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BHS: 2024 Class A State Tourney Preview

By Class A Hockey Guy, 03/02/24, 5:00PM CST


The state's most comprehensive Class A State Tournament preview, courtesy of the popular Class A Hockey Guy.

Section 1A Champion - Northfield

Kam Kaiser, Northfield

Head Coach: Mike Luckraft 10th year
Record: 22-4-1
Road to State: W 9-2 Faribault, W 8-1 Albert Lea, W 4-1 Dodge County 
State Tournament History: 3rd appearance- 2017, 2023, 2024

Meet The Raiders: Head Coach Mike Luckcraft brings Northfield back to the Class A State Tournament in back-to-back years and for the 3rd time ever, with all appearances happening under his watch in the last ten years. The Raiders have been the dominant team in Southern Minnesota all year as they won the Big Nine Conference and went unbeaten in Section 1A play as they were able to outscore teams 21-4 through their 1A sectional playoff run to return to St Paul, looking to do some damage.

They are led up front by their trio of Seniors #11 Jake Geiger (26-38-64 pts), #20 Cayden Monson (21-36-57 pts) & #12 Kam Kaiser (36-24-60 pts), who the coaching staff split up late in the year trying to create more offensive depth up front. Northfield does have plenty of other offensive weapons to team them up with as Senior #16 Andrew Winter (10-16-26 pts) and Juniors #13 Will Cashin (11-22-33 pts) & #21 Griffin Kennelly (11-6-17 pts) and Sophomores #9 Michael Steward (6-17-23 pts), #19 Christian Whiteman (9-5-14 pts) & #22 Oliver Benjamin (5-11-16 pts) have all been contributing to an offense that averages over 5 goals a game and comes into the Tourney looking deep and dangerous.

On the blueline, Seniors #7 Ty Frank (0-19-19 pts) & #24 Cooper Rand (1-8-9 pts) are a steady pair who provide experience and a calming influence when on the ice. They also have two elite young defenders in Sophomore #4, Bridger Riley (1-18-19 pts) & Freshman #2, Ben Geiger (2-21-23 pts), who have been magnificent when considering how young they are.

In nets, Goalie Junior #1 Max Frank (14-3-1) 1.58 GAA .921 SV% split the net most of the season, but down the stretch, he won the starting job and has been solid in their playoff run. All the pieces are in place for this team to make some noise at state, and they will be a dangerous, most likely unseeded Quarterfinal opponent for whoever they draw on Wednesday at the Xcel. 

Cayden Monson, Northfield

Section 2A Champion - Orono

Luca DeCubellis, Orono

Head Coach: Sean Fish 2nd Year 
Record: 20-8-0
Road to State: W 9-0 Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato, W 4-1 Providence Academy, W 4-1 Minneapolis
State Tournament History: 11th appearance- 1992, 1993, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2014, 2018 (State Title), 2023, 2024

Meet The Spartans: Head Coach Sean Fish, in just his 2nd year at the helm, brings Orono back to State for their 11th overall appearance. The Spartans have been a Top Class A team all year as they played a very challenging schedule and won 20 games again this year, and they have come into the Tourney battle-tested.

Orono will roll four lines at times, and they have a very deep senior class, but they are led on offense by their two youngsters, Sophomores #34 Jackson Knight (20-22-42 pts.) & #16 Rory Kvern (15-14-29 pts), who led the team in goals this winter. They also get solid contributions from their nice core of Seniors #15 Cayden Effertz (8-10-18 pts), #6 Easton Sankey (13-12-25 pts.), #22 Tommy Lewin (9-14-23 pts), #38 Brooks Fegers (1-9-10 pts.), #8 Hayden Simon (8-9-17 pts), #10 Ben Setnicker (4-7-11 pts) & #17 Sam Setnicker (1-6- 7pts) who all bring with them experience and many played in the Tourney last yearAdd in getting good years out of Juniors #9 Trey Landa (5-18-23 pts) & #7 Lachlan Hoffman (2-10-12 pts), and this is a deep forward group that plays a heavy game, and if they can play their style without going to the box they can wear on opponents as the game goes on.

The Spartans have an excellent defensive core as well, led by Seniors #5 John Engebretson (5-20-25 pts.) & #27 Joey Mugaas (10-24-34 pts.), who both are excellent defenders and can contribute offensively as a top defensive pair. Add in Tourney veterans Senior #39 Rylan Schultz (5-9-14 pts.) & Sophomore #3 Luca DeCubellis (3-8-11 pts.), who both also played at State last year, and Orono has a very good group of blueliners.

In goal, Senior #30 Peyton Anderson (15-7-0), 1.92 GAA .910 SV%, has been playing his best hockey late in the year and has been the key component to their (7-2-0) month of February with his solid play in net. This roster is deep and full of experience, and they come to the state tourney looking to do some serious damage and win their program’s second state title. 

Joey Mugaas, Orono

Section 3A Champion - New Ulm

Austin Uecker, New Ulm

Head Coach: Ryan Neuman 9th Year
Record: 23-5-0
Road to State: W 8-1 Windom, W 6-3 Mankato East, W 4-2 Marshall
State Tournament History: 7th appearance- 1992, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2024

Meet The Eagles: Head Coach Ryan Neuman brings his New Ulm Eagles back to the State for the first time since 2019 and the 7th time overall. This group of New Ulm Seniors had been on the doorstep of State the last two years only to fall in painful Section Final losses. However, they made sure that the third time was indeed the charm as they were able to take down a Cinderella Marshall team and head back to State.

The Eagles employ a mainly two-line attack led by Seniors #5 Austin Uecker (39-40-79 pts), #21 Kaden Larson (25-33-58 pts.), #22 Bryer Lang (21-34-51 pts) & #4 Brock Wellmann (10-10-20 pts) who along with Junior #2 Brecken Neuman (10-26-36 pts) & Sophomore #16 Brody Nordby (11-9-20 pts) get a ton of minutes and have carried the scoring load much of the season.

On the blueline, they were able to tighten up their backend by converting Junior #10 Ian Brudelie (17-16-33 pts) from a forward to a defender, and that key change has been a game-changer for them by shoring up the defensive core. They also get a ton of minutes out of Seniors #18 Landon Barstad (4-14-18 pts) & #12 Kayden Klein (2-8-10 pts), along with Junior #14 Brody Wenner (5-10-15 pts) as the main four guys who see ice defensively.

In the net, they have Senior #1 Bryer Hoffmann (21-5-0), 2.11 GAA .911 SV%, who has been excellent for them. he has three years of varsity experience and is usually at his best when facing a ton of shots, which will most likely be the case at State. New Ulm will have a very tough task on their hands as they will be unseeded and draw one of the top three seeds in the Quarterfinal Round, and they will need their Senior leaders to be at their best if they hope to stay competitive within that game. 

Bryer Hoffman, New Ulm

Section 4A Champion - Mahtomedi

Jimmy Egan, Mahtomedi

Head Coach: Jeff Poeschl 27th year
Record: 17-11-0
Road to State: W 10-0 Bloomington Kennedy, W 6-0 St. Paul Academy, W 3-2 OT Southwest Christian/Richfield 
State Tournament History: 15th appearance- 1992, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 (State Title), 2022, 2023 (State Title), 2024

Meet The Zephyrs: Head Coach Jeff Poeschl and the Defending Class A State Champion Zephyrs return to St. Paul for the seventh time in the last eight years and their 15th appearance overall. Mahtomedi has prepared itself for another deep tournament run by playing a schedule filled with tough AA teams that hopefully molded them into a real contender at the X, which has become commonplace in recent years.

The Zephyrs rolls three lines headlined by their top line of Seniors #8 Jake Hodd-Chlebeck (22-25-47 pts), #22 Gene Wegleitner (11-22-33 pts) & Sophomore #21 Jimmy Egan (9-36-45 pts). They have found two good depth lines in Senior #17 Patrick Egan (15-7-22 pts) and Juniors #14 Laken Decker (2-13-15 pts) & #25 Ryan Lipovitz (3-8 11 pts) along with the line of Senior #9 Max Strecker (2-6-8 pts), Junior #10 Winston Wright (10-8-18 pts) & Sophomore #16 Brayden Fuerst (6-6-12 pts) which has developed well over the season.

The defensive unit is led by smooth-skating Junior #6 Sam Harris (5-22-27 pts.), who plays mega minutes and is the blueline leader. Add in Seniors 6’8 #2 Wyatt Tarnowski (4-10-14 pts.), 6’3 #5 Cole Swanson (4-8-12 pts.), 6’0 #7 William Brummel (3-9-12 pts) and Sophomore 6’2 #23 Cody Loida (1-5-6 pts) and there is not a lot of time in space given by the big Mahtomedi defensive core which has become the backbone and blueprint of their success over the last decade.

 Senior #30 Charlie Brandt (10-6-0) 3.23 GAA .898 SV% & Junior #35 Wes Strub (7-5-0) 1.98 GAA .929 SV% have split the net down the middle most of the year and the rotation has continued into the playoffs so far.

This team is always well-coached and prepared to make a tourney run around this time of year, and the defending champs should not be overlooked as contenders to win the whole thing again this upcoming week.

Charlie Brandt, Mahtomedi

Section 5A Champion - St. Cloud Cathedral

Andrew Dwinnell, St. Cloud Cathedral

Meet The Crusaders: Head Coach Robbie Stocker has done a remarkable turnaround job after inheriting a complete mess, helping the Crusaders come full circle in only his third year. He brings St Cloud Cathedral back to State for the second consecutive year and the 12th time overall. 

The Crusaders have an experienced and potent lineup led by their big top line of Senior #26 Andrew Dwinnell (26-41-67 pts) and Juniors #6 John Hirschfeld (24-49-73 pts) & #24 Joey Gillespie (29-31-60 pts), who have been dynamic and explosive all year and been a matchup nightmare for everyone they face. They have also gotten notable secondary scoring as the year has gone along from their second line of Seniors #17 Landon Swenson (6-9-15 pts), #19 Cole Hawg (12-15-27 pts.) & #14 Philip O'Neal (4-7-11 pts) and from their third line #27 Ben Petroske (2-7-9 pt.) and Juniors #13 Jaeger Wood (10-7-17 pts) & #7 Caden Johnson (2-5-7 pts) all of whom have contributed during the playoff run.

Defensively, they are led by Sophomore #21 Griffin Sturm (9-16-25 pts.), who, along with Senior #3 Vince Gebhardt (2-13-15 pts.), provide a good mix of playing making and physicality. Add Seniors #10 Sam Hayward (2-8-10 pts) & #20 Thomas Rosenkrans (3-5-8 pts) and they have a solid defensive unit.

In the net, they have Senior #31 Nick Hansen (16-0-1), 1.44 GAA .935 SV%, who plays his best against elite teams, and they are unbeaten with him starting. The Crusaders have played a very tough Class A Schedule and come in with loads of experience, as everyone in this lineup played at State last year. They enter the Tourney after having won 15 of their last 16 games, and this team looks like a good pick to win their 2nd ever State Title this upcoming week after looking like a dead program just three years prior.

John Hirschfeld, St. Cloud Cathedral

Section 6A Champion - Alexandria

Brady Metcalf, Alexandria

Meet The Cardinals: Head Coach Josh Meyers engineered yet another excellent secnd half of the season push, which has been a trend of his teams in his four-year tenure since taking over his alma mater, as the Cardinals really found their footing late in the year and went an impressive (14-2-0) in their last 16 games to get the three-peat in Section 6A and make their eighth overall appearance at State.

Alexandria does have depth and state tourney experience at forward as Seniors #8 Gavin Olson (19-16-35 pts), #21 Evan Anderson (17-20-37 pts), #3 Leonard Kompelien (14-18-32 pts), #11 Kasen Muscha (8-15-23 pts) & #16 Caleb Lind (6-7-13 pts) who are sprinkled amongst their three lines have been at their best in the playoffsAdding to that veteran experience has been the growth and development of their younger players Sophomores #10 Brody Berg (10-9-19 pts) & #17 Evan Klimek (7-18-25 pts) and freshmen #25 Grady Olson (8-13-21 pts) & #22 William Thornburg (7-10-17 pts) who have really stepped in nicely to the varsity lineup this year to provide needed scoring depth as the year has progressed.

Defensively, Seniors #2 Jack Lamski (4-23-27 pts.), #4 Gage Castle (6-8-14 pts.) & #12 Bennett Hagen-Olsen (0-3-3 pts) all have good experience and the growth of Sophomores #15 Niklas Schultz (2-10-9 pts) & #29 Aidan Schneiderhan (0-5-5pts) and 9th grader #18 Grady Suchy (1-4-5 pts) has been key to give them good defensive depth.

In the net, Senior #1 Brady Metcalf (14-8-1), 2.04 GAA .921 SV%, has been very good and is playing his best hockey in the playoffs. Alexandria played a schedule filled with good Class A and AA teams throughout the year.

This large group of Seniors will be playing in their third straight Tourney, so they won't be intimidated by the big stage or lights. They will not be the normal cakewalk that the top three Class A seeds are used to seeing in the Quarterfinal round and will pose a challenge to whoever they draw. 

Leo Kompelien, Alexandria

Section 7A Champion - Hermantown

Will Esterbrooks, Hermantown

Meet The Hawks: Head Coach Pat Andrews and his Hermantown Hawks return to St. Paul for the 14th time in the last 15 years and their 20th appearance overall. This year's version of the Hawks had more struggles than normal, as the offensive woes and high number of losses were noticeable throughout the season. However, much was attributed to playing a heavy dose of the state's top AA Programs and having a very young group of forwards. However, they average over five goals per game against Class A competition.

The Hawks are led up front by their top line of Junior #23 River Freeman (19-22-41 pts), and Sophomores #4 AJ Francisco (8-16-24 pts) & #18 Ford Skytta (16-18-34 pts), who have come on strong late in the year. As always, the Hawks have good depth led by their line of all Seniors #19 Joshua Kauppinen (12-10-22 pts), #7 Evan Gunderson (4-11-15 pts) & #6 Andrew Johnson (7-10-17 pts), who provide the team with a steady shift every time out. The development of their third line of underclassman Junior #26 Charlie Marchand (7-7-14 pts) and Sophomores #16 Bode Madill (2-5-7 pts) & #29 Henry Martinsen (1-1-2 pts) has given them a nice three line attack to wear the opponents down.

The strength of this Hermantown team though is their backend as they have four fabulous defensemen in Senior #9 Will Esterbrooks (13-22-35 pts), #13 Weston Bohlman (4-14-18 pts), #8 Drew Nelson (4-11-15 pts) & Junior Henry Peterson (9-9-18 pts) who all have good speed and toughness which allows this team to get out of their end with the best of any in the State.

Add to them Goaltender Senior #32 Dane Callaway (18-8-2) 1.75 GAA .938 SV% is one of the most decorated and impressive netminders in all of Class A with a wealth of big game experience.

Don't let the more-than-usual losses on the record fool you, as this is a complete team that comes to St Paul as a leading contender to win another State Title #5 this coming week. 

Dane Callaway, Hermantown

Section 8A Champion - Warroad

Carson Pilgrim, Warroad

Meet The Warriors: Head Coach Jay Hardwick brings his Warriors back to State for the 3rd straight year and the 25th time in program history. This Warroad team is looking to win the school's fifth State title.

Warroad is led by their high-powered first line of Seniors #5 Carson Pilgrim (29-34-63 pts.) & #22 Murray Marvin-Cordes (24-27-51 pts.) and Junior #15 Taven James (20-37-57 pts.), which is one of Class A's best lines; the trio plays mega minutes and has accounted for a big chunk of Warroad's offense. They have Seniors #13 Damon Skappel (3-8-11 pts) & #33 Peyton Sunderland (1-6-7 pts) and Junior #23 Draydin Johnson (4-4-8 pts) for good defensive forward grit and have also gotten growing offensive contributions from Sophomores #2 Dominic Anthony (9-8-17 pts.) & #20 Ryan Shaugabay (5-9-14 pts) to add some depth scoring as the year has progressed.

The Warriors are led defensively by Seniors #25 Ryan Lund (18-22-40 pts.) & #27 Will Hardwick (0-10-10 pts) and Sophomore #21 Broden Hontvet (6-26-32 pts), who all have played big minutes and are very good in their own end and can jump up in a rush at any time to be dangerous.

In goal, Goaltender Senior Ben Norris (23-5-0), 2.16 GAA .895 SV%, has stepped into the prominent role of replacing one of the best goalies in program history and has done a very nice job and has been solid for the Warriors all winter. This team looks to finish the job and win the State Title after finishing painfully close in second place the last two seasons.

Add in the emotional weight of what transpired in the offseason, and this group is playing for a bigger purpose, and it would be fitting to see them win State Title #5 in honor of their former Coach Tveit, who passed this offseason and wore #5 in high school.

Taven James, Warroad

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