The 71st annual Minnesota High School Hockey State Tournament begins today, and 16 teams will be competing to win their respective classes’ state championship over the next four days.
Minnesota high school hockey teams are divided into two classes, Class A and Class AA, depending on their school’s enrollment. The two classes are divided into eight sections each, and the top eight teams from each section make their respective sectional playoffs. The team that wins their sectional playoff earns a berth in the coveted state tournament. The tournament takes place over four days in Minneapolis at the Xcel Energy Center, home of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. The four quarterfinal games for Class A take place on Wednesday, followed by the Class AA semifinals on Thursday. The semifinals for both classes take place on Friday, followed by the Third Place and Championship games on Saturday.
The teams and schedule for this year’s State Tournament can be found below.
— 2nd Life Sticks (@2ndLifeSticks) March 2, 2016
The Minnesota High School Hockey State Tournament is one of the most entertaining events in hockey every year as the best players and the best teams in what is considered by many to be the best high school hockey state in the country compete against each other for the state title. Many players that will compete in this week’s tournament are top college/junior hockey prospects and many NHL scouts will be in attendance. Some former Minnesota high school hockey players that are now playing in the NHL include T.J. Oshie (Warroad High School), Ryan McDonagh (Cretin-Durham Hall High School), Paul Martin (Elk River High School), Brock Nelson (Warroad High School), Anders Lee (Edina High School), Nick Bjugstad (Blaine High School), Nick Leddy (Eden Prairie High School), and Matt Niskanen (Virginia High School). Playing well in the Tournament could help a player win the prestigious Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award, awarded annually to the best senior high school hockey player in Minnesota.
As for this year’s Tournament, Hermantown is the favorite to win the title in Class A. They have lost in the Class A state championship the past six seasons and are determined to win finally break through and win their second state title in school history. The teams most likely to challenge Hermantown is Breck, led by Mr. Hockey finalist Chase Ellingson, and Three River Falls, who hold a juniors prospect in Ethan Johnson. The top team in Class AA is Eden Prairie, who won state titles in 2009 and 2011 led by current NHL players Nick Leddy and Kyle Rau. This year Eden Prairie is led by junior forward Casey Mittelstadt, who is committed to the University of Minnesota.
Tournament games can be watched online at https://prep45.grandstadium.tv/home.aspx (via prep45.com).