My ultra-savvy hockey buddy Pete Waggoner, founder and Director of Hockey Media Services at MNHockey.TV, on the 2023-24 Minnesota high school boys hockey season – "Every year we say it's an exciting year, and who knows what will happen? But this season, we may have the very best team ever assembled in Minnesota in (defending Class AA state champion) Minnetonka, which features nine Division I players. Previously Edina had 11 and 10 D1 commits on separate teams in the 1980's.
Chanhassen matches up well against Minnetonka, with both teams squaring off in Section 2AA. Rogers, Wayzata and Edina – which features probable Mr. Hockey pick Jackson Nevers (forward, 20 goals and 40 points a year ago) – also have strong returning teams.
Grand Rapids and Moorhead will be very good, as should be Duluth East, Academy of Holy Angels and Hill-Murray. Roseau, featuring likely Mr. Hockey finalist Noah Urness, is another strong Class 2A team to watch, and Maple Grove has been to state many years in a row.
In Class A, Warroad and Hermantown will again be contenders, tough teams to beat. East Grand Forks' back-to-back state champion bantam players are now juniors and sophomores. Then there's traditional powerhouses such as Mahtomedi, St. Cloud Cathedral, Orono, Delano and Providence Academy."
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Hermantown coach Patrick Andrews on his team's recent work in continued preparation for regular season play – "We had a great first weekend. We had three good scrimmages that showed us a lot, and we got a good look at all the guys so we're able to start scheming where to put guys and how best to approach the first month of the season. We have two more scrimmages this weekend, against Eden Prairie and BSM, and these scrimmages will allow us to work on special teams and start establishing some systems.
All the scrimmages, over the first two weekends, and the first three weeks of practice really help us prepare for our first game. Once we start the season our schedule doesn't let up and we will be pushed hard throughout. We see a lot of value in choosing to scrimmage a second weekend instead of starting games. I feel like many teams are in such a hurry to start games, but I believe scrimmaging gives you all the learning opportunities of games without the consequences.
Plus with the MSHSL only allowing 25 games, these scrimmages allow our players more game situations and put our guys in very competitive situations which lead to many more learning opportunities before we actually put on the jerseys and start for real." Note: The Hawks are led by senior goaltender Dane Callaway, junior defenseman Henry Peterson and 2023 Minnesota Bantam AA Player of the Year first-year sophomore defenseman AJ Francisco.
Hibbing at Grand Rapids, 7 p.m.
Hopkins at Roseville, 7 p.m.