Typically, Elite League teams are assembled based on geographical regions. The Great Plains team consists mostly of North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota players, Team Wisconsin, as its name indicates, is an all-Wisconsin team and so on.
There can, however, be some spillover from the four Twin Cities area teams (Team Southeast, Team Southwest, Team Northeast, Team Northwest), and this season two players from the metro area have landed on Team North.
Both Ben Walker, a junior forward from Edina, and Adam Barlow, a senior defenseman from South St. Paul (pictured above), turned in strong performances for Team North in their Elite League debuts against Team Wisconsin.
The 5-foot-10½, 192-pound Barlow in particular stood out, as he notched a goal and an assist while skating with Duluth Marshall junior Jacob Bushey (who also had a goal and an assist). Barlow flashed some serious skating and stickhandling skills while holding the puck for what seemed like an eternity during a third-period breakout.
“I was actually originally on Team Southeast, but they had too many walk-ons so they separated some of the guys,” said Barlow, who this summer received an invitation to join the league and wasn’t required to try out. “So they bumped me up to Team North. I’m happy with it.”
Barlow had 16 goals and 12 assists in 26 games for the Packers last season and figures to be one of the state’s best offensive defensemen this winter during the high school season.
“It’s a lot faster than regular high school hockey,” Barlow said about his introduction to the Elite League. “You have to think a lot quicker, but it makes the game a lot more fun.”
1. Adam Barlow, Team North
The ultra-mobile senior defenseman from South St. Paul put on a skating and puckhandling exhibition during a 60-second stretch in the third period when he outmaneuvered several Team Wisconsin forwards while breaking the puck out of the zone. He finished with a goal and an assist.
2. Jacob Bushey, Team North
The junior defenseman from Duluth Marshall with a booming shot scored when his shot from the point deflected off a Team Wisconsin player and zipped into the upper right corner of the net. He added an assist when he unloaded another big shot from the point that was stopped, but led to an easy tap-in goal for Dom Toninato of Duluth East.
3. Todd Koritzinsky, Team Wisconsin
The senior from Middleton scored Wisconsin’s lone goal on a shorthanded breakaway and used his lightning speed to create several more quality scoring chances.
Patrick Moore-Garrett Hendrickson-Josh Archibald
Comment: Hendrickson the big (6-foot-1, 175 pounds) center from Virginia who has committed to St. Cloud State figures to be an Elite League force, but like many of Team North’s forwards had a relatively quiet night playing with Grand Rapids’ Patrick Moore and Brainerd’s Josh Archibald.
Garrett Skrbich-Nick DeCenzo-Zac Schendel
Comment: Schendel perhaps the least know of the five Duluth East players on the Team North roster, had the best performance by finishing with a goal and an assist while playing with Hibbing’s DeCenzo and Hermantown’s Skrbich. This unit was on the ice for two of Team North’s four goals.
Jake Randolph-Dom Toninato-Ben Walker
Comment: This all-junior unit has the potential to put up big points, with Duluth East’s Randolph and Toninato displaying their great chemistry, and Edina’s Walker adding his eye-blurring speed.
Jack McFarlane-Judd Peterson-Matt Pohlkamp
Comment: There were no points for this trio, but this is a group that sees the ice well. McFarlane, from Cloquet and Peterson, from Duluth Marshall, figure to rank among northern Minnesota’s top scorers during the high school season. Pohlkamp is a big reason why Brainerd has a chance to knock of heavy hitters Roseau and Moorhead in Section 8AA.
At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Wes Judnick (pictured at right) is as much mountain as he is defenseman.
In a league filled with big, strong players, the Team North senior from Virginia stands out as a big, strong player. His surprising mobility given his size allows him to play a game that appears not only well-suited for the Elite League but also looks college-ready.
Judnick said his high school coach, Keith Hendrickson, has received a few inquiries from college coaches, but Judnick added he hasn’t had any direct contact with any schools. Judnick is hoping that will change during the next two months.
“This is a great opportunity, playing in front of scouts every weekend for five or six weekends,” he said.
Ben Walker, the junior from Edina with the flaming red hair (pictured at right), also had some fire under his feet against Team Wisconsin.
Walker rocketed around the rink at a blistering pace all game, and his nonstop motor made him appear all that much faster.
It might be worth it to drop by a Hornets practice during the high school season just to watch Walker and teammate Michael Sit, another dragster on ice, just to try and gauge who might be faster.
Feel the need for more speed? Look no further than Team Wisconsin's Todd Koritzinsky of Middleton. He scored on a shorthanded breakaway and had at least two other partial breakaway attempts.
Defenseman Jacob Bushey of Duluth Marshall scored the game-winner on a second period power play and added an assist to lead Team North past Team Wisconsin on Saturday, Sept. 11, at New Hope Ice Arena in New Hope in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League opener for both teams.
Bushey’s goal came less than two minutes after Team Wisconsin’s Todd Koritzinsky had tied the score at 1-1 with a shorthanded goal.
Team North pulled away in the third period with power-play goals from Duluth East’s Dom Toninato and South St. Paul’s Adam Barlow.
Barlow, a defenseman, had a goal and an assist as did Duluth East forward Zac Schendel.
Alex Lyon of Lake of the Woods played the first period and half of the second and stopped 12 of 13 shots to earn the win. Grand Rapids’ Dom DeGuiseppi stopped all 10 shots he faced.
Team Wisconsin’s Saxton Soley of Eau Claire Memorial stoped 27 of 31 shots.