The upcoming Section 7AA high school boys hockey will feature Minnesota Class 2A’s top-ranked team, Andover, and several darkhorses including defending champion Duluth East, Grand Rapids and Cloquet-Esko-Carlton.
Andover (19-3-1) defeated Duluth East 7-1 on Dec. 7 at Essentia Duluth Heritage Center, in the Huskies’ only game against a 7AA opponent in the regular season.
Andover is led by senior defenseman Wyatt Kaiser, a Bulldogs’ recruit. Eight Huskies have recorded more than 20 points, including scoring leader Hunter Jones with 38 points. Garrett Schifsky has a team-high 18 goals.
Duluth East will be an interesting team to watch in the playoffs. The defensive-minded Greyhounds average only 2.69 goals per game, while allowing 3.09. Six-foot-2 senior defenseman Ryan Cummings has been one of East’s top two-way players.
Up front, the Greyhounds are led by Charlie Erickson, Zarley Ziemski, Finn Hoops and Jack Fellman.
Konrad Kausch has established himself as one of the best goaltenders in 7AA.
Top-seeded Hermantown has a golden pathway to the Section 7A final, where the Hawks will likely face either Denfeld or defending champion Greenway.
The Hawks, led by likely Mr. Hockey winner Blake Biondi, will be a heavy favorite in the championship game. Hermantown defeated Denfeld 6-1 and Greenway 8-3 during the regular season.
Denfeld has a young, talented team, led by junior forward Kade Shea, and sophomore forwards Connor and Cooper McClure and Simon Davidson. Forward Griffin Lehet and defenseman Dylan Jouppi have had strong senior seasons. Jacob Snyder, a junior, and Shawn Easty, a senior, have alternated in goal.
Senior forward Ben Troumbly is Greenway’s scoring leader with 16 goals and 42 points. Senior defenseman Christian Miller is second in scoring with eight goals and 27 points. Troumbly and Miller are St. Cloud State commits.
Eveleth-Gilbert is a 7A darkhorse.
SECTION 7A PAIRINGS
Play-In Games (Saturday)
No. 9 North Shore at No. 8 Hibbing/Chisholm
No. 10 Ely at No. 7 Proctor, St. Luke’s Sports & Entertainment Center
North Shore-Hibbing/Chisholm winner at No. 1 Hermantown
No. 5 International Falls at No. 4 Eveleth-Gilbert
No. 6 Virginia at No. 3 Greenway
Ely-Proctor winner at No. 2 Denfeld, Essentia Duluth Heritage Center
Semifinals (Next Thursday)
6 p.m. and 8 p.m., Amsoil Arena
Final (Wednesday, Feb. 26)
7 p.m., Amsoil Arena