The 12-0 Lakeville North boys hockey team remains ranked No. 1 in class 2A for the fifth-consecutive week in the latest Let’s Play Hockey rankings, and this is no small feat.
Coming into the season, it wasn’t a secret that this Lakeville North team was a top five team on paper. With six Division-I skaters, including new goaltender Ryan Edquist, a return to the state championship was quite fathomable.
But, in order to be considered the best class 2A team in the state, they knew they’d need to beat that team in order to seize that spot. The Panthers did just that in the early part of December with a 3-1 victory over the then No. 1 Edina Hornets.
Five weeks later, no team has been able to unseat Lakeville North, which is an impressive run considering some of the opponents the Panthers have faced since the Edina game.
Lakeville North has defeated No. 8 Burnsville, No. 4 Hill-Murray, No. 19 Lakeville South, No. 10 Benilde-St. Margaret’s, No. 6 Wayzata, and their most dominant win, a 10-1 victory over No. 17 Moorhead. Perhaps even more impressive is that in the last 25 regular season games, the Panthers have only lost once.
It is quite the accomplishment to last this long at the top of class 2A since Lakeville North could fall in the rankings with even just one loss. The games against Burnsville, Hill-Murray or even Wayzata could have been that loss, yet the Panthers continue to build on their undefeated record in 2014-2015.
“We know that every time we go into somebody’s building, this is the game they want to win,” Panthers head coach Trent Eigner said. “We’re the team they want to beat more than anybody.”
“They are determined to give us everything they have each night,” defender Jack Sadek added.
This team just needs to continue to live up to its billing of a state championship caliber team. They didn’t look to be that team when I saw them escape Farmington in the season opener, 6-5. But since that Edina game, they’ve shown that championship level of play almost every game.
They have won games with large contributions from the well-known Poehling brothers. But they also have seen contributions from younger members on offense such as sophomores Henry Enebak and Reed Smith. They’ve also won games by stonewall-type defense from Edquist and defenders Jack McNeely, Jack Sadek, and Angelo Altavilla. Lakeville North can compete in high scoring games, but its depth also allows it to stifle teams in defensive battles.
In my mind, the potent combination of the Poehling brothers on offense and Division-I skaters in Sadek and McNeely on defense, make this team the strongest Lakeville North High School has to offer in 2014-2015.
But the Minnesota State High School League isn’t about to call-off the hockey season and hand over the championship trophy to Lakeville North. These are high school athletes competing, not professionals, so all it would take is one game of complacency for the Panthers to drop in the rankings.
Yet to the future University of Minnesota Golden Gopher Jack Sadek, the Panthers aren’t about to give up their position without a fight.
“We have worked really hard to make it to that spot and we will do everything we can to stay at that spot,” he said.
This week’s top 10 from Class 2A via Let’s Play Hockey:
Minnesota Boys HS Class AA Top 10: 1 Lakeville North 2 Edina 3 STA 4 Hill-Murray 5 Elk River 6 Wayzata 7 EP 8 Burnsville 9 WBL 10 Benilde
— Let’s Play Hockey (@LetsPlay_Hockey) January 7, 2015