Minnesota High School Hockey: 2023-24 Section 6A Preseason Preview

Many thought there would be at least one addition to this small outstate section when the MSHSL came out with realignment this past spring. However, no such changes were made which has become a huge advantage to the section’s biggest school in Alexandria. Over the last two years they have been able to make consecutive trips to St Paul for the first time in school history. Looking at things on paper, are we looking at a three peat? Northern Lakes would like to think not so fast as they bring back an experienced team that came on strong last winter. Also, don’t count out Fergus Falls just yet as they were ohh so close again to the State Tourney losing for third time in the Section Final and for the second time in overtime to make it hurt and feel that much more painful. It will be interesting to see if someone can knock off the Cards who have quickly become the class of this small Mid-state Section.

Section 6A Preseason Poll (8 Teams)

1- Alexandria

2- Northern Lakes

3- Fergus Falls

4- Morris Benson

5- Prairie Centre

6- Wadena Deer Creek

7- Willmar

8- Breckenridge/Wahpeton

1- Alexandria- After a dreadful start to their year this past season the Cardinals were able to rebound in a big way and ended up placing 6th Place at State. This winter the Cards were again hit by graduation and Northstar Christian Academy cherry picking very good local players from their great youth programs but they still have a nice Senior core returning. Up front Seniors Leo Kompelien, Gavin Olson, Evan Anderson, Caleb Lind return from the top 3 lines to bring point production and varsity experience to build off of. On defense they return Seniors Jack Lamski, Gage Castle & Bennett Olsen who all played good minutes as top 6 defenseman. They will need a goalie again, which proved to be a big issue last season, but they had a solid AA Bantam crew coming up and they should be the favorite again in 6A.

2- Northern Lakes- The Lightning look like a team that should be on an upswing this winter. They return a good scoring punch up front at forward in Senior Logan Verville along with Juniors Easton Anderson, Jerome Martin & Finnegan Fogarty all who had double digit goals on the year last winter. Defensively, Senior Isaac Peterson has been very good on the blue line and has three years of experience and should be one of the top players in the area and they will also return youngster Junior Wyatt Balmer who is coming off a very predictive year of his own. They will need more stable play from goaltender Senior Nigel DeSanto but he does have two years of varsity experience and if you figure in that his group of Juniors placed 2nd in A Bantam two winters ago and really improved as last year went along this could be the team to watch in 6A.

3- Fergus Falls- The Otters have had some of the best teams in Class A the last three  years but have come up just short of the X losing in three consecutive Section Finals. They should have another good team this winter they return 4 of their top 6 scorers including forwards Senior Kellen Stenstrom, Shane Zierden & Junior Jack Welde and along with defenseman Senior Leighton Buckmeier all who had double digit points last winter. They will have a big question mark to replace in net but this should be another good contending year in 6A for the Otters who will look to get back to the Section Final yet again but this year push through to St Paul.

4- Morris Benson= The Storm made their first ever appearance in program history two years ago in the Section Semifinal and nearly made it back last year after a red hot second half stretch but they fell in a double overtime heartbreaker in the Quarterfinal round. They were hit hard by graduation but they do return two key pieces in 32 goal sniper Senior Charlie Goff and starting goalie Senior Christopher Danielson who were very good during their second half run. This looks like it could be enough to make just their second ever appearance in the Section Semifinals this winter.

5- Prairie Centre- The North Stars could be poised for a big year in the wide open bottom half of Section 6A. Yes, they did lose their all everything forward Eli Fletcher but after that they return a lot of experience to the line up. Sophomore James Rieland is back with 40 plus points, along with Seniors Jesse Williams & Zac Bick who each had 20 plus points to lead the attack. They also bring back goaltending as Junior Carter Holman is back in net and should improve from his sophomore campaign. Looking at what is left in 6A why can’t they be a 5 seed and contend for their first ever section semifinal appearance?

6- Wadena Deer Creek- The Wolverines were decimated this offseason as they lost their huge senior class and their veteran head coach. There was some discussion as to whether or not they would even have enough players to field a team this winter. They will in fact have a team and it will be built around goaltender Senior Gunner Olson who returns with a wealth of varsity experience. They also return Juniors Carson Davis & Cooper Ness who each had double digit points to start their rebuking project around. However, with what is left in this section they should have the inside track to the number 5 seed.

7- Willmar- This once proud program has really hit rough times recently. They will look to grow off a 9 win season last winter. They do return their star in Senior Cullen Gregory who returned after a 20 goal season last winter. However, there will be plenty of depth questions. They do have to return a goaltender but they will need much better play there but again looking at the rest of this section a 5 seed does seem within their reach.

8- Breckenridge/Wahpeton- The BW Blades were able to pick up their first program win in over 2 ½ years last winter which was a very big step forward for the struggling program. They will look to have more issues this winter but they do return their 2nd leading scorer in Sophomore Josh Hofman but they will again be thin and just hoping they keep the program alive up there on the North Dakota border.