Boys hockey: Cardinals set for rematch with Mahtomedi to begin the state tournament
Mahtomedi beat Alexandria, 4-2, in the third-place game at the 2022 MSHSL Class A State Tournament. One year later, Alexandria has another crack at Mahtomedi, this time to begin the 2023 Class A state tournament at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Alexandria boys hockey team begins the 2023 MSHSL Class A Tournament on Wednesday, March 8 at 1 p.m. against the team that ended their season at the 2022 state tournament, the Mahotmedi Zephyrs.
Alexandria (14-12-1) is unseeded, while Mahtomedi (20-8) is the No. 3 seed.
The Zephyrs beat the Cardinals 4-2 in the third-place game at the 2022 state tournament , and the Cardinals are trying to use that game as a learning experience.
"Going off last year's experience, we know they're going to be very structured in how they play the game," Alexandria head coach Josh Meyers said. "They've got a lot of depth too. They like to roll three lines and three sets of defenders."
The Cardinals have a heavy dose of upperclassmen who played in that third-place game a year ago and are working to have a different result this time.
"Having that state tournament experience is a big bonus, especially with last year still being fresh in our heads," Meyers said. "The off-the-ice and planning stuff is so much more familiar now. We have 12 guys from last year's state tournament team that are still here, so there's not going to be as much of an awe-struck moment for them. Having their experience is huge, and we'll look to utilize that."
Both teams come into the tournament with a full head of steam, as Alexandria, the Section 6A champion , has won six games in a row and 12 out of its last 14 after starting 1-9 this season, while Mahtomedi, the Section 4A champion, has won nine-straight games.
Alexandria has 10 seniors on its roster and aims to use their experience to help them at the state tournament.
"Having them is huge, and you don't want to go through what we did at the start of the season, especially your seniors. You don't want their last year to be remembered that way," Meyers said. "For us to get to where we are now is huge. They were all such a huge part of why we were able to do that. I'm very happy that they get to experience this in their last year, and hopefully, we can make it even more memorable."
Alexandria and Mahtomedi play at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul at 1 p.m. on Wednesday in the Class A quarterfinals. All Class A and AA quarterfinal, semifinal, and championship games will be played at the Xcel Energy Center and will be broadcasted on KSTP.
The consolation bracket games will be played at 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis. They will be live-streamed online by 45tv (the live-stream costs money) .
"Our confidence is high, based on what we started last year and then what we accomplished this year with the turnaround. There's going to be pressure just because of playing in the state tournament, but at the same time, for us, there's not as much pressure. A lot of people didn't believe in us, but we believed in ourselves. Just getting to where we now seem to be quite an accomplishment. So hopefully that that relieves a lot of the pressure on us."
Mahtomedi is averaging 4.93 goals per game this season and is holding opponents to 2.32 goals per game.
"We got to make sure we're moving our feet," Meyers said. "Mahtomedi is a team that has a lot of speed. So we've got to make sure that we're matching their speed with our speed, whether that's offensively or defensively; taking out the middle ice area and forcing them to the outside will be huge. We have to keep the game simple, get the puck deep to pressure their defensemen and pressure them that way."
Alexandria comes into the tournament averaging 4.07 goals per game and allows 3.07.
The winner of Wednesday's game plays on Friday, March 10 at 11 a.m. against the winner of the Hermantown/Luverne quarterfinal game in the semifinals, while the losers of those games play one another at 10 a.m. on Thursday.
The Class A Championship game is set for noon on Saturday, March 11, at the Xcel Energy Center.