“Did you see that Casey Mittelstadt?” was the question asked most often during the Class 2A boys’ hockey state tournament.
Eden Prairie’s star center wowed with road-runner speed and great hands. He tallied 12 points in three games and led the Eagles to a runner-up finish.
Only a 17-year-old junior, Mittelstadt now faces questions about the 2016-17 season. Will he remain with Eden Prairie as a senior? Will he skate for Green Bay of the United States Hockey League? Will he play for the Gophers?
All three scenarios are possible, said Mittelstadt, who accelerated his classroom work and is expected to have enough credits to graduate high school this summer.
Moving fast has been Mittelstadt’s modus operandi in all things hockey. Named the state’s Bantam player of the year as a freshman, Mittelstadt committed to Minnesota before skating a varsity shift as a sophomore.
He has played in two state tournaments. He scored 33 goals and added 47 assists this season, earning Star Tribune All-Metro First Team honors as well as being named Minnesota Associated Press Player of the Year.
Accelerating his academics, Mittelstadt said, was about creating options. He plans to start the process of choosing one soon.
“I’m going to give myself about a week then sit down with my family to see what’s best,” he said. “The Gophers said they want me to do what’s best for me.”
Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith said he feels his program has a “good chance” to retain Mittelstadt’s services because the young man grew up watching former Eagles’ standouts Nick Leddy and Kyle Rau win state championships and get named Mr. Hockey as seniors.
“I idolized those guys,” Mittelstadt said. “But I honestly have no idea what I want to do right now.”
Said Smith: “He’s in a good position. He’s got leverage and he can dictate things.”