The CCM Minnesota Hockey High Performance Tier I Leagues will host its League Playoffs starting this Friday, September 27 at the Super Rink in Blaine, MN. The Girls 14U and Youth 14U classifications will host their playoffs on September 27-29, and the Youth 15 playoffs will be held October 4-6.
The HP Tier I League Playoff format returns this season after a one-year hiatus. Teams at each level will once again compete in a double elimination tournament, with the top teams advancing to Minnesota District Playoffs and the champion claiming the Taconite Trophy. Last season, teams advanced to District Playoffs based on final standings, and the top regular season team was awarded the Taconite Trophy.
Below is a preview of the opening round games at each level. For brackets, scores, statistics, follow the respective links below for each age group and follow @MinnHockeyHP on Twitter for live updates.
#1 Lakers vs. #8 Blue Ox – The Lakers enter League Playoffs as the favorite after a dominant regular season in which they scored over 100 goals in 14 games and went undefeated. The Blue Ox are well aware of the task ahead of them after two lopsided losses to the Lakers during the season, but they have shown flashes of being able to compete with the top teams during the season.
#4 Loons vs. #5 Moose – Both of these teams enter the playoffs playing their best hockey of the season. The Loons lost three of their first four games but have progressed through the year and finished the season on a five-game unbeaten streak, including a 4-3 win over the Moose. The Moose also had a slow start but have been better down the stretch and will give the Loons everything they can handle.
#2 Walleye vs. #7 Polars – As the only team to put a blemish on the Lakers’ record (a tie) and an all-around strong season, the Walleye have their eyes set on the top prize. The Polars have a different plan in mind after playing two of their best games against the Walleye. If the Polars can shut down the Walleye’s dynamic duo of Mound Westonka forwards Gretta Pioske and Sydney Leonard, they could claw their way into the semifinals.
#3 Green Giants vs. #6 Voyageurs – The two-time defending Minnesota District Champion Green Giants sport the league’s top defense, allowing only 14 goals in 13 league games. The Green Giants have claimed a pair of victories over the Voyageurs already, but the Voyageurs have shown they can compete against the top teams and are on a bit of a roll having earned points in three of their last four games.
To view the full Girls 14U Tier I League Playoff bracket, click here. The top four teams in the CCM HP Girls 14U Tier I League Playoffs will advance to the Minnesota District Playoffs on October 5-6 in Plymouth, MN.
#1 Walleye vs. #8 Polars – After a tie and loss to start the year, the Walleye have gone 8-1 against League teams using a combination of balanced scoring and strong goaltending to roll through their schedule. They won’t have an easy path to the semifinals though. The Polars played them to a 2-1 game earlier this season, showing they’re fully capable of pulling off the upset.
#4 Lakers vs. #5 Blue Ox – The Lakers feature the top defensive team in the Youth 14U League, giving up less than two goals per game, and it's shown as both games between these two teams have been low scoring showdowns. The Blue Ox won the teams’ most recent meeting, forcing a split during the regular season and setting the stage for a meaningful deciding game.
#2 Loons vs. #7 Voyageurs – If you’re a fan of high scoring affairs, this will likely be your kind of game. The Loons and Voyageurs boast two of the top scorers in the league in Grant Dean (Mounds View) and Samuel Kartch (Duluth). Dean and Katch each posted 17 points during the season, and they both had multi-point efforts during a wild regular season matchup the Loons won 7-5.
#3 Green Giants vs. #6 Moose – Led by Tristen May (Andover), who tallied a league high 19 points, the Green Giants featured the league’s highest scoring offense with 63 goals. The Green Giants swept the Moose with wins of 3-0 and 5-1, but the Moose have played noticeably better down the stretch with the majority of their wins coming since the last time the two teams played.
To view the full Youth 14U Tier I League Playoff bracket, click here. The top three teams in the CCM HP Youth 14U Tier I League Playoffs will advance to the Minnesota District Playoffs on October 5-6 in Plymouth, MN.
#1 Green Giants – After an 0-2 start, the defending Minnesota District Champions went 9-1 down the stretch to earn a bye in playoffs. The Green Giants have the league’s top team offense, led by Gavyn Thoreson (Andover) who led the league in goals (12) and points (20).
#4 Loons vs #5 Lakers – The Loons also had a slow start to the year, losing five of their first six games, but they have only lost once since, including a 4-2 win over Lakers in their only meeting. The Lakers have shown they’re as dangerous as any team in the league, claiming wins over the top-seeded Green Giants and a win and a tie against the Walleye, but inconsistency left them with a lower seed.
#2 Blue Ox vs #7 Moose – On paper, this match-up between the league’s stingiest defense and consistently strong Blue Ox team against the Moose, who only have one win in league play, would appear to be an easy win for the higher seed. The Moose are far better than their league record suggests and present a dangerous first round test.
#3 Walleye vs #6 Polars – With balanced scoring, a strong blue line and great goaltending, the Walleye have the tools to make a deep run during the postseason. The challenge for them in this quarterfinal tilt will be shutting down Casy Laylin (St. Michael-Albertville), who recorded a point on over half of the goals the Polars scored and finished second in the league in scoring. The key for the Polars will be team defense and goaltending, as they’ve gone 5-1-1 in games they’ve allowed three or less goals but have been 0-7 in games they allow four or more goals.
To view the full Youth 15 Tier I League Playoff bracket, click here. The top three teams in the CCM HP Youth 15 Tier I League Playoffs will advance to the Minnesota District Playoffs on October 12-13 in Plymouth, MN.