Pioneers ascend in hockey rankings

The Hill-Murray boys hockey team is usually a top-10 squad but began the season in the next tier in the state rankings. Last week, the Pioneers found themselves in the top spot.

Thanks to recent victories over a couple of top-10 teams, Hill-Murray landed in the No. 1 spot in the Class AA rankings put together by Let’s Play Hockey. At the time Hill-Murray had lost only one game.

Helping push the Pioneers to the top spot in the poll were victories over Edina and Elk River/Zimmerman. Hill-Murray edged Edina 2-1 at Braemar Arena on Jan. 21 and followed that up with a 4-2 win over Elk River on Jan. 24 at Aldrich Arena.

Those victories pushed Hill-Murray’s winning streak to seven games.

Anthony Hurley and Joey Petronack tallied Hill-Murray’s goals in the win over Edina. Jake Begley made 30 saves, which was his second-highest total of the season behind only a 33-save performance against Eden Prairie in late December.

Against Elk River, Brock Bremer gave Hill-Murray a 1-0 lead in the first period before the Elks responded with a pair of goals to open the second period. The Pioneers then got goals from Joseph Quast and Anthony Betti to take a 3-2 lead to third period. 

In the third, Kyler Yeo scored the only goal of the period to make the final 4-2.

Begley finished with 25 saves.

Hill-Murray’s winning streak was halted by 11th-ranked Maple Grove, which beat the Pioneers 2-0 on Jan. 26 at Aldrich. Begley gave up just one goal —Maple Grove’s second goal came with Begley on the bench for an extra attacker — and made 19 saves, but Hill-Murray couldn’t get anything past Maple Grove netminder Ethan Haider, who made 24 saves.

Hill-Murray hosted Simley on Jan. 28, past the deadline for this edition of the Review.

The Pioneers head out on the road for a pair of non-conference games this week, starting with a trip to defending Class AA state champion Wayzata on Jan. 31. The Trojans (6-11) have struggled to string together victories this season.

Hill-Murray heads to Fogerty Arena in Blaine for a match-up with the 19th-ranked Bengals on Feb. 4. Blaine remained in the top 20 in the rankings despite suffering through a recent five-game losing streak.

 

Hill-Murray girls

Hill-Murray’s girls hockey team is also sitting high in the state rankings. The Pioneers were No. 2 in Class AA last week. Edina, which beat the Pioneers in early December, was ranked No. 1.

The girls hockey regular season is quickly coming to a conclusion. Hill-Murray has two games left on the schedule.

The Pioneers host St. Paul United on Jan. 31 and Benilde-St. Margaret’s on Feb. 4.

After that, Hill-Murray turns its attention to the post-season and the Section 4AA playoffs. The Pioneers are almost assured of being the No. 1 seed in the section and are the heavy favorites to return to the state tournament for the fifth straight year.

 

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

Class AA hockey rankings Jan. 25th

Boys

1 – Hill-Murray

2 – Eden Prairie

3 – Stillwater

4 – Edina

5 – Elk River/Zimmerman

6 – Lakeville North

7 – Holy Family Catholic

8 – Centennial

9 – Grand Rapids

10 – St. Thomas Academy

11 – Maple Grove

12 – Duluth East

13 – Minnetonka

14 – White Bear Lake

15 – Moorhead

16 – Lakeville South

17 – St. Michael-Albertville

18 – Burnsville

19 – Blaine

20 – Roseau

Girls

1 – Edina

2 – Hill-Murray

3 – Maple Grove

4 – Eden Prairie

5 – Blaine

6 – Elk River/Zimmerman

7 – Cretin-Derham Hall

8 – Centennial

9 – Lakeville South

10 – Minnetonka

11 – Chaska/Chanhassen

12 – Forest Lake

13 – Mounds View

14 – Brainerd/Little Falls

15 – Hopkins/Park

16 – Wayzata

17 – White Bear Lake

18 – Eagan

19 – Grand Rapids/Greenway

20 - Shakopee 

 

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