Eden Prairie forward Casey Mittelstadt (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune)
Casey Mittelstadt, the Eden Prairie hockey star and highly touted Gophers recruit, will return for his senior year of high school hockey.
He tweeted “One more go at the dream with the boys I grew up with” on Tuesday afternoon and confirmed his decision with the Star Tribune.
Mittelstadt plans to spend the first part of the school year playing with Green Bay in the United States Hockey League before returning to Minnesota to finish out his high school career with the Eagles.
“The biggest thing that went into my decision was losing to Wayzata,” in the championship game of the boys’ hockey state high school tournament, last March. “In a way, I feel kind of responsible for letting the [seniors and team] down.
“I don’t want to be remembered as the guy that didn’t win. Since I was about 3 years old, I’ve been obsessed with winning state and there is a lot of unfinished business.”
The 17-year-old speedy forward scored 33 goals and added 47 assists in the 2015-16 season. He was named to the Star Tribune All-Metro first team and Minnesota Associated Press Player of the Year. He has played in two state tournaments, tallying 12 points in three games in leading the Eagles to a runner-up finish in 2016.
Mittelstadt, the state’s Bantam player of the year as a freshman, committed to Gophers before his sophomore season. He was in position to graduate high school early and accelerate into college next fall, but decided to delay enrolling at the University of Minnesota until 2017.
“There was a little pressure, but at the end of the day [the Gophers coaches] want me to do what I want to do. I’ll be there next year. … People keep saying ‘You’d do great in college.’ But what it came down to was my heart is at Eden Prairie.”
Though his hockey skills may be college-ready, Mittelstadt said he is looking forward to maturing as a young man before jumping into the life of a full-time college student-athlete.
“I’ve never really rushed anything,” he said. “I played both years of bantams and took it all slowly and let myself development. … The Gophers have been really good with [my decision].”
Mittelstadt will follow the path taken by Riley Tufte of Blaine, the 2016 Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year and Mr. Hockey. Tufte started his senior season in the USHL and returned to Blaine to close out his high school career. Mittelstadt consulted with Tufte over the past few weeks and said Tufte has no regrets. Both are projected to be high NHL draft picks in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Mittelstadt will join Green Bay in late August, return to Eden Prairie in November, then head back to Green Bay after the high school season is complete.