OK. We’ve reached the point in the season where everyone is taking notice of the Minnesota state hockey playoffs.
Then it’ll be the state tournament. Of course the state tournament will make stars of certain kids leading many to wonder their junior hockey futures. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s a list of what teams have a few Minnesota high school hockey standouts on their active roster or on their affiliates list.
Des Moines Buccaneers:
-Michael Zajac, forward, Eagan (Princeton): His rights were acquired by the Buccaneers during the USHL trade deadline. Zajac has 51 points through 27 games last season and scored four goals in the first two playoff games. Zajac is on Des Moines’ affiliates list and it is unknown if he’ll play a year of juniors or go straight to Princeton.
Dubuque Fighting Saints:
-Karson Kuhlman, forward, Cloquet: Kuhlman might not have a lot of star power with his name but that could change. The sophomore scored 55 points (27 goals, 28 assists) in 26 games and led his team in scoring. Cloquet was eliminated by Elk River in the playoffs. Kuhlman is on Dubuque’s affiliate list so it is unclear when or if he’d join the Fighting Saints.
-Jay Dickman, forward, St. Paul Johnson: Dickman had 65 points in the regular season and scored 44 goals, the most in Class 2A. He signed with the Force during the USHL Trade Deadline and it appears he will join the Force this weekend after St. Paul Johnson was eliminated from the state tournament on Wednesday.
-Dominic Toninato, forward, Duluth East (Minnesota-Duluth): Toninato is also having a solid season. He and the Greyhounds are the heavy favorite to win state this season after finishing second last year. Toninato had 61 points in the regular season and plays in the Section 7AA finals later this week. He will join the Force next season.
-Zach Doerring, forward, Blake: Doerring was among the Top 10 in the state in assists and in the Top 5 in Class A. Doerring had 54 points (13 goals, 41 assists) in 27 games as of Tuesday night. Like Toninato, he will join the Force next season.
Green Bay Gamblers:
-Jordan Gross, defenseman, Maple Grove (Notre Dame): Gross actually played in a few games with the Gamblers to prepare for the high school season. It apparently paid off with Gross and Maple Grove enjoying a 21-2-2 season. Gross, a junior, is having a solid season with 41 points (16 goals, 25 assists) and is considered to be one of the state’s best defensemen. He’ll enter Notre Dame in 2013 but it is unknown if he’ll spend next season in the USHL or in Minnesota.
-T.J. Moore, forward, Benilde-St. Margaret’s: Moore is just part of a scoring juggernaut at BS-M, which never stops scoring. He was the team’s second-leading scorer in the regular season with 59 points (27 goals, 32 assists) and has continued his dominance in the section playoffs. Moore has five points in two games and in his last game scored four points over Holy Family. Moore is a junior so there’s a chance he could be back in high school next year. One thing is for sure, he’ll certainly be playing at the state tournament following his team’s section final win over Minnetonka.
-Trevor Olson, forward, Duluth East: Olson had a bit of a shortened season due to injury but has certainly made up for it in the playoffs. He leads East with five points this post season. He scored 28 points (9 points, 19 assists) in 16 regular season games. Olson got hot at the end of the year scoring in his last six games grabbing 15 points. Olson is a senior and considering he doesn’t have a college commitment at the moment, he could be in Green Bay next season.
-Ian Janco, defenseman, Bloomington Jefferson: Janco was one of the bright spots on a Jefferson team kept in the dark. He had 21 points (2 goals, 19 assists) in 27 games before the team was eliminated by Edina in the second round. Janco is not on the Ice’s active roster and will likely join the team next season.
-Adam Johnson, forward, Hibbing/Chisholm (Minnesota-Duluth): If its not for Kyle Rau (now at Minnesota), this guy was probably the star of last season’s tournament. He is showing it wasn’t just a one-year thing. Johnson, a junior, scored 58 points (28 goals, 30 assists) in 22 regular season games. The playoffs have been no different. He has scored six points (4 goals, 2 assists) in two games to lead his team back to the section finals. Johnson has next year and nobody knows if he’ll stay in school or go to one of the league’s more prolific scoring teams.
-Vinni Lettieri, forward, Minnetonka (Minnesota): Lettieri got some games in with the Stars earlier in the year to get ready for the high school season. He was added to the Stars’ active roster to help with the team’s playoff run. Minnetonka was eliminated Wednesday night meaning he’ll probably be with the team this week. Lettieri led the Skippers with 58 points (22 goals, 36 assists) in the regular season.
-Max Coatta, forward, Minnetonka: Coatta and Lettieri are linemates and are pretty good fans. They’ve teamed up to be one of the more dominant one-two combos in Minnesota this season. Coatta was third on the team this season with 48 points (23 goals, 25 assists) during the regular season. He and Lettieri, both juniors, could come to Lincoln next season or stay in Minnetonka.
-Parker Reno, defenseman, Edina: Reno and the Fighting Adam Banks have established themselves as one of the stronger teams in the state by going 20-5 in the regular season after losing quite a bit of talent to graduation or Major Junior. Reno has scored 14 points (2 goals, 12 assists) in 27 games this season. He had a three-point game (all assists) in a second round game against Bloomington Jefferson. Reno is a junior so he could opt to stay another year or join what’s could be a nice contingent of Minnesotans in Lincoln next year.
-Michael Brodzinski, defenseman, Blaine (Minnesota): Brodzinski was actually in Des Moines’ system but was traded days before the USHL Trade Deadline to Muskegon. Brodzinski is a junior and said a few weeks ago he was undecided about his future plans for next season. That said, Brodzinski has led a young but speedy Blaine this season scoring 33 points (13 goals, 20 assists) in the regular season. He’s added three more points in the playoffs and on Friday faces Maple Grove and Jordan Gross for the section title game.
-Grant Besse, forward, Benilde-St. Margaret’s (Wisconsin): Besse was part of the two-horse race that was the Class 2A scoring title this season. He scored 75 points (40 goals, 35 assists) in the regular season and has poured it on in the playoffs. Besse has has six points but all of them came in one game. Besse and Co. will be at the state tournament after knocking off Minnetonka on Wednesday.
-Jake Randolph, forward, Duluth East (Nebraska-Omaha): Omaha already added Grand Rapids’ defenseman Jake Bischoff (Minnesota) after his team suffered an upset early in the playoffs. Randolph will be a Maverick in 2013 and will come to Omaha next season off of what he hopes is a state title season. Randolph raised his profile last season leading a junior-laden East to a second-place finish. This year, he’s led the heavy favorites by scoring 66 points (32 goals, 34 assists) in 25 regular season games. Randolph has added four points in the playoffs. When combined with Olson and Toninato, Randolph is part of one of the more dominant lines in Minnesota.
Sioux City Musketeers:
-Avery Peterson, forward, Grand Rapids: Peterson had the distinction of being a sophomore to lead his team in scoring this season. Peterson scored 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) in 26 games. He had two assists in Grand Rapids’ opening game upset against Forest Lake, which was a 3-2 loss. Even as a sophomore he has plenty of options to consider. He could stay in Grand Rapids or he could make the jump to the USHL.
-Blake Heinrich, defenseman, Hill-Murray: Heinrich, a junior, had a solid season which allowed plenty of Hill-Murray players to put points on the board. He was responsible for quite a bit of it. Heinrich had 31 points (8 goals, 25 assists) in 25 regular season games. He is also a junior, one of the many Hill-Murray has, so he could be back next season if he doesn’t go to the USHL. The Pioneers only have five seniors so don’t be surprised if the possibility of winning state next year doesn’t lure him back.
-Jake Guentzel, forward, Hill-Murray: Yep. Sioux City has him too. Guentzel simply terrorized defenses this seasons scoring 67 points (21 goals, 46 assists) in 25 regular season games. He picked up two assists in the playoffs and looks to lead the Pioneers to the state tournament. Like Heinrich, he’s a junior and has quite a few options when it comes to his future. Should he stay, it makes Hill-Murray pretty likeable for next year’s state title.
-Jared Thomas, forward, Hermantown (Minnesota-Duluth): OK. So you want to talk about impressive. Here’s what Thomas has done this year. He’s led Hermantown to a 27-0 record including the postseason. He’s given people in the Duluth area the reason to believe that between his team and East, they’ll be the newest residents of Titletown, Minn. where the populations is ballers. Oh and he scored 76 points (26 goals, 50 assists) this season including the playoffs. Thomas is a senior so he’ll be in the USHL next season. Are you not entertained? The rest of Minnesota, however, certainly is.
-Blake Cates, goaltender, Stillwater: The Musketeers’ tour de Minnesota stars ends with Cates. Cates has been one of these goaltenders who has pretty much had to be more-than-solid for his team to have a chance at winning. Cates went 11-9-1 in the regular season with a 2.72 GAA. The Fighting Neal Goff’s face Hill-Murray and two of his future teammates on Wednesday.
Sioux Falls Stampede
-Sam Rothstein, forward, Minnetonka: “Ace” signed with the Stampede at the USHL Trade Deadline and will join the team probably later in the week after Wednesday’s section final loss. To a degree, he has been a little bit of the lost guy at Minnetonka given what Coatta and Lettieri have accomplished this season. Rothstein is actually Minnetonka’s second-leading scorer this season and finds a way to cause problems. He has 55 points (25 goals, 30 assists) in 27 games including the playoffs. He’ll spend next season in the USHL and afterwards probably play college hockey where he will major in food and beverage.
-Conner Valesano, forward, Duluth East: The 5-9 Valesano hasn’t received much attention this year with the circus that is Duluth East’s dominant season. But he has been putting some decent numbers. The junior has 35 points (12 goals, 23 assists) in 27 games this season including the playoffs. It’ll be interesting to see if he stays at East another year or goes to the Stampede.
-Grant Opperman, forward, Breck (Dartmouth): Opperman has been one of Class A’s most dynamic players this season. He has scored 72 points (30 goals, 42 assists) in 27 games this season which also includes the playoffs. Opperman actually signed with the Storm at the trade deadline and will join the team once his high school season ends. Opperman, a senior, will go to Dartmouth in 2013 meaning he should spend next year with the Storm.
-Dan Labosky, forward, Benilde-St. Margaret’s (Colorado College): The Big Labosky is another one of these forwards at BS-M, who has had a nice year. The 5-7, 150-pound Labosky has 60 points (15 goals, 45 assists) in 27 games this year. He’s a junior which means he could stick around for another year or head to Nebraska and help what could be one of the more talented teams in the league next season.
-Will Merchant, forward, Eagan (Maine): Merchant is another player Eagan has to make the them a favorite for this time of the year. Merchant was third in the regular season in scoring for Eagan. Playoffs included, he has 48 points in 27 games. Merchant is a senior and has said he will be at Maine next season.
-Eli May, defenseman, Eagan (Minnesota State-Mankato): May was the Wildcats sixth-leading scorer this season. He has three points in this postseason giving him 30 points in 27 games this season. Like Merchant, he is also a senior and will send next season in Tri-City.
Waterloo Black Hawks:
-Tyler Sheehy, forward, Burnsville: Let’s get this out of the way. Homeboy is only a sophomore and he was one of the Blaze’s high-end scorers. He has 47 points in 27 games this year including the postseason. Given his age, he certianly has options but where he goes for next season remains to be seen.
-Justin Kloos, forward, Lakeville South (Minnesota): Yes. Kloos is the last player on this list but is one of the players everyone in Minnesota has paid attention to this year. Kloos scored a whopping 81 points in the regular season and then opened the playoffs with a 10-point performance. Throw in the “meager” four-point night he had in the next round and he’s now at 95 points in 27 games this season. He played a few games with Waterloo this season but it appears it could be the last time he played for the team. Chris Heisenberg’s spreadsheet has Kloos going to Minnesota next season. Kloos is also not on Waterloo’s active roster for the postseason.