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Tourney Team Preview: Mankato East

Mankato East hasn’t had the toughest schedule, playing in Class A in southwestern Minnesota, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be a competitive team at state.

Makanto East skates around the ice.
Emmy Schulz of Mankato East skates backward on defense.
Sydney Wolf / The Rink Live

Section 1A

No. 13 Mankato East


Coach: Amber Prange

Players to Watch: G Anna Rader, F McKenzie Keller, F Jess Eykyn, F Kailey Newton, F Brielle Newton


4th state tournament appearance (Other Years: 2017, 2019, 2022)

Last Appearance: 2022

Although the Cougars may not be in the top-10 rankings for Class A, they are a team to watch out for after returning the entire team from last year’s state tournament appearance in 2022. The team had no graduating seniors in the offseason last year, so the entire squad from last year has had another whole year to adapt and improve their game.

Mankato East hasn’t had the toughest schedule, playing in Class A in southwestern Minnesota, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be a competitive team at state. The Cougars are 20-6 overall this season, with their losses coming to Northfield (Class AA), Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato (No. 18 at the time), Duluth Marshall (No. 20 at the time), Apple Valley (Class AA), and Owatonna (Class AA). So realistically, the team has only lost two single-A games this season. Of their six losses, the worst score was 3-0, so even in their losses they have shown that they won’t let games get to a blown out score. The Cougars have posted nice wins over other Class A teams headed to the state tournament, such as defeating both Luverne and Albert Lea in 2022-23.

To get back to the state tournament, the Cougars had a dominant section tournament performance. Mankato East was the No. 1-seed, earning a bye in the first round. They then posted a 4-0 victory over Waconia in the semifinals and a whopping 6-0 win over Hutchinson to earn the Section 2A title. The team is riding quite a bit of momentum heading into the state tournament, currently on a six-game winning streak where the Cougars have outscored their past six opponents by a 44-2 margin. Their last loss came on Jan. 24, 3-0 to top-10 Class AA Northfield.

A big reason for the success of Mankato East is netminder Anna Rader. Rader has a whopping ten shutouts this year, for a career total of 14. She also has a .945-save percentage and only a 1.20 goals-against-average. The most goals she has let up in a game has been three. The Senior Goalie of the Year semifinalist is committed to play at the Division III level this year for the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

A top player to watch out for includes leading scorer and senior McKenzie Keller. Keller has 57-points this year and a whopping 27-goals. Jess Eykyn is another player to watch out for. The junior is second in total points with 31 and has netted 19-goals this season. Brielle and Kailey Newton have both contributed quite a bit on offense this year as well (27 and 25 points, respectively). The Cougars have a good mix of older players this season and younger players that are hungry to prove themselves.

Ranked Wins: No. 19A Albert Lea (1-0, Dec. 1), No. 8A Luverne (4-3, Dec. 10), RV-A New Ulm (1-0, Dec. 17), No. 13A Delano/Rockford (3-2, Dec. 26), No. 9A Luverne (2-1, Dec. 28), No. 19 Hutchinson (6-2, Jan. 5),


Ranked Losses: No. 14AA Northfield (2-0, Nov. 22), No. 18A Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato (3-1, Dec. 6), No. 20A Duluth Marshall (3-2, Dec. 27), RV-AA Apple Valley (3-1, Jan. 13), RV-AA Owatonna (3-0, Jan. 17), No. 17AA Northfield (3-0, Jan. 24

Ranked Ties: N/A

Jason Feldman is the sports editor of the Post Bulletin. In addition to managing the four-person sports staff at the PB, Jason covers high school football, golf and high school and junior hockey. Readers can reach Jason at 507-281-7430 or jfeldman@postbulletin.com.
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