Casey Mittelstadt, photographed as the Star Tribune's Metro Player of the Year. Photo: Carlos Gonzalez * firstname.lastname@example.org
No drama existed for Minnesota high school hockey fans this selection Sunday.
Eden Prairie center Casey Mittelstadt won the 2017 Mr. Hockey Award, given to the state’s top senior skater. The 33th annual award was presented Sunday afternoon at St. Paul RiverCentre.
Mittelstadt, the first Mr. Hockey selection since 2012 to commit to the Gophers, was favored to win ever since announcing he would remain at Eden Prairie for his senior season. He is the third recipient from the Eagles program, joining Kyle Rau (2011) and Nick Leddy (2009).
“It’s an honor to be with those guys, especially the guys from EP who I grew up looking up to,” said Mittelstadt, a projected first-round pick in June’s NHL draft.
More recent Mr. Hockey finalists from Eden Prairie, Michael Graham and Luc Snuggerud, offered banquet speech advice.
“They said the most important thing was to go up there, be yourself and have some fun with it,” Mittelstadt said.
He approached the season in similar fashion. Mittelstadt tallied 23 goals and 49 assists in 30 games and led Eden Prairie to the No. 1 ranking. He previously was named the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year.
Eden Prairie took second in the 2016 state tournament and sought redemption. Yet after Friday’s semifinal loss dashed his state title hopes, Mittlestadt tweeted, “So much goes into winning, and sometimes things just don’t go your way. Laying it on the line with my brothers will be the best memories of my entire life.”
Eagles assistant coach Steve Olinger appreciated Mittelstadt’s loyalty.
“He stayed when so many people around him were telling him, ‘Just go,’ ” Olinger said. “But his heart told him to stay.”
The other Mr. Hockey finalists were Matt Anderson (Holy Family), Noah Cates (Stillwater), Nick Leivermann (Eden Prairie), Ben Meyers (Delano), Micah Miller (Grand Rapids), Bauer Neudecker (St. Louis Park), Nick Perbix (Elk River), and Hermantown teammates Dylan Samberg and Ryan Sandelin.
The Mr. Hockey Award is selected by a panel of NHL scouts, junior scouts and coaches and college coaches.
Hill-Murray’s Jake Begley won the Frank Brimsek Award, given to the state’s top senior goaltender. The other finalist was Hermantown’s Cade McEwen.
Both awards are presented annually by the Minnesota Minute Men.