‘Tis the season for holiday tournaments-Bulletin Area Sports

For many, the week between Christmas and New Years means returning to work, returning unwanted gifts or maybe returning to that diet that got away from them for a few days around Christmas. That same stretch of days means a return to competition for many high school sports teams.

Most of those teams are playing in holiday tournaments that week. Here's a rundown of which Bulletin-area prep squads are in action over the holiday break.

Girls hockey

The girls hockey teams from Irondale/St. Anthony Village and Mounds View are headed back to familiar territory for their holiday tournaments. Irondale is playing in the Walser Invitational for the eighth straight year while Mounds View is in the Kaposia Classic for third consecutive year.

The Walser Invitational, hosted by Edina High School at Braemar Arena, features an eight-team field and five of those squads are ranked. The host Hornets are ranked fourth in Class AA and followed by Maple Grove at No. 5. Lakeville South in 11th, Stillwater is 14th and Breck is ranked No. 2 in Class A.

Irondale opens the tournament on Dec. 28 with a 2:15 p.m. contest against Maple Grove. Day two will pit the Knights against either Stillwater or Hopkins while Grand Rapids/Greenway, Breck, Lakeville South and Edina are in the bottom half of the bracket.

In Irondale's previous seven trips to the Walser Invitational, it has finished third or better three times. The Knights won the whole thing in 2009, took second in 2013 and finished third in 2012.

Mounds View doesn't have quite as long a history at the Kaposia Classic. This is the Mustangs' third trip and they are coming back after finishing second last season. Mounds View beat Hibbing/Chisholm and International Falls before losing to Blake in the finals.

Of the eight teams that participated last year, only International Falls is not back this year. Replacing the Broncos is Elk River/Zimmerman.

Mounds View plays the first game of the tournament at 1 p.m. on Dec. 31 and faces Blake, the No. 1-ranked team in Class A with a 12-1-1 record. The Bears' lone loss this season came at the hands of Hill-Murray, the No. 1-ranked team in Class AA.

Mounds View's second-round game on Jan. 1 will be against either Hill-Murray or Jefferson/Kennedy. The bottom half of the bracket includes Elk River, Roseville, Hibbing and South St. Paul. Elk River is ranked eighth in Class AA.

Girls basketball

The three Bulletin-area girls basketball teams are taking part in tournaments in which they've appeared for numerous years.

This is the fifth year of the Irondale Holiday Tournament and the host Knights are the defending champions. They beat St. Francis and North St. Paul last year to win the title.

The tournament field this time around again features Irondale, St. Francis and North St. Paul along with newcomer Duluth East. St. Francis and Duluth East meet in the first semifinal on Dec. 29 at 4 p.m. followed by Irondale and North St. Paul. Game times are the same on Dec. 30.

Mounds View is back in the Hill-Murray Holiday Tournament for the fourth straight year and is looking to improve on last year's fourth-place finish. The Mustangs have been slowly improving, going from seventh place in 2012 to fifth place in 2013.

Mounds View opens the three-day tournament on Dec. 28 in the final quarterfinal of day. The Mustangs play Hill-Murray at 8:15 p.m. and will take on either Wayzata or Forest Lake in the second round on Dec. 29. The other half of the bracket features Park-Cottage Grove, Henry Sibley, Cretin-Derham Hall and Mahtomedi. The tournament wraps up with the finals on Dec. 30.

St. Anthony Village has an easy commute for its tournament at Roseville Area High School. This is the fifth year of the Roseville Holiday Girls Basketball Tournament and the Huskies have appeared in all of them.

St. Anthony plays the first game of the tournament at 2:45 p.m. on Dec. 28 against Apple Valley. The Huskies' second-round opponent will be either Bloomington Jefferson or Centennial.

The other half of the tournament bracket features Lakeville South, Andover, Robbinsdale Cooper and Roseville. Cooper is the lone newcomer to the tournament while the other seven teams all played in it last season.

St. Anthony's highest finish in its four previous trips to the tournament was fifth, which it achieved in 2011.

Boys hockey

Irondale/St. Anthony Village has the longest drive of any Bulletin-area team for a holiday tournament while Mounds View is just a hop, skip and jump from home.

After playing in the Schwan Cup the last two seasons, the Knights decided it was time for a change of scenery and that scenery should include parts of extreme northwest Minnesota. So they chose Roseau.

Irondale is one of eight teams making the trek and will face Minot (N.D.) in the first round on Dec. 28. Minot is the defending North Dakota state champion.

The other teams in the tournament are Park Rapids, Devilís Lake, another North Dakota state-tournament team from last season, the host Rams, Faribault, Lake of the Woods and Henry Sibley. The tournament concludes with the finals on Dec. 30.

Mounds View is playing in the Schwan Cup for the sixth consecutive year and third in the Silver Division. The Mustangs were promoted to the Silver bracket in 2013 after winning the Bronze Division the year before. Mounds View finished runner-up in the Bronze in 2010 and 2011 before finally breaking through and winning it in 2012.

In two appearances in the Silver division, Mounds View has finished eighth and seventh.

Mounds View opens this year's tournament at 8 p.m. on Dec. 28 at the Super Rink in Blaine against St. Michael-Albertville, the 2014 Bronze champion. Awaiting the Mustangs in the second round on Dec. 29 is either Eastview or Mahtomedi. Mahtomedi played in a different tournament last year while Eastview finished seventh in the Schwan Cup Gold division last season.

The other half of the bracket has a quarterfinal between Breck and Buffalo and another between Lakeville South and Rosemount.

The 2014 Silver champion Centennial was promoted to the Gold division this season.

Boys basketball

Irondale and Mounds View are playing in two-day tournaments while St. Anthony Village is playing a single game.

Irondale returns to the Hastings tournament for the second consecutive year after going five years without appearing in a holiday event. The Knights went 0-2 in the tournament with losses to Hastings and New Prague.

This time around, the Knights get New Prague in the first round on Dec. 29 at 5 p.m. Prescott (Wisc.) is the defending champion and plays the host Raiders at 7 p.m.

On Dec. 30, the two losing teams from day one square off for third place at 5 p.m. while the winning teams play for the championship at 7 p.m.

Prior to playing in the Hastings tournament, Irondale went tournament-less for five years. In that stretch, the Knights only once played a game between Christmas and New Year's. That was in 2010 against Anoka, which won 72-70.

From 2005-08, Irondale played in the three-day, eight-team Anoka tournament and struggled to a 3-9 record in that stretch.

Aside from 2013, Mounds View has been a fixture at the Bethel tournament for years. The Mustangs won the four-team tournament last year by beating Eagan and Minnehaha Academy.

This year's tournament features Andover, Bloomington Jefferson, Mahtomedi and the Mustangs. Jefferson and Andover play the first semifinal on Dec. 28 at 6 p.m. while Mounds View and Mahtomedi square off at 7:45 p.m.

Day two of the tournament is Dec. 29 and features the third-place game at 2:30 p.m. and the championship at 7:45 p.m.

Mounds View's one year away from Bethel was in 2013, when the Mustangs won a tournament in Windom by beating Albert Lea and the host Eagles.

St. Anthony hasn't been to same place for the holidays in back-to-back years since 2010 and 2011, when the Huskies won the Fridley tournament both years. St. Anthony didn't play at all over the holiday break in 2012, went 0-2 at the Princeton tournament in 2013 and went 0-2 in a tournament in Rochester last year.

This year, the Huskies are staying close to home during the break and playing just one game. They host PACT Charter on Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.

Wrestling

While basketball and hockey dominate the holiday-break high school sports scene, there's usually a few wrestling events sprinkled in. One of them takes place at Foley High School and Mounds View is sending its team.

The tournament is Dec. 30 at 10 a.m. and includes 15 teams. The field features Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena, Canby, Foley, Forest Lake, Holdingford, Monticello, Mounds View, Pine City, Rogers, Royalton, Sauk Rapids-Rice, St. Cloud Apollo and St. Cloud Tech.

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


Kaposia Classic (Girls hockey)
Site: Doug Woog Arena, South St. Paul
Dates: Dec. 31-Jan. 2
Participating teams: Mounds View, Blake, Hill-Murray, Jefferson/Kennedy, Elk River/Zimmerman, Roseville, Hibbing/Chisholm, South St. Paul

Walser Invitational (Girls hockey)
Site: Braemar Arena, Edina
Dates: Dec. 28-30
Participating teams: Stillwater, Hopkins, Maple Grove, Irondale/St. Anthony Village, Grand Rapids/Greenway, Breck, Lakeville South, Edina

Hill-Murray Holiday Tournament (Girls basketball)
Site: Hill-Murray School
Dates: Dec. 28-30
Participating teams: Park-Cottage Grove, Henry Sibley, Cretin-Derham Hall, Mahtomedi, Wayzata, Forest Lake, Mounds View, Hill-Murray

Irondale Holiday Tournament  (Girls basketball)
Site: Irondale High School, New Brighton
Dates: Dec. 29-30
Participating teams: St. Francis, Duluth East, Irondale, North

Roseville Holiday Girls Basketball Tournament
Site: Roseville Area High School
Dates: Dec. 28-30
Participating teams: St. Anthony Village, Apple Valley, Bloomington Jefferson, Centennial, Lakeville South, Andover, Robbinsdale Cooper, Roseville

Schwan Cup Silver Division (Boys hockey)
Site: Super Rink, Blaine; Ridder Arena, University of Minnesota
Dates: Dec. 28-30
Participating teams: Breck, Buffalo, Lakeville South, Rosemount, Eastview, Mahtomedi, Mounds View, St. Michael-Albertville

Roseau Tournament (Boys hockey)
Site: Roseau Memorial Arena
Dates: Dec. 28-30
Participating teams: Devil's Lake (N.D.), Park Rapids, Minot (N.D.), Irondale/St. Anthony Village, Roseau, Faribault, Lake of the Woods, Henry Sibley

Bethel Holiday Tournament (Boys basketball)
Site: Bethel University, Arden Hills
Dates: Dec. 29-30
Participating teams: Andover, Bloomington Jefferson, Mounds View, Mahtomedi

Hastings tournament (Boys basketball)
Site: Hastings High School
Dates: Dec. 29-30
Participating teams: Irondale, New Prague, Hastings, Prescott (Wisc.)
 

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