Ryan Zuhlsdorf, an Edina sophomore, might just as well be called “Suitcase.” He has played for three Upper Midwest High School Elite League teams this season, all of which would be happy to acquire his services on a full-time basis.
Chase Ellingson has been lighting it up for Team Northwest, and the speed-infused Breck sophomore had a hat trick in Saturday’s win over Great Plains.
Sophomore Kieffer Bellows of Edina has secured a regular spot in league-leading Team Southeast’s talent-laden forward lineup, and Luverne’s smooth-skating Toby Sengvongxay has become a regular defenseman for Great Plains.
Reggie Lutz of Elk River and Luke Notermann of Blaine, each of whom rank in the top four in Minnesota Elite Prep Development League scoring, also have logged significant minutes and made big contributions as Elite League call-ups.
As the go-to supplier of talent for Elite League teams in need of filling roster holes, the Elite D league has proven to be deeply stocked with high-end talent.
“The D league is still a good league, but I wanted to get pulled up,” said Ellingson, who has been filling in for injured Team Northwest forward Matthew Freytag of Wayzata. “I was pretty fortunate that it happened.”
Even with so many of its top players assuming prominent roles for Elite League teams, the Elite D League managed to assemble an all-star team that played two competitive games against Elite League squads last weekend.
"The main thing is that we probably have a wider pool of talent than even we give ourselves credit for," Benilde-St. Margaret's coach Ken Pauly said. "So much focus has been on that top-five or -six guy who may leave after his junior year. We tend to forget that there is an awful lot of depth in high school hockey.
"All they need to get is an opportunity. If we want to preserve high school hockey. We have to continue to develop our depth."
Matt Kiersted, a sophomore defenseman from Elk River, scored a hat trick in the Elite D all-stars’ 5-5 tie with Great Plains on Saturday.
“It was a great opportunity,” Kiersted said. “We figured they were going to underestimate us. So we just came out with fire and tried to get pucks to the net.”
Junior Gunnar Goodmanson of Buffalo, sophomore Sam Huff of Maple Grove and junior Jack Poehling of Lakeville North scored for the MEPDL all-stars in a 7-3 loss to Team North on Sunday. The Elite D all-stars fell behind 4-0 after the first period, then played Team North to a draw over the final 40 minutes.
The Elite League’s playoffs are scheduled for Oct. 25-27 and will include the Elite D all-stars in the eight-team event.