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Centennial boys hockey coach Ritch Menne had no issues with his team receiving a No. 3 seed for this week's Class 2A state tournament.

In fact, he prefers playing in Thursday's afternoon quarterfinal at the Xcel Energy Center. Last time he led the Cougars to state, they played in the second evening session game. Centennial won but was unable to refire the engines for the Friday semifinal and lost.

Menne's other realization: his Cougars were under the radar all season. But not underrated. Menne admitted to having "zero expectations" for this season and believes "even our players will say that they can't believe we're here."

Senior defenseman Ty Escobedo got right to the heart of Centennial's identity crisis. He texted Menne after Thursday's 5-2 defeat of Maple Grove, "Not bad for a bunch of nobodies."

Centennial and Cretin-Derham Hall meet at 1 p.m. Thursday, right after No. 2 seed Chanhassen plays Rochester Century/John Marshall to start a day of quarterfinal action.

The evening session features No. 1 seed Edina against Elk River/Zimmerman. Section playoffs weren't kind to top seeds this season. Only one survived and advanced: Grand Rapids, rewarded with the No. 5 seed at the state tournament.

The Thunderhawks face a color-coordinated nightcap against No. 4 seed White Bear Lake.

"The only thing I can guarantee is that there will be a lot of orange and black in the stands," Grand Rapids coach Dan Clafton joked.

On Saturday morning, each head coach cast electronic votes for the other seven qualifying teams in his class. The highest and lowest votes for each team were excluded, and the top five teams were awarded seeds. The remaining three teams were placed by blind draw. This format, scrutinized of late by coaches in many team sports, is expected to be replaced by seeding teams 1-8 beginning next season.

Wednesday's Class 1A quarterfinals begin with New Ulm and last season's runner-up, Warroad, the No. 2 seed, at 11 a.m., followed by Northfield against No. 3 St. Cloud Cathedral. The evening session starts with No. 1 seed Hermantown vs. Alexandria, then No. 5 Orono and defending champion Mahtomedi, the No. 4 seed.

"We're telling our kids to go down there and enjoy the experience," Clafton said. "To enjoy what they worked for. Hopefully, they will be mature enough to reset in the hours before we play our game."

Class 2A quarterfinals

Rochester Century/John Marshall (22-4-2) vs. [2] Chanhassen (23-5-0), 11 a.m.

Cretin-Derham Hall (17-10-1) vs. [3] Centennial (19-7-2), 1 p.m.

[1] Edina (23-4-1) vs. Elk River/Zimmerman (18-9-1), 6 p.m.

[4] White Bear Lake (20-7-1) vs. [5] Grand Rapids (17-11-0), 8 p.m.

Class 1A quarterfinals

New Ulm (23-5-0) vs. [2] Warroad (23-5-0), 11 a.m.

Northfield (22-4-2) vs. [3] St. Cloud Cathedral (23-4-1), 1 p.m.

Alexandria (19-9-1) vs. [1] Hermantown (18-8-2), 6 p.m.

[5] Orono (20-8-0) vs. [4] Mahtomedi (17-11-0), 8 p.m.