH Staff, 02/19/24, 10:15AM CST


One player from each state-bound class A team tackles 15 questions in 60 seconds.

Her Ice: 2024 State Preview Pod

15 Questions/60 Seconds

Nora Carstensen
Avery Quinn
Anika Boll
Bella LaMere
Grace Bickett
Ana Jyrkas
Izy Fairchild
Katy Comstock

Game Previews

11:00 AM - Willmar vs. No. 2 Orono

Lauren Eilers, Willmar

Willmar (20-7) enters this quarterfinal as the champion of Section 2A, thumping River Lakes 5-1 in the section final in St. Peter and showing off an impressive amount of Class A depth in the process. The Cardinals currently have players with 21 or more points on the roster, led by junior Lauren Eilers (15-13-28) and senior Sophia Quinn (13-13-26). 

Senior Chloe Lownsbury (9-16-25), junior Avery Olson (12-12-24), and senior Makenna Larson (14-7-21) offer the Cardinals more scoring options than most Class A programs have access to. Junior goaltender Erin Eilers has played every minute for the Cardinals this season, resulting in a goals-against-average of 1.44, a .933 save percentage, and eight shutouts. 

The Cardinals deserve credit for beefing up their late-season schedule with contests against Alexandria and Mound Westonka/Southwest Christian. They also faced fellow Class A State Tournament teams Luverne and Fergus Falls during the regular season. 

Unfortunately, for all that depth and schedule-loading, the Cardinals will meet a heavyweight opponent in round one in the form of the Orono Spartans. The Spartans (20-6-1) are searching for another run to the state championship game, a feat they accomplished a year ago, and this time, there may not be an otherworldly forward line standing in their way. 

Junior forward and Minnesota State commit Zoe Lopez (23-20-43) is the rare player who can dominate a game, and the team’s leading scorer has plenty of help. Sophomore forward Maddy Kimbrel (25-15-40) is one of the fastest players in the state and is a menace on the penalty kill, plus senior defender Grace Bickett (8-32-40) offers production and poise from the blue line.

After those three, there are nine other skaters with 10 or more points this season on the Orono roster, including junior Ohio State commit Macy Rasmussen (8-25-33), who won a gold medal with Team USA at this year’s IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championships. 

Freshman goaltender Viv Anderson (14-5-1/1.56/.930/5) has been steady between the pipes for the Spartans. Five of the Spartans’ six losses this season have been by a single goal, and two of those losses came against Class AA State Tournament teams Northfield and Maple Grove. 

Zoe Lopez, Orono

1:00 PM - Fergus Falls vs. No. 3 Dodge County

Nora Carstensen, Dodge County

A young squad with seven players in grades eight and nine, Fergus Falls did the work behind the scenes over the summer to secure the most robust possible schedule for the Otters, which included Class A State Tournament teams Willmar, Warroad, and near-participants such as River Lakes, Marshall, and Crookston. Battling through the regular season can only help the Otters, who are currently in a four-team section where they are clearly the strongest program. 

Sophomore forward Hannah Johnson (14-14-28) paces the Otters in scoring so far, followed by freshman forward Averie Tonneson (12-9-21) and high-flying freshman forward Maddie Brimhall (7-13-20). Senior goaltender Ana Jyrkas has impressed after splitting time with Lexi Metcalf last season, posting a 1.67 GAA and a .916 save percentage to go along with eight shutouts.

Dodge County (21-4) couldn’t have wished for a more talented or deeper group to make the program’s first trek to St. Paul. The Wildcats are loaded and should make the team’s first state tournament appearance and advance to the semifinals. 

Junior forward Nora Carstensen leads a disciplined Wildcat attack with 31 goals and 53 points, centering a line that includes highly productive Maysie Koch (22-23-45) and Mollie Koch (16-21-37). In addition to those three, 10 more Wildcats have recorded 10 or more points this season, giving the team a myriad of options on the offensive side of the puck.

Junior goaltender Ida Huber has played all but one game this season, allowing only 32 goals in 1230:17 of play time. Huber has a GAA of 1.33 and a .908 save percentage. 

6:00 PM - Luverne vs. No. 1 Holy Angels

Ellie Van Batavia (right), Luverne

The Cardinals (17-10) make their way to St. Paul for the first time without Kamryn Van Batavia, who played her way into the state’s all-time leading scorers before graduating and moving on to Minnesota State this season. In her place, a gaggle of talented youngsters who won the 2022 12B state championship with their eyes on the ultimate high school prize. 

Van Batavia’s younger sister Ellie (28-16-44) leads the team in scoring, followed by the versatile Tenley Behr (20-12-32), who is listed as both a forward and a defender. Four players are hovering near the 30-point mark for the season, a good indication that the Cardinals have more than just one or two legitimate scoring threats. Sophomore goaltender Emma Saarloos is the only goaltender on the Luverne roster and has registered six shutouts this season. 

After an exhilarating 4-3 win over perennial power South St. Paul, Holy Angels (21-3-3) is off the state tournament after its third consecutive section final appearance. Senior forward Bella LaMere (22-11-33) and junior forward Masyn Mullen (14-19-33) lead the team in total points, while Taylor Lesnar (5-24-29) leads the Stars in assists. Goaltenders Eva Betley and Zoe Rimstad have rotated evenly throughout the season, combining for seven shutouts. 

Against one of the most demanding schedules in the state, the Stars took top-10 Class AA programs Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Hill-Murray to the brink, and the third loss on the Stars’ resume came against No. 2 seed Orono. The Stars have won 11 of their last 12 games coming into the state tournament. 

Taylor Lesnar, Holy Angels

8:00 PM - No. 5 Proctor/Hermantown vs. No. 4 Warroad

Katie Sandelin, Proctor/Hermantown

Proctor/Hermantown (18-8-1) enters the tournament as the best No. 5 seed since seeding began, and the Mirage will likely carry an Aerial Lift Bridge-sized chip on its collective shoulder. 

Battled-tested and brimming with state tournament experience, the Mirage is led in scoring by senior forwards Izy Fairchild (24-20-44) and Jane Eckstrom (11-20-31), both of whom have played key roles in this lineup for a combined seven seasons. Hailey Jussila (7-17-24), Hannah Graves (9-14-23), Anika Burke (8-13-21), and Mya Gunderson (10-10-20) round out the Mirage’s 20-point club. Junior goaltender Neelah McLeod has allowed just three goals in her last four games and has a season save percentage of .903 and four shutouts. 

Defending Class A state champion Warroad (19-8) scored three times in the third period to edge Crookston 3-2 in the Section 8A final, making yet another state tournament and doing it this season without the record-breaking forward trio of Talya Hendrickson, Rylee Bartz, and Kate Johnson. 

Jaylie French leads this year’s Warrior lineup with 20 goals and 44 points, followed by Kaiya Sandy (16-24-40), Taylor Reese (17-18-35), and Katy Comstock (6-25-31). Rookie goaltender Payton Rolli has established herself as a quality netminder in her sophomore season, posting a 1.57 GAA, a .921 save percentage, and four shutouts. 

Taylor Reese, Warroad

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