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Previews for each section in 1A boys' hockey

Could we have a tourney without Breck and Hermantown?
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Section tournaments are underway this week and we'll soon know what the brackets for the 2018 Minnesota State High School League boys' hockey state tournament will look like. 

For all of the brackets, click here

Section 1A

Albert Lea is the top seed and unbeaten in its last 10 games, so they're the on-paper favorite. But this section is as wide open as any. 

Rochester Lourdes has been in the winner's circle plenty of times, but to do so this season they'll likely have to beat Albert Lea in the quarterfinals. Lourdes lost twice by one goal to Albert Lea during the regular season.

Mankato East, Mankato West and Minnesota River have also shown the ability to compete with any team in the section. 

Section 2A

Breck and Delano have been the most dominant in this section in recent years, but the favorites in 2018 are Orono and Mound-Westonka, who rank 5th and 6th in the latest polls, respectively. 

Orono went a combined 5-0 in the regular season against Breck, Delano and Mound-Westonka, but four of the five wins were by a single goal. 

Meanwhile, Minneapolis beat Orono and Breck during the regular season but got beat handily by Delano and Mound-Westonka, although those losses were back in December. 

Section 3A

Top seed Luverne comes in as a pretty heavy favorite having already picked up impressive wins against second-seeded Litchfield and third-seeded Marshall. They haven't played four-seed Hutchinson, but they could get that opportunity in the second round. 

Hutchinson might be a tough out considering they've proven they can play with upper-end teams like Orono this season. 

Section 4A

No disrespect to any other team in this section, but Mahtomedi is a very heavy favorite. Simply consider the fact that they crushed South St. Paul 6-1 in the regular season, and South St. Paul is the 2-seed in the section. 

Section 5A

Although no team in this section has beaten Monticello this season, it's fairly wide open with Monticello, North Branch and Princeton as the top three teams. 

Monticello took second in state last season. 

Section 6A

It's St. Cloud Cathedral's section and every other team is just living in it. The Crusaders went 4-0 against Sartell, Alexandria and Little Falls – the 2-4 seeds in the section – and beat them by a combined score of 21-4. 

Little Falls could be a tough matchup for Cathedral in the semifinals, however, with the Flyers likely gaining confidence in a narrow 4-3 overtime loss to Cathedral on Jan. 23.

Section 7A

Once again, Hermantown is the No. 1 seed and the favorite to return to the state tournament, where they've been crowned Class A champions each of the last two seasons. 

The Hawks will undoubtedly roll into the semifinals and then easily take care of Duluth Denfeld or International Falls. The section final against Virginia or Greenway could be difficult, with both teams playing Hermantown tough during the regular season. 

Section 8A

Warroad and East Grand Forks got the top two seeds but watch out for 3-seed Crookston. The Pirates beat both the top seeds in the regular season. 

In fairness, Warroad lost to Crookston during their six-game losing streak to start the season and has since pounded Crookston 8-1 on Jan. 13. They also destroyed East Grand Forks 8-1 a couple of weeks later, so based on recency, Warroad looks strong. 

Believe it or not, Warroad hasn't reached the state tournament since 2010. 

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