Minnesota High School Hockey: 2023-24 Section 4A Preseason Preview

Handicapping Section 4A over the last decade has been pretty easy to predict: it’s the favorite Mahtomedi, who has won 7 of the last 10 Section Titles, and then a large gap and everyone else. The MSHSL has shaken things up with this section over the years and many main contenders in the old 4A days like STA, TG and Gentry Academy have all moved up to AA leaving the Zephyrs to run this section recently. The newest most recent realignment did bring a new contender in Southwest Christian into the section, and they have a good senior core returning but not sure they will have enough to take down the Defending State Champions. Chisago Lakes has been the main contender in recent years and did put a scare in the Zephyrs in last winter’s Section Championship, but they were hit very hard by graduation. South St Paul has a new coach looking to return the program to glory and a stud in net while Simley returns 15 Seniors that should make them experienced and tough and contenders again. However, anyway you look at it, this Section seems to be the Zephyrs to win yet again this winter.

Section 4A Preseason Poll (8 Teams)

1- Mahtomedi

2- Southwest Christian

3- Simley

4- Chisago Lakes

5- St. Paul Academy

6- St. Paul Highland Park

7- South St Paul

8- Bloomington Kennedy

1- Mahtomedi- The defending State Champion Zephyrs were hit hard by graduation and lost some of their top young players to Hill Murray, but we can no longer discount a program that has won two of the last four Class A titles. There is still a good core leftover from last year’s championship crew. Offensively they return underclassmen super Sophomore Jimmy Egan who along with Seniors Patrick Egan & Jake Hodd-Chlebeck have good varsity experience and will be leaned on heavily to produce and they always seem to churn out a new batch of hard-working forwards to run their system. On defense there is a lot to like as they return Seniors William Brummel, Wyatt Tarnowski & Cole Swanson along with superb Junior Sam Harris to have a solid core to build around and add in the return of athletic netminder Senior Charlie Brandt back in net having championship pedigree and there is more than enough here to have another very good team again this season and win 4A yet again and defend their Class A Title.

2- Southwest Christian- The Stars were moved into Section 4A using their Richfield address and appear to be the top contender to the Zephyrs to knock off the kings of 4A. They look to have a very good team as this program has been building over the last few years and seems primed to make not only the program’s first ever Semi Final but a first ever Section Final seems very achievable. The reason for the optimism is what returns to a roster that came on strong last year as they return 7 of their 9 learning scorers. Up front Seniors Jared Greiner, Eli Hoffman, Kaden Feltmann, Owen Zick & Junior Paul Hornor are all back having double digit points for scoring depth. On the Blueline, Senior Kael Lundquist & Sophomore Tate Hardacre are back with double digit points. Then add in they return 6 ‘6 goaltender Senior Jannes Kamp who will keep the Stars in every game. Again, it looks like a big year for this young program to make a splash in their new section home. 

3- Simley- The Spartans had an up and down year last year, but they look to be a very solid contender to move back up the ladder in the 4A hierarchy this winter. They return a very veteran crew that includes 15 seniors as they will be led by Seniors Matt Milner & Jake Stanton who have been very productive the last two winters. Add in the depth of Seniors Zach Hilsgen, Louis Tuccitto and hopefully a healthy return for Senior Nick Binsfeld who lost most of last season to injury and there is a good core of experience returning. They also return their starting goalie in Senior Mason Melendez in net, and this again should be a much-improved team and push for a 2 or 3 seed and be fighting to make a section final appearance in 4A this winter. This Simley group resembles the Spartan team from two years ago that won 18 games and lost a heartbreaker in the 4A Semifinals in double overtime.

4- Chisago Lakes- The Wildcats have been the Section 4A Runner-up the last two winters and last year they gave the Zephyrs a surprising run for their money before falling just short. However, this year it looks by all accounts to be a rebuild as they graduated a large chunk of last year’s roster. However, given their recent success Chisago Lakes should be given the benefit of the doubt that they can be right in the middle in 4A again this winter. They do return leading scorer Senior Jack Bakken and they will have defender Seniors Andrew Swanson & Dustin Palewicz back on the blueline. They will need development in players like Senior Griffen Perrault and Juniors Ben Kerkow & Max Bobrowski to build off decent Junior and Sophomore years and there will be questions for who takes over the net. How well this team can answer those questions will be a key factor if they can get back to the Section Final for a third straight year.

5- St Paul Academy- The Spartans had a very nice year last year gaining a 4 seed and advancing to the Section 4A Semifinals before things unraveled vs the Zephyrs. They look to have a very nice team coming back to have as Senior Will Black returns, who was one of the team’s leading scorers last winter. Junior Ethan Peltier is back as well coming off a double-digit campaign and Senior Casey Lynn is back with double digits points from the blue line last year. In the net they return the starter near the end of the year in Senior Isak Bildtsen and they will hope for more consistency for him as they look to have another solid year.

6- St Paul Highland Park- The Scots are another team looking to grow and be better after having a 10-win season last winter. They have to like their lineup that returns 2nd leading scorer Junior Isaac Johnson along with Seniors Benny Waud, Thomas Bradford, Oscar Andestic, Emmett Eischens who all had double digits points on the winter last season. They will need growth from Junior Calum Axelson in the net as the youngster did get some time last year but will have a more prominent role this winter.

7- South St Paul- The Packers are hoping that a new coach will inject some life into a struggling historic program of late. They are coming off a painful 4-win season and will look to show some growth this winter. They do return leading scorer Senior Ray Rozales who will hope to ignite a more explosive attack for a team that only scored 45 goals the entire year. If they can score more they could become dangerous as their goaltender Junior Wyatt Cheney was outstanding at times last year and regularly saw 50-60 shots a night. He is good enough to steal a game on any night to make the Packers a scary team to play.

8- Bloomington Kennedy- It was a tough winter for the Eagles last winter as they were only able to manage 3 wins. Here’s to hoping that a change of scenery will help as they moved from Section 2A to 4A in the offseason. They will need some guys to step up as they lost a good chunk of production to graduation but they will look to Senior Nick Manning to help lead the way as the team’s 2nd leading scorer from a year ago. They do return their starting goalie duo of Seniors Dom Walton & Rohr Brockman to provide some stability and look to get a few more wins this winter.