Tourney Team Preview: Gentry Academy
The Stars briefly jumped to the No. 1AA ranking in the Let’s Play Hockey poll in December after snapping Andover’s 33-game winning streak and have not dropped out of the top four this season.
No. 4 Gentry Academy
Coach: Billy Hengen
Players to Watch: #7 F Cara Sajevic, #33 F Grace Delmonico, #10 D JuliAnna Gazdik, #20 D Jenessa Gazdik, #35 G Zoe Laming
Last Appearance: 2022
0 State Championships
Gentry Academy, based in Vadnais Heights, is back at the state tournament for the third straight season and second in Class AA after making the jump up from Class A last season. The Stars beat No. 2AA Hill-Murray 4-1 in the Section 4AA championship game behind two goals and two assists from leading scorer Cara Sajevic.
Sajevic, a senior forward and St. Thomas commit, has 70 points (32 goals, 38 assists) in 21 games this year as the leader of a high-scoring group that features five players with more than 40 points. St. Cloud State commit Grace Delmonico, another senior forward, has 62 points in her own right.
Sisters Jenessa and JuliAnna Gazdik, both senior defenders committed to become Minnesota State Mavericks, have 46 and 50 points, respectively, on the blue line. Senior goalie Zoe Laming has a .909 save percentage this season and allowed only two goals in the section tournament
Some of the Stars’ numbers are gaudy. They’ve scored 186 goals to their opponents’ 46, nearly tripled opposing teams’ shots on goal and average more than seven goals per game. With that said, some of the counting stats are bolstered by a handful of blowout wins against lesser competition.
Gentry has shown that it can compete with the state’s best by beating No. 3AA Andover during the regular season and No. 2AA Hill-Murray in the Section 4AA final, but they haven’t faced any other top-five teams in Class AA.
Both of the Stars’ losses have come against highly-ranked Class A squads. A 10-7 defeat at No. 1A Warroad in early December and a 3-2 overtime loss in January at No. 3A Proctor/Hermantown are the only blemishes on an otherwise perfect record, but Gentry simply hasn’t played the quality of competition faced by other top teams in Class AA.
The Stars briefly jumped to the No. 1AA ranking in the Let’s Play Hockey poll in December after snapping Andover’s 33-game winning streak and have not dropped out of the top four this season. They belong among the state’s best and will have the chance to prove it playing on the same side of the bracket as top-seeded Minnetonka.
If Gentry Academy is to win its first championship, there’s a good chance that it will have to beat two top-five teams in the process – and that’s assuming they get past a tough Moorhead team in the quarterfinals.
Ranked Wins (Based on Feb. 7 Let’s Play Hockey Rankings): No. 13AA Blake (6-2, Nov. 12; 6-3, Jan. 28), No. 3AA Andover (4-3, Nov. 19), No. 20AA Roseau (6-2, Dec. 2), No. 11AA Centennial/Spring Lake Park (7-4, Dec. 28), No. 7AA Stillwater (5-3, Dec. 29; 5-1, Jan. 31), No. 8AA Holy Family (3-2, Jan. 7), No. 20A Moose Lake Area (6-0, Jan. 13), No. 11A Crookston (6-2, Jan. 20), No. 2AA Hill-Murray (4-1, Feb. 16)
Ranked Losses: No. 1A Warroad (10-7, Dec. 3), No. 3A Proctor/Hermantown (3-2, Jan. 17)
Ranked Ties: N/A