Lakeville South senior Justin Kloos of Team Southeast leads the Elite League in scoring with 34 points. Photo by Helen Nelson
Justin Kloos was cradling the puck behind the goal line.
Two strides later he was gliding into a sliver of an opening in the slot.
With a quick flick of the wrists, the puck was rocketing under the crossbar.
Scoring plays develop quickly when Team Southeast’s Kloos is on the ice. Blink an eye, and the Lakeville South senior very well might have deposited another puck in the net. Or, just as likely, delivered a pinpoint pass to set up a goal.
The first of Kloos’ two goals came just 42 seconds into Team Southeast’s eventual 5-5 tie with Team Southwest on Sunday, Oct. 9, at New Hope Ice Arena. He scored again with 22 seconds left in the second, wrapping the puck around the left post just before the net was knocked out of place.
Justin Kloos scored two goals and added an assist in Team Southeast's 4-4 tie with Team Southwest. Photo by Helen Nelson
Generally, time and space is limited in the frenetically paced Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League. The laws of physics, and hockey, seem to change when Kloos is operating with the puck. Speed and elusiveness are hallmarks of the 5-foot-8, 177-pound senior’s game, yet the University of Minnesota recruit also has the uncanny ability to dial the game into slow motion when he is in scoring position.
Kloos’ three-point afternoon against Team Southwest gives him 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) in 15 games. Team Southeast’s Jake Guentzel of Hill-Murray, Kloos’ linemate for much of the fall, ranks second in the league with 28 points.
“We play pretty well together, we see each other a lot,” Kloos said about being paired with the 5-8½, 150-pound Guentzel. “It has been fun. We’re both small, creative forwards. Create offense, that’s kind of our mentality.”
Kloos and Guentzel were linemates for parts of three seasons as grade-schoolers playing for the Triple A Icemen.
“I think teams try to play a little more physical on us, because we’re kind of the crafty offensive forwards,” said Kloos, who scored 41 goals and added 49 assists last season in 27 games and is the state’s top returning scorer heading into the 2011-12 season. “Other than that, we have a bunch of good players on our team, so I don’t think they are locking on to our line.”
Team Southeast (10-2-3) leads the Elite League standings with 24 points, two ahead of Team Northeast (9-3-3).
Last season Team Southeast went 12-7-2 and finished one point behind Team North in the regular season standings.
“I just wanted my team to win,” Kloos said about his Elite League goals entering the season. “If our team has a better record that it did last year, then overall it is a success.”
With six games remaining in the regular season, Kloos’ 34 points already tops the 33 registered by 2010 scoring champion Tony Cameranesi of Team Northwest.
Team Southeast’s Michael Zajac of Eagan and Team Southwest’s Daniel Labosky of Benilde-St. Margaret’s traded goals in a 14-second span in the third period as their Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League matchup ended in a 4-4 tie on Sunday, Oct. 9, at New Hope Ice Arena in New Hope.
Zajac deflected a point shot from defenseman Eli May, also of Eagan, past Team Southwest goaltender Erikur Arnason of Greenway to put league-leading Team Southeast (10-2-3) ahead 4-3 with 11 minutes, 13 seconds left in the final period.
Labosky roared back to tie the score just seconds later as he converted a breakaway chance against Team Southeast goaltender Michael Bitzer of Moorhead.
Team Southeast outshot Team Southwest 15-4 in the final period and had the better of the scoring chances in the final minutes but was unable to solve the acrobatic Arnason.
Minnetonka’s Sam Rothstein and Vinni Lettieri and Edina’s Parker Reno also scored for Team Southwest (6-6-3).
League scoring leader Justin Kloos of Lakeville South scored twice, and Blake Winiecki of Lakeville North also notched a goal for Team Southeast. Lettieri and Kloos each had a game-high three points.
Arnason made 43 saves and Bitzer finished with 21.
Team Southwest's Daniel Labosky of Benilde-St. Margaret's, left, scored a breakaway goal in the third period against Team Southeast. Photo by Helen Nelson
1. Justin Kloos, Team Southeast
A Lakeville South senior who has committed to play at the University of Minnesota, Kloos needed just 42 seconds to open the scoring when he skated out of the corner with the puck, found an opening in front and whipped a shut into the net just inside the crossbar. He finished with two goals and an assist to push his league-leading totals to 16 goals and 34 points.
2. Vinni Lettieri, Team Southwest
Lettier, a junior forward from Minnetonka, scored a second-period goal on a one-timer from the high slot and helped set up Daniel Labosky’s breakaway goal in the third period. Lettieri finished with three points and has a team-best 21 this season.
3. Daniel Labosky, Team Southwest
A 5-foot-7, 145-pound junior from Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Labosky put his exceptional speed and quickness to good use on a third-period breakaway goal that completed the scoring. Labosky’s 19 points ties him for third on the team in scoring.