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Dream destination not far from home

10/04/2010, 2:07pm CDT
By Loren Nelson, Editor

Q and A with Apple Valley's state tournament-hungry A.J. Michaelson

He’s been drafted by teams in two junior leagues, visited four college campuses (and counting) and declined an invitation to play in the U.S. National Developmental Team Program.

Talk about a popular guy.

When A.J. Michaelson showed up for class at Apple Valley High School this fall the junior winger was taking what he hopes will be the first steps toward his preferred destination.

Michaelson described playing in the state Class AA tournament last season as a “dream come true.” He’s hopeful an another spring trek to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul is the payoff for turning down all those offers to play elsewhere.

We caught up with Michaelson after a recent Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League game and asked the state’s No. 1-ranked sophomore from last season about his golf game, on-ice security blanket and pregame superstitions.

A.J. Michaelson One on One

Question: It looks like you and (Apple Valley teammate Hudson Fasching) were on different lines, at least for your game against Team North. Hudson is big guy (6-foot-1 1/2, 189 pounds). Do miss not having your security blanket out on the ice with you?
Answer: I do. He is a big presence in the offensive zone. He can get me the puck wherever on the ice. We work well together. I don’t know, we just seem to click when we are on the same line. Yeah, I missed him.

Q: There were a lot of penalties called in your (Sept. 25) against Team North. Is there a bit of a rivalry brewing between the Northern guys and the Southeast guys?
A: I think so. We can’t quite get a win on them. They have good goaltending and our power play hasn’t be clicking. We need to get that going. I think if we can get that going we’ll have a better chance.

Q: Expectations are going to be pretty high for Apple Valley during the high school season. Is that a good thing?
A: I think so. There was a big buzz going around the school after hockey season.

Q: You turned down an opportunity to be a part of the national development program in Ann Arbor. How much of a factor in that decision was the opportunity to play in another state tournament?
A: That was a huge factor. I loved it there (at the state tournament). It was a dream come true. I don’t know, hopefully we can just get back.

Q: When you’re not playing hockey, what’s your favorite activity?
A: I play lots of golf in the summer, and I’m on the (Apple Valley) golf team.

Q: What is your handicap?
A: Right around 3 or 4.
 
Q: Best player you’ve ever been on the ice with?
A: I would have to say probably (Blaine’s) Nick Bjugstad or (Eden Prairie’s) Nick Leddy. They are both monsters. And they are fast.

Q: What do you like best about playing in the Elite League?
A: Every team is competitive. You never know if you are going to win or lose before every time you touch the ice.

Q: Do you have any pre-game rituals?
A: I don’t, really. I tape my stick and warm up.

Q: No? Not even left skate first, then right skate?
A: Yeah, I do get my left stuff on before my right stuff.

Photo Gallery

A.J. Michaelson File

School: Apple Valley
Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League Team: Southeast
Year: Junior
Height: 6-foot
Weight: 182 pounds
Position: Wing
Credentials: Michaelson ranked No. 1 on the Hockey Hub's list of the state's top sophomores after scoring 19 goals and adding 16 assists last season despite missing seven games with a groin injury. He turned down an offer to join the USA Hockey's National Development Team Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., but did play for the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the Under-17 Five Nations Tournament in Switzerland. Through 12 Elite League games, Michaelson had five goals and four assists.
College Committment: None. Michaelson has visited the University of Minnesota, the University of North Dakota, the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Wisconsin and says he's narrowed his choices to Minnesota and North Dakota. He does have a final recruiting trip planned for Bemidji State in mid October.

Rapid Fire with A.J. Michaelson

Can’t miss TV show? SportsCenter

Favorite home-cooked meal? Lasagna

Favorite non-fast food restaurant? Chipotle? Does that count?

The one band you would love to see in concert? Probably KISS

Twins or Vikings? Twins

Favorite subject in school? History

Last book you read? I think it was "Sidney Crosby: Taking the Game by Storm"

Sport you have never played but would like to try? Tennis.

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