The regular season has come to a close and on Tuesday the Section 5A boys hockey tournament will begin. This year's tournament will feature more parity than any other year. Every game within the section has been a battle and there are definitely seven or eight teams that could make a long playoff run and end up skating at the Xcel Energy Center at the end.
Section 5A Boys Hockey Seedings
1. Monticello 10-6-1 (10-3-1)
Monticello earned the right for the number one seed by beating Northern Lakes 4-3 in the last game of the season and beating Chisago Lakes 5-3 at the beginning of the season. The Moose are trying to get back to the state tournament once again. They will not have an easy first round game as they await the winner of Mora and North Branch. The Vikings took Monticello to overtime but the Moose won 4-3 in OT in their lone matchup of the season.
2. Northern Lakes 15-3 (4-2)
Northern Lakes boasts an impressive 15-3 record including a span of 13 wins in a row. Their lack of games against section opponents is likely what keeps them out of the number 1 seed. The Lightning had a chance to grab it but fell just short losing to Monticello 4-3 in the last game of the year. They also lost to the #3 seed Cambridge-Isanti 6-5. The Lightning will await the winner of #7 Sauk Rapids-Rice and #10 Princeton. Northern Lakes defeated Sauk Rapids-Rice 7-3 and did not play Princeton.
3. Cambridge-Isanti 11-6-1 (10-6-1)
The Bluejackets will probably make the argument they should've been the #2 seed after defeating Northern Lakes late in the season, but shouldn't be too upset with the #3 spot. The Bluejackets have beat all of the top teams in the section this season so they will feel confident they can make a state tournament run. They will await the winner of #6 Pine City and #11 Becker-Big Lake. The Bluejackets split one goal games with both of those teams.
4. Chisago Lakes 11-6-1 (10-3-1)
Chisago Lakes has been an early favorite to win this section and many will be surprised to see them with the #4 seed. The Wildcats lost and tied to Monticello and split games against Cambridge-Isanti. They wrapped up the season with a close 2-1 win over Pine City. They will play the winner of #5 St. Francis and #12 Moose Lake. They beat St. Francis in both matchups this year and did not play Moose Lake.
5. St. Francis 9-9 (9-8)
St. Francis record and place in the middle of the standings says everything about them. They split games with just about everyone this season including Monticello, North Branch, and Cambridge-Isanti. The Fighting Saints are a good hockey team when they put it all together. That's the beauty of playoff hockey is if you can put it together at the right time you can make a deep run. They will host #12 Moose Lake who they beat 10-0 earlier in the season.
6. Pine City 9-9 (8-8)
Pine City is almost identical to St. Francis is a lot of ways. They have key victories over Cambridge-Isanti, North Branch, and St. Francis. The Dragons find themselves with a lower seed after not being able to get over the hump against Monticello and Chisago Lakes. Pine City is a team loaded with talent who will likely be happy with how the seedings fell for them. They get a first round matchup with Becker-Big Lake who they defeated twice this season and if they beat the Eagles they will take the short trip to Isanti where they defeated Cambridge-Isanti once this season. If Pine City can put it all together they can make a run at the State Tournament.
7. Sauk Rapids/Rice 6-7-2 (3-2-1)
The Storm end up with maybe a higher seed than some predicted. Their three section wins came against Mora, Monticello, and Becker. With two losses to Northern Lakes and Princeton and their tie was against Cambridge-Isanti. Beating the #1 seed and tying the #3 certainly helped earn a home playoff game. They will take on #10 Princeton who defeated the Storm 4-3 on February 13th.
8. North Branch 6-9-1 (6-6-1)
This is one of the lowest seeds North Branch has had in a while and they will still hold as one of the tougher 8 seeds in the whole state. North Branch scores goals at a very high rate. They split games against Pine City and Chisago Lakes and if they get past #9 Mora they will remind themselves they took #1 Monticello to overtime earlier in the year. They will play #9 Mora/Milaca those two teams did not face off during the regular season.
9. Mora/Milaca 7-7 (4-6)
Much like North Branch Mora is one of tougher #9 seeds you will find. The Mustangs are not in the Mississippi 8 but still played some tough games against Section opponents picking up an early win against Pine City and beating Becker-Big Lake late in the year. Mora played close with Northern Lakes and Chisago Lakes and will be a tough out. They travel to #8 North Branch.
10. Princeton 5-10 (5-9)
Princeton started off the year slow losing their first four games of the year. They ended the season on a high note beating Cambridge-Isanti 4-1. The Tigers will be looking to build off that momentum when they meet #7 Sauk Rapids/Rice in the first round of the playoffs. Princeton already has one win over the Storm and will look to make it a second. If they win against Sauk they will get a matchup with the #2 Northern Lakes which could be a battle.
11. Becker/Big Lake 3-14-1 (1-14-1)
The Eagles are another team that just quite get in the win column. They have played to one goal losses to Chisago Lakes, Monticello, Cambridge-Isanti and Pine City. They tied North Branch on February 12th. They are a team that may not go on a big tournament run but they are also a team nobody can overlook. They will travel to #6 Pine City.
12. Moose Lake Area 2-13 (0-3)
Another tough season for the Moose Lake Area Rebels with just one win on the season. They will travel to St. Francis who defeated them 10-0 earlier in the year.
First Round March 16th at 7:00
#8 North Branch vs #9 Mora
#5 St. Francis vs #12 Moose Lake
#7 Sauk Rapids vs #10 Princeton
#6 Pine City vs #11 Becker
Photo Credit: Four Seasons Photography