Although the Minnesota High School seemed like it just ended, the hype of high school hockey never stops in Minnesota. I decided to break down the players and give you ten players to watch in each grade. After breaking down the seniors, which you can read about here, and the juniors, which you can read about here, it is time to talk about the young sophomores. As crazy as it sounds, it is the class of 2020. In no particular order, here are ten sophomores to watch in the upcoming high school season:
Garrett Pinoniemi – Forward – Delano (St. Cloud State)
Delano broke through making it to the state tournament last season and although they had some star seniors on their team, freshman forward Garrett Pinoniemi stuck out and had a large impact. He had 22 points for the Tigers and is a kid with tremendous speed and has a high hockey IQ. The future St. Cloud Huskie is on his way to having a solid hockey career. Hopefully, he is adding weight to that slender 140 lbs. frame this summer.
Jake Boltmann – Defenseman – Edina (Minnesota)
People rave about Jake Boltmann because he has the ability to push the puck up ice in the offensive zone using his speed. Last year he had 14 points including 11 assists for Edina’s varsity team. Already committed to the University of Minnesota, Boltmann has good size and will be a force on the Hornets blue line for the next couple of years.
Bobby Brink – Forward – Minnetonka (Denver)
Bobby Brink is one of two freshmen to play on Minnetonka’s varsity team last season. The other was Clay Hanus, who recently signed with the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL and will not be returning to Minnetonka. Brink is an exciting forward to watch who become a leader on the power play last year for the Skippers. He had 30 points as a freshman and the kid has so much talent, I would be surprised if he reaches the 50-point mark this season.
Jake Braccini – Forward – Buffalo
In 45 games at the Bantam level, Jake Braccini had an incredible 140 points. Braccini is a great skater who is always pressuring the puck. As you can see by his stats, he is always a threat to score and knows the areas of the ice to get to. Braccini was selected in the first round of the USHL Phase 1 Draft by the Bloomington Thunder, which seems to be his team of the future but this season he will jump on Buffalo’s high school team and have an immediate impact for the Bison.
Matt Gleason – Forward – Cretin-Derham Hall
Leading all high school freshman and his team, Matt Gleason had 43 points is 27 games for Cretin-Derham Hall last season. Gleason has a great motor and seems to never get tired out there on the ice. With his good hands and shiftiness, he finds scoring areas where he impacts the game with his great scoring touch.
Shane LaVelle – Forward – Chaska
Yesterday I mentioned, Mike Koster holding down the back for the Chaska, well today I’m going to tell about Shane LaVelle, who as a freshman, was Chaska’s best forward last season. Lavelle is a powerful kid that scored 17 goals for CDH last year. He is impressive with the puck and when he and Koster are on the ice together, Chaska is a very exciting hockey team to watch. LaVelle is uncommitted for now but I sense he will be getting some offers soon if he hasn’t already.
Blake Biondi – Forward – Hermantown
Many say that Blake Biondi could have played high school last year but no one moves up early in Hermantown. The kid is dominant at the Bantam level and should be a top-6 forward for Hermantown next season. I love his game and his ability to control the puck using his size to his advantage. Some say Hermantown is a bit down next year but if they do get back to the state tournament, Biondi will have a big say in doing so.
Ryan Mulrenin – Forward – Wayzata
Last year Ryan Mulrenin was just getting his feet wet at the high school level for Wayzata. A solid 11 points in 23 games for the Trojans. Mulrenin will have a much bigger role this season and turn a lot of heads. He is a good skater with a nice shot.
Carsen Richels – Forward – Blaine
Carsen Richels is another Bantam that I am excited to see what he can do at the next level. Richels is a fine skater with good hand and is good at finding the scoring areas on the ice. Blaine will look for Richels to play a big role right away for them and I could even see him playing on a line with Bryce Brodzinski at some point this season. They could be a deadly combination together for the Bengals.
Ethan Haider – Goalie – Maple Grove
Ethan Haider led Maple Grove to state as a freshman net-minder with a 3-0 record, 1.33 goals against average, and .950 save percentage in the section playoffs last year. Haider has great size, already 6’ and is tremendously athletic for a young goalie. Haider can steal games and will need to have another great season for the Crimson to repeat as 5AA champions.
Zach Michealis – Elk River
Austen Humphrey – Elk River
Mitch Kohner – Lakeville North
Mack Motzko – St. Cloud Cathedral
Ben Troumbly – Greenway (St. Cloud State)