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By Loren Nelson, Editor and Brian Stensaas, Star Tribune, 04/08/11, 8:30AM CDT

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Lakeville South star Justin Kloos commits to Gophers, leaning toward return to Cougars


Lakeville South's Justin Kloos, left, has committed to play for the University of Minnesota. Photo by Adam Crane


Justin Kloos

The Gophers’ men’s hockey team received another standout verbal commitment Wednesday night when Lakeville South’s Justin Kloos made his decision to join coach Don Lucia’s team.

Kloos made his official visit to campus on Monday and received a scholarship offer on the spot. After two nights to sleep on it, Kloos decided it was his dream opportunity.

“I’ve got a lot of work to do before I get out onto that rink, but this is a little bit of a reward for some hard work,” Kloos said.

Minnesota was his third visit, after making unofficial stops at Bemidji State and St. Cloud State.

“I don’t think any other schools could have said anything to make me not want to go," Kloos said.

A 5-9, 170-pound forward, Kloos scored 90 points for the Cougars this season as a junior and in eight games with Waterloo (USHL) has racked up two goals and two assists. He also was a top scorer in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League last year, scoring 11 goals and adding 20 assists in 23 games.

He has yet to make up his mind whether he will stay in junior hockey or return to Lakeville South for his senior season, but he is leaning toward the latter.

“I always envisioned myself playing my senior year with all my friends,” he said.

Last season Lakeville South went 16-9-2 and earned the top seed in the Section 1AA playoffs. The Cougars reached the title game, where they lost to intracity rival Lakeville North 2-1 in triple overtime. Lakeville South has been knocked off by the Panthers in the section title game each of the past two years.

“Justin was blaming himself for the loss, like it was his fault,” Lakeville South coach Kurt Weber said. “That’s the type of kid he is.”

Kloos, linemate Alex Harvey and defensemen Joe Freemark and Charlie Heller are the Cougars’ co-captains for next season. All four have been varsity regulars since they were freshmen.

Harvey and Kloos have been linemates each of the past two seasons. They were joined by sophomore John Wiitala, the son of former University of Wisconsin star Marty Wiitala, on a forward line last season. The trio combined for 188 points.

If Kloos returns to play for the Cougars next season, he would rank among the preseason favorites to win the annual Mr. Hockey award.

“I told him to just think about how many people even have a shot at Mr. Hockey,” Weber said. “If you get that, it’s something that you will have forever. People will remember you forever.”

Kloos’ decision is expected this summer.

“Hopefully we can be part of something special there and make some noise,” Kloos said.

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2010-11 Minnesota High School Division I Recruits

Name High School Year Pos. College Verbal Commit
Josh Archibald Brainerd Senior F Nebraska-Omaha Yes
Tim Bonner Osseo Senior F Yale Yes
Jonny Brodzinski Blaine Senior F St. Cloud State Yes
Ryan Bullock Blake Senior D Dartmouth Yes
Tony Cameranesi Wayzata Senior F Minnesota-Duluth Yes
Patrick Daly Benilde-St. Margaret's Senior D Wisconsin Yes
Max Everson Edina Senior D Harvard Yes
Steven Fogarty Edina Senior F Notre Dame Yes
Tyler Heinonen Delano Senior F Michigan Tech Yes
Garrett Hendrickson Virginia Senior F St. Cloud State Yes
Adam Johnson Hibbing Sophomore F Minnesota-Duluth Yes
Bob Kinne Cretin-Derham Hall Senior F Bemidji State Yes
Joseph LaBate Holy Angels Senior F Wisconsin Yes
Ross Luedtke Orono Senior F Air Force Academy Yes
Alex Lyon Lake of the Woods Senior G Yale Yes
Justin Kloos Lakeville South Junior F Minnesota Yes
A.J. Michaelson Apple Valley Junior F Minnesota Yes
Bill Norman Rochester Mayo Senior D Maine Yes
Kyle Rau Eden Prairie Senior F Minnesota Yes
Brady Riesgraf Holy Family Catholic Senior D Bemidji State Yes
Zach Schroeder St. Thomas Academy Senior F RPI Yes
Kevin Schulze Hill-Murray Senior D Wisconsin Yes
Nick Seeler Eden Prairie Senior D Nebraska-Omaha Yes
Michael Sit Edina Senior F Boston College Yes
Garrett Skrbich Hermantown Senior F Princeton Yes
Eddie Wittchow Burnsville Senior D Wisconsin Yes