Minnesota girls Class AA section previews: Who can defeat Andover?
The Andover Huskies won the Class AA state title last year and finished the season with a perfect 30-0 record. Will anyone be able to unseat the team for the title in 2023?
Not only did Andover win the state title in 2021-22, it finished the season with a perfect 30-0 record. The Huskies are looking to defend their state title and have a good chance to do so after retaining a large portion of their team and their top players.
What teams are expected to do well this season and who can Minnesotans expect back at the Xcel Energy Center for the 2023 state tournament? The Rink Live previews every section and the top teams in the state ahead of the Nov. 10 start date for girls high school hockey.
Section 1AA has a couple of variables. The reigning section champion Northfield (19-7-3) had a strong season last year, but lose the Senior Goaltender of the Year in Maggie Malecha . The squad does retain Minnesota commit and leading scorer Ayla Puppe though. Northfield definitely can win their section again, but it won't be easy.
Owatonna (16-9-2) could be a wildcard team to watch, as it retains almost all of its top scorers, including Vermont commit Ezra Oien .
Lakeville South (24-3) and Lakeville North (12-14-1) will both be competitive teams this year and both will look to push to the top.
Lakeville South loses Division I talents Claire Enright and Taylor Otremba , which won't be easy to replace. Lakeville North had a losing record last year, but gain some talent in multiple transfers from Burnsville, which includes Sacred Heart commit Addie Bowlby .
Farmington (11-15) will likely be a middle of the pack team in the section, followed by Rochester Mayo (9-17) and Rochester Century (7-18-1) at the bottom.
Minnetonka (23-7) won the section last year and almost upset Andover in the state championship match. They lose a few good players, but have a huge pool of young talent coming up. They also have a large amount of Division I talent including skaters such as Grace Sadura and Ava Lindsay . The Skippers might be the team that has the best shot to unseat Andover.
Holy Family (22-5-1) had a great season last year, but lose Madison Kaiser among other point producers for the squad. They do still have standout goaltender Sedona Blair which will help to keep them at the top of the section.
There is a big chunk of teams that will fall in the middle of Section 2AA which includes Shakopee (11-16), Eden Prairie (10-17), Chaska/Chanhassen (11-15) and Bloomington Jefferson (12-14).
Shakopee lost its top scorer Olivia Grabianowski , but they defeated both Chaska/Chanhassen and Bloomington Jefferson last season which shows that they have a bit of an edge early on. Eden Prairie has a chance to be competitive. Chaska/Chanhassen and Bloomington Jefferson both lose some scoring, but should keep their goaltenders.
That leaves Prior Lake (6-18-1) and New Prague (10-13-3) at the bottom of 2AA.
Section 3AA is up for grabs this year. Burnsville (24-6-1) was the all-powerful team that won the section last season but they lose multiple players who graduated and another handful that transferred to Lakeville North. Burnsville will gain a handful of players though this season from DeLaSalle, St. Agnes, St. Paul Academy, Faribault, and Bethlehem Academy now that Minnehaha United is no longer a team.
Apple Valley (11-14-2) didn't have the best record last year, but it retains the Moran sisters, Marie and Makayla, who contributed a combined 100-plus points last season, and their goalie. This is a team to watch.
Rosemount (19-9) and Cretin-Derham Hall (17-7-2) both lost some and kept some, and will be in the running to be at the top of the section.
Eastview (11-13-1) loses its goalie and top scorer. Park of Cottage Grove keeps a majority of its players after a 8-17 season, so it'll look to be on the way up.
At the bottom of 3AA is Eagan (5-20-1) and Hastings (8-18). They're both down but not out.
Section 4AA will be a tough and competitive part of the state this year, but top team Gentry Academy is an early favorite to head back to the Xcel Energy Center in 2023 after winning the section tournament in 2022.
Gentry Academy (22-8) has a ton of Division I talent in players such as Cara Sajevic , Alexa Hanrahan , the Gazdik twins, and Riley Reeves , among others. Gentry could also be a frontrunner to unseat Andover from their throne.
Stillwater (13-11-1) and Hill-Murray (18-9-1) will battle it out this season to likely be the second and third seeds in the section. Both teams retain their top players and will play each other early on in the season.
East Ridge (14-9-1) and North/Tartan (15-11) are true middle of the pack teams.
Woodbury (14-11) lost to East Ridge and didn't have a player above 16 points scored, so it will need to find some point production. White Bear Lake (6-18-1) had a losing record but retain pretty much its entire roster. Similar to Woodbury, it just needs to find some scoring and offense.
Roseville and Mahtomedi will form a co-op this year. Mahtomedi only had three wins last year, so hopefully the co-op will help both teams to become a competitive squad again.
Section 5AA will be competitive this year. Maple Grove (21-8-2) won the section last year and will be the early favorite to do so again with Stella Retrum , Bella Shipley , and goaltender Dani Strom returning.
Rogers (20-5-2) had the least losses in the section last season. They lose some point producers, but still have plenty of key pieces to be a top team.
Centennial/Spring Lake Park (18-9-1) upset Rogers in the section tournament last year to prove its a tough squad to compete against.
Champlin Park/Coon Rapids (14-12) loses its top scorers and most of its goaltending.
Mounds View and Irondale/St. Anthony will combine this year, so the team will need to work hard early on to adapt to the change.
Osseo/Park Center (11-15) is at the bottom of the section as it loses its goaltender and looks for more scoring and point production.
The winner of Section 6AA is likely to be Edina again. Although the Hornets lose Ms. Hockey winner Vivian Jungels , they still have Uma Corniea in goal and have plenty of young players ready to step in to the roster.
Blake had a 15-11 record last year and retain top players Suzy Higuchi and Sam Broz . It also will add in players from Providence Academy and Minnehaha Academy this year as those schools won't have their own teams.
Wayzata (17-9-1) and Benilde-St. Margaret's (20-6-2) have both been strong teams in the past but they each lost a lot in the offseason.
Wayzata loses Sloane Matthews and goaltender Annika Lavender . BSM loses top defender Emma Peschel , goalie Allie Van Stelten , and many other Division I level seniors who graduated. The Red Knights will gain transfer Kaeli Koopman from Orono though.
Armstrong/Cooper (11-14-1) sits towards the bottom of the section, but will still likely have a decent record. Hopkins/St. Louis Park remains at the bottom (7-19).
It's a no-brainer that Andover is the favorite to win its section, and the state tournament, again this year after going 30-0 last season.
The rest of this section is up for grabs. Grand Rapids-Greenway (18-9) had the best record of the rest of the teams listed and keep a majority of their top skaters.
Elk River/Zimmerman (13-13-1) was a good team last year but they lose Maddy Christian , their goaltender, and Hailey Jussila transferred to Proctor/Hermantown. They have plenty of other talent, but will need young players to step up early on.
Towards the bottom of the section is Duluth (6-18), Anoka (6-19), and Northern Tier (6-20) followed by Princeton (2-24). Any of these teams have a possibility to advance up in the section and improve from last year.
Section 8AA doesn't necessarily have a clear cut front-runner.
Moorhead (20-9) had the best record from last season and returns pretty much all of its high-profile weapons, but Brainerd/Little Falls (17-13) pulled off the upset last year against the Spuds in the section final. The two teams split their regular season games against each other last year.
Roseau (14-10-2), St. Cloud (14-10-2) , and Alexandria (14-11-1), all had very similar records and had some nice wins but also some disappointing losses. They can all make a push to the top if they work on consistency and winning critical games.
Bemidji (4-20-2), Sartell-Sauk Rapids (6-18-2) , and Buffalo (5-19-2) all have some work to do if they want to be competitive in the section.