During the last weekend of December, some of Minnesota's best will take the ice in Prior Lake at the Dakotah! Ice Center for the inaugural Hockey For Life Classic, sponsored by Tradition Companies and presented by Youth Hockey Hub.
A total of eight teams will play 12 games from Dec. 28-30, with all games being live-streamed for free on youthhockeyhub.com.
Continue reading for a preview of the first four games of the Hockey For Life Classic.
Wisconsin commit Ben Almquist will be on fire for Holy Family this week in Prior Lake
Benilde St. Margaret’s (3-5-1) vs. Stillwater (5-0-0)
It’s been a long December for Benilde-St. Margaret’s, as the Red Knights, have yet to earn a win in three weeks since a 6-5 victory over Hermantown on Dec. 9. Since the win over the Hawks, the Red Knights have gone 0-2-1 in their last three games.
To reverse their fortunes, the Red Knights will need quality production from leading scorer and senior forward Joe Collins (7-3-10), along with fellow seniors Nate Clark (3-4-7) and Matt Kocourek (4-3-7).
Stillwater has yet to suffer a loss this season, and the goaltending of junior Jesse Brown and his statistics reflect that hot start. Brown has posted a goals-against average of 0.50 and a save percentage of .979 for the Ponies, in addition to earning a pair of shutouts.
Offensively, the Ponies can rely on freshman forward Noah Tussey (5-1-6), senior forward Josh Long (3-3-6), and junior forward Spencer Scott (2-4-6).
Elk River (6-3-0) vs. Holy Family Catholic (7-2-1)
A high-scoring theme has pushed Elk River to a 6-3 record, with the Elks averaging a gaudy 5.91 goals-per-game. Unfortunately, the scoreboard lights up both ways during the Elks’ games, with opponents averaging nearly four goals per game.
Powering the Elk River attack is junior forward and Notre Dame commit Jack Perbix (7-15-22), with senior forward Connor Bizal (10-9-19) and sophomore forward and Nebraska-Omaha commit Zach Michaelis (7-11-18) giving the Elks multiple offensive weapons.
Holy Family Catholic, ranked No. 7 in the latest Class 2A state coaches’ poll, has won four straight games since suffering a 4-1 loss to No. 3-2A St. Thomas Academy on Dec. 9, and the Fire has outscored opponents 33-6 in the process.
Senior forward and Wisconsin commit Ben Almquist (15-12-27) and sophomore forward and St. Cloud State commit Garrett Pinoniemi (4-18-22) pace the Fire on offense, while senior defenseman and St. Cloud State commit Brady Ziemer (4-8-12) holds down the back end.
|Date||Matchup||Tony Scott||Peter Odney|
|Dec. 28||Stillwater vs. Benilde-St. Margaret's||Stillwater||Stillwater|
|Dec. 28||Holy Family Catholic vs. Elk River||Holy Family||Elk River|
|Dec. 28||Chaska vs. Moorhead||Moorhead||Moorhead|
|Dec. 28||Lakeville North vs. Prior Lake||Lakeville North||Lakeville North|
|Dec. 29||Chaska vs. Lakeville North||Chaska||Lakeville North|
|Dec. 29||Holy Family Catholic vs. Benilde-St. Margaret's||Holy Family||Holy Family|
|Dec. 29||Prior Lake vs. Moorhead||Moorhead||Moorhead|
|Dec. 29||Stillwater vs. Elk River||Elk River||Elk River|
|Dec. 30||Holy Family Catholic vs. Moorhead||Holy Family||Moorhead|
|Dec. 30||Chaska vs. Prior Lake||Prior Lake||Chaska|
|Dec. 30||Benilde-St. Margaret's vs. Elk River||Benilde||Elk River|
|Dec. 30||Stillwater vs. Lakeville North||Lakeville North||Stillwater|
Moorhead (7-3-0) vs. Chaska (6-2-0)
After a 6-1 start, No. 8-2A Moorhead has dropped two of its past three games, falling to No. 2-2A Minnetonka and Cloquet-Esko-Carlton before halting the slide with an 8-0 win over Grand Rapids.
The Spuds have proven adept at scoring the second and third periods, but need more scoring punch in the first frame, having totaled only five goals in the initial period this season.
The senior trio of North Dakota commit Carter Randklev (12-9-21), Jack Stetz (6-12-18), and Cole O’Connell (5-9-14) forms the primary scoring threat for the Spuds.
With four Division I commits on its roster, Chaska can be a threat in any game. The Hawks are coming off a 5-2 loss to No. 2-2A Minnetonka, a loss that snapped a two-game winning streak.
Junior defenseman and Minnesota commit Mike Koster (4-17-21) provides an offensive spark from the defense, and fellow Minnesota commit and sophomore forward Rhett Pitlick (7-7-14) has four assists in the power play this season.
Prior Lake (2-6-0) vs. Lakeville North (3-4-1)
A pair of sub-.500 South Suburban Conference rivals go head-to-head in the last game of the evening, with the Lakers, winners of two of their last three, battling the Panthers.
Senior forward Preston Underhill (6-3-9) has been a catalyst all season for the Lakers, joined in the scoring by junior forward and Colorado College commit Jackson Jutting (3-3-6).
Prior Lake will need stronger play in the third period of this game if they intend to win, as the Lakers have allowed 16 of their 31 goals scored against them to come in the final period.
On the other side, Lakeville North has been at their best in the first period of games this season, outscoring opponents 13-4.
A fast start could be key for the Panthers, and would most likely come from leading scorer and junior forward Spencer Schneider (7-3-10). The Panthers are coming off a 6-5 loss to No. 4-2A Duluth East on Dec. 23.
Noah Tussey of Stillwater is capable of providing offensive firepower for the Ponies.
Carter Randklev, Mooorhead
The senior forward who recently switched his collegiate commitment from Arizona State to North Dakota is considered one of the most electrifying players in the state. Randklev leads the Spuds with 12 goals and 21 points.
Noah Tussey, Stillwater
Just a freshman, Tussey leads the Ponies in scoring five goals in five games, relying on a personal arsenal of speed and stickhandling that make him difficult to stop.
Jack Perbix, Elk River
The junior forward and Notre Dame commit is devastating offensive force with great hands, and effectively uses his 6-foot-1, 185-poind frame to shield the puck from defenders.
Mike Koster, Chaska
A diminutive defenseman with a pure playmaker's skill set, Koster is the ultimate ice general for the Hawks. The Minnesota commit has racked up 17 assists in eight games this season.
Garrett Daly, Lakeville North
A rock-solid defenseman who can move the puck on a breakout, Daly adds a smart and physical element to the Panthers' blue line corps. Daly has committed to Bowling Green.
Jack Perbix and the Elks head to Prior Lake hungry for three wins
A quick list of guys that will catch your eye as the game goes on.
Blake Brandt, Lakeville North
Explosive senior forward who has seven points in eight games - always makes the right play.
Kyler Kleven, Moorhead
Speedy forward that creates offense for his team with high hockey IQ and tenacious defensive play.
Nick Olmscheid, Chaska
Deceptively fast, very athletic forward that makes the most of his opportunities - has 11 points in his first eight games.
Spencer Scott, Stillwater
Junior power forward has six points in five games for the undefeated Ponies. No relation to Tony Scott.
John Simon, Holy Family
Hard-nosed forward that continues to get better, Simon has 11 points in his first 10 games.
Blake Brandt, Lakeville North