Mahtomedi freshman goaltender Ben Dardis. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
Why not start the list with its lone freshman? Dardis started the season playing at the Bantam AA level in Mahtomedi’s youth hockey system while awaiting high school varsity tryouts. A month later he not only made the Zephyrs’ top club but found himself in a two-man rotation with senior John Poirer until the final two section playoff games, both of which Dardis started. The 5-foot-6, 140-pound Dardis, who allowed two goals in two section games and has a sparkling .930 save percentage, now climbs onto the biggest stage as the Zephyrs’ tourney starter.
To say McFadden plays like a linebacker on ice wouldn’t be hyperbole, or inaccurate, considering he is a standout football player for the Cadets. While McFadden did play linebacker, he’s best known for his prowess as a running back who rolled up 1,819 yards and 36 touchdowns as St. Thomas Academy reached the Class 5A title game last fall, earning multiple all-metro honors for his handiwork. At 6-1 and 210 pounds, he’s a force on the ice, too, scoring 15 goals to go with 24 assists as one of a handful of top Cadets’ forwards with similar totals.
In his three-year career as a starter, Raymond has seen more rubber than Michelin quality control, setting school records for shots faced (1,900) and shutouts (14). He stopped 71 of 78 shots in the section playoffs.
Superb sophomore plays wing on the Green Wave’s productive second line and, with dynamic freshman defenseman Trey Ausmus, represents a bright future for a program that consistently churns out Division I players. The 6-foot Parker has 12 goals and 13 assists this season, with eight of his points coming on the power play.
Trend or mirage? Strong, who suffered through long scoreless stretches during the regular season, suddenly has become a goal-scoring phenom. The 6-3, 225-pound linebacker, who is headed to Minnesota State to play football, was New Ulm’s hero in the section final, scoring a hat trick in the second period as the Eagles rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat Hutchinson. How's this for a hot streak: Eleven of Strong’s 18 goals have come in his last four games.
The epitome of a power forward, the 6-foot, 185-pound Hillman is a beast on the power play, where he has scored eight of his 15 goals. He also provides second-line scoring punch for a Bengals team that gets the bulk of its offense from its top unit.
White Bear Lake senior Chase Bill. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine
Stepped up his goal-scoring production in the playoffs, scoring once in each of the Bears’ playoff wins over Roseville, Woodbury and Hill-Murray. The goal against Hill-Murray in the section final — played on Bill’s birthday — was his second shorthander of the playoffs and third of the season.
He … is … Iron Man. Turek has played all but 10 seconds of every game for the Vikings this season, giving way to backup Braden Weyenberg in a Senior Night blowout victory only because the North Branch student section demanded it. Turek has faced 772 shots, one of the highest totals in the state, and has stopped 713 of them for a more-than-respectable .924 save percentage. He stopped shots at a .956 percent clip in the section playoffs, when he allowed just four goals in three games.
Hauck left the residue of his silky mitts on many of the Bengals’ goals this season, starting scoring plays from the defensive zone or setting them up while on the power play. He has racked up 14 assists with the Bengals on the man-advantage this season as a key cog of a power-play group clicking at a 40-percent success rate.
Lakeville South sophomore defenseman Griffin Ludtke. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
The latest in a Cougars assembly line that pumps out high-caliber defensemen, Ludtke, diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2013, contributes at both ends of the rink. The former youth hockey standout had six assists in three playoff games, giving him 15 on the season to go with four goals.
Won the full-time starting job late in the regular season and appears to be in no mood to relinquish it. Foss, 5-11 and 175 pounds, was at his best stopping 28 of 30 shots in the section title game against Hill-Murray, all while looking as calm and unflappable as if he were shagging pucks in practice.
A varsity regular since he was a freshman, Hagstrom is in the midst of breakout season with 17 goals and 18 assists. “He has been a pleasant surprise on the scoring end of his game,” Mahtomedi coach Jeff Poeschel said about Hagstrom, who had 10 goals last season and is also reliable in the defensive end.
Outstanding as a Bantam AA last season, the 5-9, 155-pound Batchelder gets better by the day as a high-schooler. He’s scored five of his 10 goals in the playoffs, including two each against Chanhassen and Chaska, before adding the clincher into an empty net in the section final against Holy Family.
A 6-1, 185-pound middle linebacker on the school’s football team, Brown is a fierce competitor and weight room maniac who figures to play either football or hockey post-high school (he’s also a top baseball player). The son of Steve Brown, Delano’s coach for 19 seasons, Adam has the rink vision and puck savvy you’d expect from a coach’s kid.
North Branch sophomore forward Cody Croal. Photo by Earl J. Ebensteiner, SportsEngine
The skilled Croal might very well be the Vikings’ most physical player — all 5-9, 155 pounds of him. “He’s not very big,” North Branch coach Matt Cottingham said. “But he plays big.” Croal has team highs of 25 goals and 23 assists.
Keranen’s favorite colors just might be black and blue, as he blocks shots with alarming frequency. He had a stunning seven blocked shots in Delano’s 2-0 section title game win over Orono, giving him 88 on the season. The 5-11, 165-pound Keranen also has more than a little offensive ability -- he quarterbacks the Delano power play and has scored 10 of his 16 points with the man advantage.
The Bulldogs’ fastest player? Could be Wilmes. The most physical? Maybe Wilmes. Best leader? Wilmes, one of four captains, is in the discussion there, too. There’s no debating he’s Minnesota River’s most dangerous scorer, with team bests of 22 goals in the regular season and seven more in the playoffs.
The hulking Ahrenholz (6-4, 205 pounds) had a respectable eight goals entering the playoffs. Now he has 15. He opened the playoffs with a goal against Rochester Mayo, scored four in a section semifinal rout of Hastings, then added two more against arch-rival Lakeville North in their annual section championship showdown. A linebacker on the Cougars’ football team, he had 39 tackles and four sacks last season. He was also the team’s punter.
Joe who? The numbers -- 1.48 goals-against average, .933 save percentage -- are spectacular. The record is impeccable (22-2-2). His seven shutouts aren’t bad, either. So how come no one is talking about this kid?
Strong defense, steady offense, a playmaker and a goal scorer, when needed, Henkemeyer-Howe has as many positive traits as he does letters in his last name. The 6-foot, 200-pound H2 has 11 goals and 26 assists. He never went more than two games without registering at least a point.
St. Cloud Cathedral junior forward Blake Perbix. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine
The hockey blood runs strong in Perbix, first cousin to former Elk River stars Nick and Jack Perbix, both of whom were selected in the NHL Draft. Blake is a natural scorer with playmaking ability, too. He leads the Crusaders with 46 assists and 67 points.
Varsity newcomer plays like an old vet, combining speed, skill and playmaking ability in a freewheeling 5-10, 160-pound package. Special teams ace has scored five of his 15 goals on the power play.
A mainstay for the Hornets since what seems like forever, Boltmann is a throwback to the 1970s and ’80s, when Edina was winning titles with wave after wave of shutdown blueliners. Boltmann has four goals and 11 assists, but his game is more about being gritty than pretty.
The Green Wave takes pride in playing a “man’s game.” Sounds good in theory, but it takes tough, tenacious players such as Mack to execute it. It doesn’t hurt that Mack is as good in front of the net as he is in the corners; he leads East Grand Forks with 19 goals and 40 points.
Edina senior forward Brett Chorske. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
Six-foot-six and nicknamed the “Condor” because of his massive wingspan, Chorske has emerged as a playmaking force centering the Hornets’ second line. The son of former Minneapolis Southwest star Tom Chorske, Minnesota’s first Mr. Hockey and a Stanley Cup winner, the younger Chorske has 12 goals and 18 assists.
Three section playoff games, three shutouts. Playoff perfection, and then some, if you factor in Kruse’s two assists. “He is not the goalie who goes through the motions in practice and pours it on in games,” Delano coach Gerrit van Bergen said. “He is the one driving the ship. He holds guys accountable.” Worth noting: Kruse was active in the 2017 tourney for the Tigers — as their student manager.
The son of 1987 Mr. Hockey award winner and Greenway alum Kris Miller, also a defenseman. Christian, at 6-3, 210-pounds, is a sizable chip off the old block. He has two goals and 15 assists this season while anchoring the Raiders’ defense.
The lone Zephyr to play in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League last fall, Dulak possesses a nose for the net and wicked shot. That combo has been good for 15 goals this season. On a team that rolls three lines of seemingly equally skilled forwards, he’s registered team highs of 25 assists and 40 points.
Scored just one goal in the Spuds’ first nine games, then finished the regular season with at least one goal in 10 of 13 games. Uses his superior speed to generate scoring chances. A mid-season position shift from center to wing has helped unshackle his skates.
Eden Prairie sophomore defenseman Luke Mittelstadt. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine
The Mittelstadts come in all shapes, sizes and position preferences. The 5-11, 185 pound Luke, the lone defenseman in the brother trio, might end up as the tallest and most talented of the bunch. He has four goals and 28 assists.
Fits the mold of the modern-day goaltender with his 6-2, 195-pound frame. Money goaltender? He fits that description, too, having stopped an incredible 86 of 88 shots in the section playoffs.
Scored a goal in six of the Cadets’ final seven regular season games, then added two more against East Ridge in the section quarterfinals. If it seems like Christy has been around forever, that’s because he has -- relatively speaking. A varsity regular since he was a freshman, Christy, with 19 goals and 20 assists, is on pace for his third consecutive 40-point season.
Comparisons to players from different eras are often unfair, but in this case we can’t resist mentioning Troumbly in the same breath as late-1960s Greenway star Mike Antonovich. Size comparisons aside (Troumbly is 5-5, 130 pounds; Antonivich was an inch or two taller and 10 or so pounds heavier), both players were born with the ice vision and playmaking skills that can’t be taught. Troumbly enters the tourney with 21 goals and 19 assists.
Another brick in the Hornets’ seemingly impenetrable defensive wall, Vorlicky is a standout among the standouts with both his impeccable play in the defensive zone and offensive contributions (four goals, 21 assists).
So disappointed by the Crusaders’ double-overtime loss to Alexandria in last year’s section final, Smith turned down an offer to play for the USA National Development Team program in favor of another run at the state tournament. The 5-10 Smith’s contributions have been sizable: 27 goals, 35 assists for 62 points.
The younger brother of Casey Mittelstadt, the former Eagles great and current NHLer with the Buffalo Sabres, John has 14 goals and 29 assists playing alongside Jack Jensen on Eden Prairie’s top line.
Duluth East senior defenseman Hunter Paine. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
He goes by Frederick. Or Hunter. Either way, he brings the pain. One of the state’s most physical players, Paine leads a team of heavy hitters with his slegehammer style of play. Contributes to the offense, too, to the tune of five goals and 18 assists.
The picture of consistency, Meister rarely is held off the scoresheet. He’s racked up 28 assists to go with his 10 goals. Was a force in the Bears’ section 3-2 final victory over Hill-Murray, notching a goal and an assist.
Four-assist game against Brainerd late in the regular season was part of a nine-game stretch in which he had 13 assists. The 5-9, 170-pound Gramer, who logs heavy minutes, plays effective defense, too, helping the Spuds shut out two of three section opponents.
The Malmquists are Edina’s answer to Eden Prairie’s Mittelstadts. Or are the Mittelstads Eden Prairie’s answer to the Malmquists? Either way, Liam is the youngest of the three high-scoring brothers starting with Dylan and on to Garrett. Liam, the smallest of the three at 5-9, 155 pounds, has three hat tricks among his 26 goals. He also has 29 assists. Led the Upper Midwest High School Elite League last fall with 32 regular-season points.
Greenway senior forward Donte Lawson. Photo by Dave Harwig
Lawson, the son of former Raiders coach Jim Lawson, has six goals and five assists in three playoff games, meaning he had a hand in 11 of Greenway’s 16 playoff goals. He missed five practices during the section playoffs to be with his younger brother Dominik, who recently underwent a third kidney transplant at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital. “He was strictly a gamer for us,” Greenway coach Grant Clafton said.
Missed more than half the regular season with an upper body injury, yet still has scored 15 goals and 17 assists as a member of the Crusaders’ high octane top line. “Besides (Blake) Biondi up in Hermantown I don’t think you could name a better junior forward in Class A,” Cathedral coach Derrick Brown said.
The Cadets, riding an 18-game win streak, are among the hottest teams in the state. And O’Neill is one of the hottest scorers. Held without a goal for 10 games to start the season, O’Neill finished the regular season with goal-scoring streaks of four and six games. Registered at least three points in seven of 10 games entering the playoffs. Has 19 goals and 30 assists.
We are pleased to introduce your state playoff scoring leader with a stunning eight goals and five assists in three games. The 6-foot, 180-pound Lyle is supposed to play the sidekick to expected early round NHL draft pick Ryder Donovan, but Lyle has snatched the starring role and skated off with it. He has 20 goals and 18 assists overall.
Speaking of sidekicks, Richels has put up massive numbers (39 goals, 38 assists) playing alongside the brand name that is Bryce Brodzinski. Is it too early to declare the 6-2, 200-pound Richels a frontrunner for next year’s Mr. Hockey award?
Edina senior forward Jett Jungels. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
It’s the year of the sidekick! Although between Jungels and longtime linemate Mason Nevers it can be difficult to distinguish who is the Batman and who is the Robin. The sharpshooting Jungels has been held without a point just twice in 28 games and has eight multi-goal games. Mr. Hockey finalist posted totals of 29 goals and 28 assists playing one of the state’s toughest schedules.
The fashionable preseason frontrunner to win this year’s Mr. Hockey award, Donovan had a good but not great season for the up-and-down Greyhounds. The 6-4, 190-pounder blends smooth skating with excellent playmaking skills, racking up 27 assists to go with his 15 goals. He’s expected to be a second- or third-round pick in June’s NHL Draft.
Mason is the son of former Edina hockey and baseball standout Tom Nevers. Despite numerous linemate combinations Mason always seems to find himself on a team’s — and a league’s — most productive forward unit. The Mr. Hockey finalist is a relentless forechecker who is diligent defensively — the definition of a 200-foot player. Useless trivia: Considers Jamaica his favorite vacation destination.
Mr. Hockey finalist amassed 31 regular season goals — a whopping 19 more than the team’s next highest scorer — playing one of the state’s toughest schedules. If he’s going good, so are the Eagles. If he’s not, well, that wasn’t the case very often this season. Jensen had a stretch of eight consecutive multi-point games and has been held without a point just twice. Power forward (6-foot, 200 pounds) had a monster performance in 7-6 regular season victory over Blaine, scoring three goals and adding two assists.
Blaine senior forward Bryce Brodzinski. Photo by Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune
We’ve talked about the Malmquists and the Mittelstadts, Greenway has its Lawsons and Troumblys and Millers and Gernanders. Blaine’s first family is the Brodzinskis. Jonny played at St. Cloud State and now suits up for the Los Angels Kings. Michael starred for Minnesota and is a San Jose Sharks prospect. Easton is playing at St. Cloud State. The last of them is Bryce, a 6-1, 200-pound bundle of raw power and quick-twitch scoring efficiency. Remarkably, the Mr. Hockey finalist has registered at least a point in every game (and was held to just one point two times) while amassing 35 goals and 49 assists. His 76 regular-season points were the most among big-school players and ranked second overall in the state behind the 79 posted by Marshall’s Mason Plante.