It is only September and I am ready to talk high school hockey. Last year was great; a regular season filled with upset and surprises, playoffs that were thrills right down to the wire, and a state title game that we saw two northern teams battle it. Can this top it? I think so! This year, I expect some big and historic team (like Edina and Duluth East) to get back to the promise land. But, who really knows it is Minnesota High School Hockey, anything can happen.
To kick off the high school hockey talk, I have my five teams to watch for the upcoming season. Yes, I would consider them my top-5 too but right now it is way too hard to rank them 1-5.
Hope you enjoy and this just the high school hockey fix you need in early September.
Last year: 20-7-1 Lost in the Section Finals to Wayzata. Leading returner – Sam Walker 24 goals and 28 assists.
Players to Watch: Sam Walker (SR) – Drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Sam Walker is a force on the ice. 52 points in 28 games Walker has great intangibles to impact the game. Walker is likely to be the Mr. Hockey talk, come season end.
Demetrios Koumontzis (SR) – Koumontzis left after playing for Edina’s Bantam AA team in 2014-15 and has played the last few seasons in the T1EHL for the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes. His return is huge for Edina and just added to the talent they have in their lineup.
Jett Jungles (JR) – Of the many talented 01s birth years in the state of Minnesota Jungles is up there with the best. As a sophomore last season he tallied 43 points in 28 games. I expect Jungles to have an even bigger year for Hornets this season.
Commitments: Jake Boltmann (UMN), Ben Brinkman (UMN), Demetrios Koumontzis (ASU), Sam Walker (UMN)
Duluth East Greyhounds
Last year: 18-9-1 Lost in the Section Finals to Grand Rapids. Leading returner – Ian Mageau 9 goals and 28 assists.
Players to watch: Garrett Worth (SR) – A dynamic goal scorer, Garrett Worth and the Greyhounds might have the best first line in the state this season. Worth had 34 points, including 21 goals last year.
Ryder Donovan (JR) – Ryder Donovan is a 6’3” 180lbs centerman that controls the middle of the ice. He had 33 points last year and was a member of Team USA U18 this summer at the Hlinka Memorial tournament.
Luke LaMaster (SR) – Luke LaMaster is a defenseman that will make his presences felt at both ends of this ice. He had 17 points last season and he is 6’ 1” and a strong kid, he will have a huge role controlling the blue-line for Duluth East this season.
Commitments: Ryder Donovan (UND)
Last year: 24-3-3 Lost in the State Title game to Grand Rapids. Leading returner – Carter Randklev 33 goals and 27 assists.
Players to watch: Carter Randklev (SR) – Last year we knew Carter Randklev was a good player but watching him at the state tournament, he was extremely impressive. He is shifty, has quick hands and skates past most defensemen with his speed. Even though he’s a smaller kid, he knows how to get to the net. Randklev had 60 points last year, I think he can tally even more this year.
Kyler Kleven (JR) – Kyler Kleven was an impressive sophomore last year for the Spuds. He had 24 points including 15 assists. If the Spuds want to get back to the State Title game it’ll be young kids of Moorhead like Kleven to have an impact.
Ethan Frisch (JR) – Ethan Frisch has the great ability to make a strong first pass out of the d-zone. He is also not afraid to just up into the offensive rush either. With a strong work ethic, the smooth skating Frisch is only going to get better. He had 20 points in 31 games for the Spuds last year and I expect him to have even more ice time this season for the Spuds.
Commitments: Carter Randklev (ASU) and Ethan Frisch (UND)
Holy Family Fire
Last year: 22-5-1 Lost to Eden Prairie (And the great Casey Mittelstadt) in the Section Finals. Leading returner – Ben Almquist 22 goals and 35 assists.
Players to Watch: Ben Almquist (SR) – Ben Almquist is crafty centerman with good hands that loves to move the puck. He had 57 points last season and I look for him to increase that number this year.
James Marooney (SR) – James Marooney will hold down the blue line this year for the Fire. Last season, Marooney had 29 points in 28 games for Holy Family. He will also wear the “C” for Holy Family.
Garrett Pinoniemi (SO) – Garrett Pinoniemi transfer to Holy Family from Delano this summer. This will be a huge pick up for the Fire. As a freshman forward, he stuck out and had a large impact for Delano. He had 22 points and is a kid with tremendous speed and has a high hockey IQ.
Commitments: Ben Almquist (WISCO), James Marooney (OSU), Garret Pinonemi (SCSU), and Brady Ziemer Sr. (SCSU)
St. Thomas Academy Cadets
Last year: 22-5-1 Lost in the quarterfinals at State but won the Consolation Championship. Leading returner – Ray Christy 17 goals and 30 assists.
Players to Watch: Christy Brothers – Ray and Rob Christy combined for 87 points last season for STA. They are players that can take over a game at any point. This summer, younger brother Rob, was the 2nd round pick of the Des Moines Bucs in the USHL Futures Draft. They both have a bright future in front of them.
Payton Matsui (SR) – Payton Matsui is an extreme offensively gifted player. He had 35 points in 31 games for STA last year. Look for Matsui to be a spark on the Cadets’ power play this season (he had 11 PP points last year).
Atticus Kelly (SR) – One of the goaltenders in the state, Atticus Kelly will likely control the faith of the Cadets season. Kelly plays well they will be an extremely hard team to beat this season. Kelly went 11-2-1 last year with a 1.29 GAA and a .927%.
Commitments: N/A (But this will soon change)