The Minnesota State Playoffs commence this week and it appears as though the competition between the top four seeds in Class 2A, Section 6 will be unlike any other in recent tournament history.
Top seed Eden Prairie is followed by Wayzata and Benilde-St. Margaret's. Rounding out this collection of top-10 teams is defending section champion Minnetonka. If both teams advance, the semifinal showdown of Eden Prairie and Minnetonka will be a rematch of last season's section final.
All four teams boast some of the state's top players. In Eden Prairie, it's Mr. Hockey candidate Kyle Rau
and defenseman Nick Seeler
. In Wayzata, it is Mr. Hockey candidate Tony Cameranesi
and Mario Lucia
, the top-rated scholastic player on the board heading into the 2011 Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn.
Lucia enters the tournament with 25 goals, 47 points and a plus-26 rating in 24 games.
Benilde-St. Margaret's will count on a deep group of forwards and Wisconsin-bound defenseman Patrick Daly
. Two-way forward Thomas Schutt will provide Minnetonka grit and experience.
"We know the ups and downs of these games," Minnetonka coach Brian Urick
told the Star-Tribune. "We were the No. 1 seed last year, but none of our games were easy. Coming in No. 4 is nice because I think the higher-seeded teams tend to grip their sticks a little tighter."
Here's the bracket for Class 2A, Section 6: Click here
Only two Class 2A sections have defending champions that earned No. 1 seeds: reigning state champion Edina (Section 2) and Hill-Murray (4). Both teams have injury concerns. Senior defenseman Max Everson
of Edina should return from a wrist injury, and Hill-Murray sophomore Zach LaValle (leg) hopes to return to the second line and top power-play unit. Everson, by the way, is rated No. 81 among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting's mid-term report.