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Skilled beyond his years

By staff reports, 04/09/10, 1:19PM CDT


Apple Valley's A.J. Michaelson No. 1 on Hub's top sophomores list

Steve Olinger has coached in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League since its inception.

He’s seen plenty of young, highly skilled players whose brains can’t quite keep up with their bodies.

“A lot of these kids that come into high school that are top-speed kind of players have a hard time slowing everything down enough,” said Olinger, the former Chaska/Chanhassen coach. “They do things too quickly where they aren’t handling the puck well or making bad decisions.”

That on-ice maturation process long ago has passed for A.J. Michaelson, the Apple Valley sophomore who plays, and thinks, at speeds normally confined to nitro-drenched dragstrips.

“That’s the thing with Michaelson, that his head is so great, too,” Olinger said. “He can handle playing at that speed.

“He’s the full package.”

One of just six sophomores listed on Elite League rosters last fall, Michaelson suffered a groin injury that knocked him out of the senior-dominated league. The injury lingered into the high school season and eventually forced Michaelson out of the Eagles’ lineup for a stretch that began in mid-January and lasted more than two weeks.

“When he’s healthy, he’s really something special to watch,” Eagles coach Jerry Hayes said.

Michaelson returned to the Apple Valley lineup late in the regular season but didn’t flash his high-revving  form until the playoffs, when he scored six goals in six games. Included in that run was a scintillating two-goal, two-assist performance against Woodbury in the Section 3AA championship game.

After that game, which vaulted the Eagles to the state tournment for the first time since 1996, Michaelson's teammates were asked how players so young (Hudson Fasching -- ranked No. 2 on the Hub's top freshman list -- plays on a line with Michaelson) could perform so well.

"They are young, but they play like they are older guys,” Apple Valley junior goaltender Aaron Gretz said. “Sometimes we forget that Hudson is a freshman and A.J. is a sophomore. They look like seniors out there.”

The Eagles went on to stun Blaine 2-0 in the quarterfinals of the state Class AA tournament.

Michaelson’s sensational season-ending run earned him the Hub’s No. 1 ranking among state sophomores. He finished with 19 goals and 16 assists in 24 games.

More recently, Michaelson was in Ann Arbor, Mich., for the U.S. National Development Program’s U-17 evaluation camp. He played well enough to earn an invitation to join the program’s U-17 team, which plays in the United States Hockey League.

Michaelson was given a deadline of Monday, April 12, to commit to the program. As of Friday, no decision had been made, according to Michaelson’s father, Jeff.

2009-10 Sophomore Scoring Leaders

Sam Coborn Park Rapids F 30 40 70
Christian Horn Benilde-St. Margaret's F 17 35 52
Garrett Schmitz Red Lake Falls D 25 25 50
Alex Harvey Lakeville South F 25 23 48
Zac McCarver North St. Paul F 16 31 47
Lucas Kohls Forest Lake F 26 20 46
Jake O'Borsky Red Wing F 26 20 46
Austyn Young South St. Paul F 26 20 46
Gage Torrel Monticello F 26 19 45
Justin Kloos Lakeville South F 25 20 45
Eric Carlson Albert Lea F 27 17 44
Bill Foy Ely F 19 25 44
Michael Zajac Eagan F 21 22 43
Newton Fuller Minneapolis West F 15 27 42
Mario Lucia Wayzata F 15 27 42
Brandon Parker Faribault D 7 35 42
Wesley Iverson Breck F 17 24 41
Matt Pohlkamp Brainerd F 22 18 40
C.J. Franklin Forest Lake F 19 21 40
Calvin Miska North Branch F 19 20 39
Nick Matthews Ely F 16 23 39
Mike Reilly Holy Angels D 7 31 38
Zach Lawdermilt East Grand Forks F 22 15 37
A.J. Fossen Spring Lake Park F 20 17 37
Jake Randolph Duluth East F 5 31 36
A.J. Michaelson Apple Valley F 19 16 35
Brody Peterson New Ulm F 20 14 34
Mick Dhein Richfield F 19 15 34
Brandon Bistodeau Rogers F 16 17 33
Jake Horton Benilde-St. Margaret's D 8 24 32
Drew Gerold Pine City F 21 10 31
Nate Arentz Lakeville North F 20 11 31
Tom Vidmar Prior Lake F 17 14 31
Tim Fellner Holy Family F 17 14 31
Judd Peterson Duluth Marshall F 16 14 30
Rank Player Team Pos Ht Wt Comment


Ajmichaelson_small A.J. Michaelson Apple Valley F 5'11" 175 One of the fastest players in the state, Michaelson has shown an uncanny ability to create offense on most every shift. He missed eight games late in the season (when the Eagles, not coincidentally, struggled) with a groin injury but was back at top speed in time for the playoffs, when he scored six goals in six games. He finished the season with 19 goals and 16 assists.


Horn__christian_medium_small Christian Horn Benilde-St. Margaret's F 5'10" 170 Red Knights’ star is being recruited by several WCHA schools, including Minnesota. Horn has terrific puck control and is equally effective as a playmaker or goal scorer. He finished as B-SM’s No. 2 scorer with 17 goals and 35 assists and also ranked second in plus/minus with a plus 29. His 52 points was the second most among all sophomores statewide. He has 91 points in two varsity seasons.


Andersfranke_small Anders Franke Elk River G 5'8" 160 Two-year starter is quick, technically sound and a big reason why the Elks received the No. 1 seed in Section 7AA and reached the finals of the section tournament before losing to Duluth East. Franke had six shutouts in 28 games, including a 5-0 triumph over Forest Lake in the section semifinals. He had a 2.22 goals-against average and .909 save percentage.


Mario_lucia_small Mario Lucia Wayzata F 6'2" 175 Son of Gophers coach Don Lucia is big, strong and gifted offensively. The gangly forward has a quick hands and a seemingly unending reach. He finished third in scoring (15 goals, 27 assists) on a team that lost just twice during the regular season and entered the playoffs ranked No. 2 in Class AA.


Hublakeville_north_brady_skjei_small Brady Skjei Lakeville North D 6'0" 170 Offensive-minded defenseman sees the ice well and has a good feel for the game. He plays with the poise and confidence of a senior and was one of the Panthers’ best players at the state Class AA tournament. He scored goals in four of Lakeville North’s five playoff games and finished the season with 11 goals and 18 assists to rank second on the team in scoring.


Justin_kloos_small Justin Kloos Lakeville South F 5'8" 150 Sat out seven games to conclude the regular season with broken collarbone and still finished ninth among all sophomores in scoring with 45 points. An explosive offensive talent, Kloos had a five-goal game against Cretin-Derham Hall to go along with four hat tricks and finished with 25 goals in 21 games.


Mikereilly_small Mike Reilly Holy Angels D 5'9" 150 Likey will follow his older brothers, twins and Minnesota recruits Ryan and Connor, to a top Division I school. Not physically imposing but makes his impact with his quickness and skating ability. Was a force in the playoffs when he led the Stars with three goals and two assists. He had seven goals and 31 assists overall.


Gagetorrel_small Gage Torrel Monticello F 5'10" 170 Scored 26 goals and added 19 assists to lead the Stars in scoring with 45 points, 13 more than the team’s next highest scorer. Had eight multi-goal games during the regular season, during which he went a stretch of 11 games with at least one point. Accepted invitation to participate in USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program’s U-17 evaluation camp.


Cj_franklin_small C.J. Franklin Forest Lake F 5'11" 170 Twice had four-goal games (against St. Francis and Cloquet) and finished second on the Rangers in scoring with 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists). Physical player most often takes the shortest route to the net, even if that means going through opposing defensemen.


Jared_kolquist_small Jared Kolquist Hermantown D 5'10" 175 Great skater who possesses outstanding puck skills and vision. Started as a freshman for the powerhouse Hawks' program and emerged as a two-way star this season, when he had five goals and 26 assists. He scored twice in a thrilling state Class A overtime win over Mahtomedi and was named to the all-tournament team.


Hubroch_century_brock_kautz_small Brock Kautz Rochester Century G 6'0" 170 Parlayed great work ethic and technique into an outstanding season in which he allowed three or more goals just six times in 21 games. Posted .908 save percentage and outstanding 2.14 goals-against average on a Panthers team that shared the Big 9 Conference title with Faribault.


Hubred_lake_falls_garrett_schmitz_small Garrett Schmitz Red Lake Falls D 5'11" 175 Eagles’ top scorer is one of the best offensive defensemen in the northwest. He has great skating ability, good vision and a cannon shot -- the complete package. He scored 25 goals and finished with 50 points in 25 games to lead Red Lake Falls in scoring by a whopping 11 points.


Ericshurhamer_small Eric Schurhamer St. Thomas Academy D 5'10" 175 Smooth skater possesses knack for knowing when to join the rush, and he was an integral cog on one of the state’s most dangerous power plays. He also makes great decisions in the defensive zone and rarely gets caught out of position. He finished with four goals and 21 assists.


Lucas_kohls_small Lucas Kohls Forest Lake F 6'1" 165 Scored 26 goals and had 46 points to lead a Rangers team that went 18-7-2 overall and shared the Suburban East Conference title with Woodbury and Cretin-Derham Hall. Scored two or more goals six times and finished the regular season on eight-game point-scoring streak. A natural goal scorer, Kohls packs a healthy amount of finesse in his 6-foot-1 frame.


Samcoburn_small Sam Coborn Park Rapids F 5'10" 155 Racked up 30 goals and 40 assists in 26 games to lead all sophomores statewide in scoring and finish eighth among all players during the regular season. Coborn has great hockey sense and can jump-start the offense from any point on the ice with his speed and vision.


Hublakeville_north_nate_arentz_small Nate Arentz Lakeville North F 6'0" 170 An outstanding stickhandler and goal scorer who has a quick release on an accurate shot, Arentz led the Panthers in goals (20) and points (31) as a follow-up to his freshman season, when he was the Panthers' offensive Player of the Year.


Michaelzajac_small Michael Zajac Eagan F 6'1" 190 Was the top offensive threat on a Wildcats team that had a surprisingly strong regular season in which they contended for the Lake Conference title and earned the top seed in Section 3AA. Zajac is a big, strong forward with a great shot, and he finished with team-highs of 21 goals and 43 points.


Wesleyiverson_small Wesley Iverson Breck F 6'1" 175 Big, strong, fast and a natural goal scorer, Iverson ranked among the top six forwards on a Mustangs team loaded with offensive stars. He scored a goal in each of the Breck's first four playoff games and finished the season with 17 goals and 24 assists. He loves the physical nature of the game and approaches every shift with a linebacker’s mentality.


Alex_harvey_small Alex Harvey Lakeville South F 5'10" 165 Had a four-goal game against rival Lakeville North late in the season among his five multi-goal games. He led the Cougars with 25 goals and his 48 points ranked second on the team.


Austinrudnick_small Austin Rudnick Breck D 5'10" 195 Strong on his skates, the rugged Rudnick isn't afraid to mix it up with anyone. He finished with eight goals and 14 assists and was at his best at the state Class A tournament, when he posted a plus 6 -- the second best plus/minus total among the Mustangs’ defensemen. He has a cannon shot and was a regular on Mustangs’ second power-play unit.


Horton__jake_medium_small Jake Horton Benilde-St. Margaret's D 5'10" 165 Red Knights’ No. 2 defenseman played in all situations and scored eight goals and added 24 assists. As a testament to his solid work in the defensive zone, finished with a team-best plus/minus rating of plus 30.


Austynyoung_small Austyn Young South St. Paul F 5'10" 170 Young is the son of former Packers' star John Young and shows the same offensive skills. He's a threat to score from anywhere in the offensive zone. He led the Packers in scoring with 26 goals and 20 assists.


Zachmccarver_small Zac McCarver North St. Paul F 6'0" 180 Standout athlete (he also plays football and competes in track and field) was the Polars’ second-leading scorer with 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists) and finished with plus 22 plus/minus rating. He scored at least one point in each of North St. Paul’s final 11 games and was held without a point just four times in the regular season.


Jakeoborsky_small Jake O'Borsky Red Wing F 6'1" 180 A big, strong power forward, O'Borsky uses his size to his advantage in the corners and has a nose for the net. He was the Wingers second-leading scorer with 46 points (26 goals, 20 assists) and scored five goals in three sectional playoff games as Red Wing reached the Section 1A championship game.


Egf17aa_small Zack Lawdermilt East Grand Forks F 5'7" 150 First-line winger had two hat tricks and five other multi-goal games among his 22 goals. He finished with 37 points, second-best on the Green Wave behind senior standout and linemate Jake Useldinger.


Michaelbitzer_small Michael Bitzer Moorhead G 5'10" 190 Split time with All-State selection Logan Marks but got the starting nod in the Section 8AA semifinals and finals. He went 6-3-0 overall and posted outstanding statistics (.927 save percentage, 1.70 goals-against average). Last season Bitzer was the first freshman goaltender to play in Moorhead history. He is also a top baseball player.


Erikbaskin027_small Erik Baskin Minnetonka F 6'3" 205 Showed his knack for scoring big goals in quadruple overtime in the state Class AA semifinals, when he scored to beat Hill-Murray and end the second longest game in state tournament history. Big and strong on the puck, Baskin scored three of his 11 goals in the playoffs and finished with 22 points.


Nickauman068_small Nick Auman Spring Lake Park D 5'10" 165 Two-time All-North Suburban Conference selection quarterbacks the Panthers' power play, kills penalties and does whatever else is required. He scored eight goals and added 18 assists to finish sixth on the team in scoring.


Parker__brandon_small Brandon Parker Faribault F 5'10" 175 One of the state’s highest scoring young defensemen, Parker amassed 42 points (7 goals, 35 assists) for a Falcons team that won a share of the Big 9 Conference title for the first time in the program’s history.


Samrothstein026_small Sam Rothstein Minnetonka F 5'6" 155 Was the Skippers’ No. 3 center behind standouts Max Gardiner and Thomas Schutt but moved into Gardiner’s spot on No. 1-ranked Minnetonka’s deadly power play when Gardiner was out for a month with a broken wrist. Rothstein also played crucial and effective minutes in the playoffs as a penalty killer. Finished season with seven goals and 16 assists.

Keep an eye on . . .

Zach Austin, F, Minneapolis West; Tyler Broderson, F, St. Louis Park; Eric Carlson, F, Albert Lea; Josh Christensen, D, Mankato West; Miles Death, D, Wayzata; Mick Dhein, F, Richfield;  Aaron Dolby, D, Osseo; Adam Eisenmenger, F, Windom; Josh Erickson, F, Roseau; Tim Fellner, F, Holy Family Catholic; A.J. Fossen, F, Spring Lake Park; Andy Foster, G, Warroad; Bill Foy, F, Ely; Newton Fuller, F, Minneapolis West; Drew Gerold, F, Pine City/Rush City; Neil Goff, D, Stillwater; Pete Krieger, F, St. Thomas Academy; Kyle Krueger, F, Prior Lake; Joey Hanowski, F, Little Falls; Tanner Holmquist, F, Hopkins; Tanner Jordan, F, Mahtomedi; Sam Klein, D, Buffalo; Jake Larson, F, St. Michael/Albertville; Brian LeBlanc, D, Hermantown; Charlie Lindgren, G, Lakeville North; Sawyer Marshall, G, Mahtomedi; Nick Matthews, F, Ely; R.J. Majkozak, D, White Bear Lake; Calvin Miska, F, North Branch; Joe Morris, G, New Prague; Ben Newman, F, Little Falls; Judd Peterson, F, Duluth Marshall; Matt Pilot, D, South St. Paul; Matt Pohlkamp, F, Brainerd; Michael Prochno, D, Minnetonka; Aaron Rich, F, Duluth Marshall; Jake Randolph, F, Duluth East; Nate Repensky, D, Duluth East; Paige Skoog, G, Forest Lake;  Derek Smith, D, Apple Valley; Dom Toninato, F, Duluth East; Nate Traina, F, Breck; Tom Vidmar, F, Prior Lake; Dylan Zutz, F, Red Lake Falls.