On February 4th, the 64 teams participating in this year’s Fargo International Squirt tournament must submit their scores, their records, etc to the people who run the tournament in Fargo. At some point after that, the gurus from Fargo make out the brackets. Ultimately choosing 16 top seeds and then 17 through 64 after that. YHH does it’s homework on Squirt hockey. We know the top teams from all over North America and are now publishing who those teams should be when the brackets are announced. Note: being the 8 seed and the 16 and 17 seed is not where you want to be if you have plans of playing on Sunday. Every other seed in this list has a shot at the Final Four on Sunday. Editor Notes: the committee weighs teams from NW Minnesota and North Dakota a bit higher than they probably deserve. The tournament this year did not pull in the top teams statistically that they normally do from outside of our region. This year’s top seeds are all from Minnesota and North Dakota. Minnesota’s District 10 is not represented this year featuring four teams – Andover, Blaine, Champlin Park, and Princeton – that would have likely been top 16 seeds.
Here is how we think the seeds will look:
1. Rosemount – Go to any urban dictionary and look up “No Brainer”. They are undefeated and have beaten all top teams in Minnesota. Kyle “Moose” Heffron is a fan favorite for the Irish, but this is not a one man team. Watch out for #2 Luke Levandowski and #19 Keaton Kranz on the front lines.
2. Osseo Maple Grove – With only two losses and winners of 10 straight, OMG has plenty of weapons to win the whole tournament. Their weapons include strong defensemen and a top line of Brock Faber, Tyler Oakland and Griffin “Rocco” Marcaccini.
3. White Bear Lake – With arguably the best first line in the state and a great corps of defensemen, WBL is as talented as anyone. With the return of Sam Newpower, the Bears are as good as anyone.
4. Chaska/Chanhassen – Two words: Bobby Brink. This kid can play. But CC is not a one show. They have a strong defense and two very solid lines that score a lot of goals.
5. Stillwater – A great team with a lot of second year talent and high end goaltending. A fun team to watch.
6. Prior Lake – Runner up in the Bloomington Tournament, the Lakers feature a few rising stars Matt Beaty and Owen Neuharth. This team has improved every week…a real sleeper come Fargo.
7. Orono – The second best team in Disrict 3, the Spartans have only lost to three teams, all very good teams.
8. Moorhead – A mystery team with some impressive wins and equally puzzling losses. Boasting one of the best records in the state and arguably the best social media presence (#babyspuds, #jrspuds)…this team looks to build on a great tradition of winning hockey in Moorhead.
9. Warroad – historically a strong finisher at the International, the Warriors have one of the state’s best players Grant Slukynsky and an arsenal of other scoring threats. As a team, they have tallied more than 200 goals this year.
10. West Fargo, ND (Packers) – The Pack is back. With a 23-3 record, West Fargo has the best team in North Dakota.
11. Burnsville – a feisty team that has won a lot of games this year. With the right pairings, the Blaze may be playing a meaningful game on Saturday afternoon.
12. Eden Prairie – by their standards an up and down regular season for the Eagles so far. However if you look closely, the red and black have faired well in every tournament they’ve played in (second in Hopkins, final four in Eden Prairie and Bloomington).
13. Edina Green – this is a team that is gelling at just the right time. Tournament champs of Hopkins and Spring Lake Park the Hornets look to make Edina proud by completing an improbable three-peat in Fargo. Great goaltending and strong defense may be the formula for this team’s chances.
14. Minneapolis – Minneapolis hockey is back on the map…strong recruitment city-wide is starting to show it’s fruit with this year’s Storm. Joey Miller headlines a great team that could make some noise.
15. Grand Forks, ND (Gladiators) – with wins over Moorhead and an outstanding goaltender, look for the Glads to compete late into the tournament.
16. Bloomington Jefferson – another great team from prestigious west Bloomington. Watch out for Grayson Hight, Tristan Broz and Grant Ellings this trio could give number one seed Rosemount a game on Saturday morning.
Five other teams to keep an eye on: Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, St. Cloud, MN, Rochester, MN, Affton Americans (MO), and Regina Capitals (13-1-4 Record in Tier 1).
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