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Boys Class AA section previews: Who will win the 2023 state title?

Find out The Rink Live's section-by-section comparison of who went to the state tournament in 2022 and who we think will head back to the tournament in 2023.

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Andover forward Gavyn Thoreson (12) celebrates with teammates after beating Hill-Murray Friday, March 11, 2022, in the State Boys Hockey Tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

Boys high school hockey is officially upon us. Games start this week and there are plenty of top-10 match-ups happening Thanksgiving weekend. Find out who The Rink Live has picked to win each section this year in 2022-23.

SECTION 1A:

Section Champion in 2022: Lakeville South (25-5)
Our pick for 2023: Lakeville South

The Cougars lose their best forward, Tanner Ludtke , as we have heard that will be staying in the USHL this season with Lincoln. That being said, Lakeville South has a deep roster with plenty of talent to try to fill the shoes of Ludtke. The team still has top-scorers Aidan Willis and Ashton Dahms , along with goaltender Jack Hochsprung, who had one of the best performances in the Upper Midwest Elite League this fall. There are plenty of other players who can step up and keep the Cougars in the No. 1 position.

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Lakeville South defenseman Tyler Lafferty (7) acknowledges the fans after scoring against Hill-Murray during the third period Thursday, March 10, 2022, in the State Boys Hockey Tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

A team to keep an eye on in Section 1AA is Rochester Mayo (17-6-3). The squad retains a ton of their roster, including their top three point-producers.

Lakeville North (21-7) had a solid season last year, but top scorer Kyle Doll is currently skating in the NAHL. Lakeville North's roster has not been posted yet, but Doll may choose to stay in Bismarck with the Bobcats. Hastings (21-5-1) also had a lot of wins in 2021-22, but lose their top two players to graduation.

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Other teams in the section include Farmington (8-16-1), Owatonna (10-15-1), Rochester Century (12-11-1), and Rochester John Marshall (8-17).

Who will make the Trek to the X for the 2023 Minnesota High School State Tournament? Find out The Rink Live's preseason picks for each section in Class A

Section 2A

Section champion in 2022: Prior Lake (19-12)
Our pick for 2023: Minnetonka

The Lakers were lead to the state tournament last year by none other than Alex Bump , who has graduated. Not only does the team lose Bump, they lose almost all of their point production. Trevor Boschee , Jackson Anderson , Riley Dueber , Sam Rice , Justin Kingery , and Will Schumacher have all graduated. Prior Lake has some rebuilding to do before heading back to the Xcel Energy Center.

Hockey Day EGF Prior Lake
Prior Lake forward Alex Bump (19) celebrates a goal against East Grand Forks during the first period Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, at Blakeslee Stadium in Mankato. Jason Wachter / The Rink Live
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

Our pick for Section 2AA is Minnetonka (16-10-1). The Skippers have a huge group of talent, and add in a few talented transfers. Minnetonka will be lead by John Stout on the blue line, and forwards Alex Lunski, Javon Moore , Hagen Burrows , along with transfers Max Krebsbach (Mound Westonka) and Sam Scheetz (Chaska).

There are plenty more teams in 2AA that will also be competing for the No. 1 title. This includes Chanhassen (19-6-1) who retain almost all of their key players, who are Gavin Uhlenkamp , Jack Christ , Tyler Smith , and Caden Lee . They also pick up goalie Kam Hendrickson from Holy Family as a transfer.

Eden Prairie (15-12) will have success with highly touted prospect Teddy Townsend on their squad. Holy Family will be a competitor with Parker Osborn , and Shakopee is a young but very talented team to keep an eye on.

Other teams in 2AA include Chaska (22-6) and Bloomington Jefferson (10-16), who both lose their top players.

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SECTION 3AA:

Section Champion in 2022: Cretin-Derham Hall (24-5)
Our pick for 2023: Cretin-Derham Hall

The Raiders lose a couple of key pieces to their roster, including Marko Belak in goal, but they still have plenty of depth to fill those holes. Northern Michigan commit Jake Fisher comes off leading the Upper Midwest Elite League in scoring, and could be a Mr. Hockey finalist in the spring. The purple and gold also have Division I talent in Attila Lippai in Colton Jamieson to round out the squad.

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Cretin-Derham Hall players gather around the goal before their game against Prior Lake Thursday, March 10, 2022, in the State Hockey Tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

Even though we think C-DH will be take the title, keep an eye on Eastview . The Lightning return almost all of their top players, including John Kisch and Zach Wooten , with Jay Svaren in goal.

Rosemount (12-14-1), St. Thomas Academy (13-13-1), and Park of Cottage Grove (13-11-1), are all set up to have solid seasons again.

Eagan (9-17) and a new co-op of Apple Valley/Burnsville round out the section.

SECTION 4AA:

Section Champion in 2022: Hill-Murray (25-5-1)
Our pick for 2023: Stillwater

This section is a bit of a toss-up. Hill-Murray won the title in 2022, but they lose Axel Begley and a pair of Mr. Hockey finalists in Leo Gruba and Dylan Godbout .

The Pioneers could still be a very good team in 2022-23, but we chose Stillwater (17-9-1) to win Section 4AA this season. The Ponies look like they are losing Cam Briere to the USHL, as he is not currently listed on the teams roster, but they retain Riley Skuza , Ty Tuccitto , and goaltender Tomas Anderson .

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Lakeville South vs Hill-Murry_0204.jpg
Hill-Murray defenseman Axel Begley (26) gets a hug from teammate Hill-Murray defenseman Leo Gruba (11) after scoring against Hill-Murray during the first period Thursday, March 10, 2022, in the State Boys Hockey Tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

White Bear Lake (16-11), lead by St. Cloud State commit Nolan Roed , could be a dangerous team, as could Gentry Academy. We shall see.

Other teams in Section 4AA are Woodbury (13-13), Tartan/North (15-10-1), Roseville (11-15-1), and East Ridge (8-17-1).

SECTION 5AA:

Section Champion in 2022: Maple Grove (23-7-1)
Our pick for 2023: Maple Grove

There are a couple of question marks surrounding the Crimson, but Maple Grove has plenty of talent to stay at the top of Section 5AA.

Stand-out forward Finn Brink should be back for the team this season, but we still have yet to hear if Landen Gunderson will return to high school or stay in the USHL. If Gunderson returns to Maple Grove, it sounds like he would not play immediately for the team due to injury. He is currently on injured reserve for the Madison Capitols.

Blake Steenerson had a great season in the UMHSEL, so watch for the big forward to be a big part of the Crimson offense, and for Luke Margenau to be solid on the blue line.

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Maple Grove forward Finn Brink (27) celebrates his goal against Andover with the bench during the first period Saturday, March 12, 2022, in the State Boys Hockey Tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

Maple Grove is the favorite to win the section, but Rogers (19-8-1) is going to give them a run for their money. The Royals return senior talents Chase Cheslock and Sam Ranallo and bring in ultra-talented young forwards Mason Jenson and Parker Deschene . They'll be a force to reckon with in 2022-23.

Don't forget about Champlin Park (15-11-1) and Centennial (18-6-3), as they are set to have solid seasons.

Other teams in 5AA are Totino-Grace (9-16-1), Mounds View (8-17-1), Spring Lake Park (12-14), Irondale-St. Anthony (7-18-2), and Osseo (4-20-2).

SECTION 6AA:

Section Champion in 2022: Edina (22-9)
Our pick for 2023: Edina

Section 6AA is a tough one. Edina may have the edge early on, due to retaining it's goalie Robbie Clarkowski , along with top defensemen Barrett Dexheimer and Eddie Revenig , and elite forwards Jackson Nevers and Matt VanderVort .

Benilde-St. Margaret's will be a good team this year. It loses some stars from 2021-22, but still have Drew Stewart , Michael Risteau , and goaltender Mason McElroy . The Red Knights also bring in transfer Wes Berg from Gentry Academy.

Wayzata (17-9-1) will be solid with top netminder Will Ingemann .

The Academy of Holy Angels (21-5-1) will also be a top contender in this section with standout Henry Lechner and plenty of incoming young talent.

Other teams in Section 6AA are Blake (17-10), St. Louis Park (11-14-1), Hopkins (6-19), and Armstrong/Cooper (7-16-3).

SECTION 7AA:

Section Champion in 2022: Andover (25-5-1)
Our pick for 2023: Andover

The Huskies are really the only option in 7AA. The reigning state champions return their three top players Gavyn Thoreson , Cayden Casey , and Cooper Conway , who are all Division I commits. It'll be very hard for anyone in this section to upset Andover for the section title.

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Grand Rapids (20-7-1) should have a good season. Blaine (14-9-4), Coon Rapids (10-16), and Forest Lake (13-13-1) all had 10 or more wins in 2021-22.

Duluth East (8-18-1), Cloquet-Esko Carlton (8-17-2), Anoke (9-17), Duluth Marshall (7-18-1), and Northern Edge (6-19-1) round out the section.

SECTION 8AA:

Section Champion in 2022: Moorhead (22-8-1)
Our pick for 2023: Moorhead

The Spuds lose a lot this year. We have learned that Harper Bentz (USHL - Fargo), Joe Gramer (USHL - Des Moines) or Joe Schiller (USHL - Cedar Rapids) will not be returning for their senior seasons. That being said, Moorhead still has some talent, especially in it's younger players. Section 8AA is not a strong section this year, so if the Spuds can string things together by playoffs, they will likely be headed back to the state tournament.

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Moorhead players watch as Andover celebrates their win during the second overtime Friday, March 11, 2022, in the State Boys Hockey Tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

Roseau (21-5-1) lost top defenseman Thor Byfuglien and Mr. Hockey Max Strand to graduation, so they'll have some big shoes to fill.

Elk River/Zimmerman (19-8-1) had a good record last year, so they could make a push in 8AA.

The rest of the teams in Section 8AA are Sartell-St. Stephen (15-11), Buffalo (10-16), St. Cloud (7-16-3), St. Michael-Albertville (10-17), Bemidji (8-16-2), and Brainerd (6-19-2).

Related Topics: BOYS HOCKEY
Sydney Wolf is a reporter for The Rink Live, primarily covering youth hockey. She joined the team in November of 2021 and graduated from St. Cloud State University with a B.S. in Mass Communications and a minor in Writing and Rhetoric Studies and was a part of the University Honors Program.
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