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14 Minnesotans invited to NTDP U-17 tryout

By Peter Odney , 03/13/24, 11:45AM CDT


Eight forwards, three goaltenders, and three defensemen will make up the Minnesota contingent.

Mikey Berchild, Shattuck-St. Mary's Prep

Mikey Berchild
Shattuck-St. Mary's Prep

One of the most gifted hockey players in the 2008 birthyear, Berchild made the jump from Shatuck-St. Mary's 14U team to the Sabres' top Prep squad, and hasn't looked out of place competing with older players. 

Berchild's skill is obvious, as is his awareness on the ice. That combination helped him total 52 goals and 106 points in 56 games for the 14U Sabres last season, including five points in four games at USA Hockey Nationals. With SSM's big club this year, Berchild has 18 goals and 52 points, ranking eighth on a team of primarily 2006-born players.

Nationally, Berchild led all skaters with four goals and nine points at this year's Youth Olympic Games, leading Team USA to the gold medal.

Dakotah Bailey
Gentry Academy  

The Stillwater native opted to join the Sioux Falls Power after a season with the Ponies' Bantam A team. For the last two seasons, the power forward has played for the Gentry Academy varsity, totaling 34 points in those two seasons. Bailey recorded five points in four games during last spring's USA Hockey Select 15 camp.  

Dakotah Bailey, Gentry Academy

Luke Carrithers
Sioux Falls Power 16U 

When he's on, there may not be a better 2008-born goaltender in the United States than Carrithers, a product of the Maple Grove youth association. Carrithers helped the Bantam AA Leafbirds to last year's State Tournament in his final season of association hockey. 

In his first season with the Tier I Power, Carrithers has recorded a .912 save percentage and a trio of shutouts, culminating in a record of 20-10 as of this writing.

Nate Celski
White Bear Lake 

A big-bodied defenseman who already has a varsity season - and a Class AA State Tournament appearance - under his belt, Celski profiles as a modern defender with good size at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds and food feet. Celski recorded a goal and eight assists on the blueline for the Bears this season, and should continue to grow into his potential. 

Nate Celski, White Bear Lake

Wyatt Cullen
Moorhead Bantam AA

Cullen is a skilled, cerebral player who elevates his linemates with his passing and his ability to catch nearly any pass. 

A true gamer whose play rises to the occasion, Cullen was named Most Valuable Player of the 2023 Battle for the Blue Ox. He totaled six goals and 14 points in four games against top Minnesota Bantam competition. In the tournament finals against Stillwater, Cullen scored two goals and assisted on four others, including the game-winner in double overtime.

Cullen recorded a goal and two assists in four games at last spring's USA Hockey Select 15 National Camp.   

Jimmy Egan

At 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds (and with size 25 skates), Egan combines good size with impressive athleticism and already owns something that nobody else on this list does - a Minnesota high school state championship ring. 

Egan registered four goals and 21 points as a freshman last season during Mahtomedi's run to the Class A state title and earned a coveted spot in last fall's Upper Midwest High School Elite League. This year, Egan has nine goals and 48 points.  

Jimmy Egan, Mahtomedi

AJ Francisco

Francisco's Elite Prospects page may be the most impressive player on this list. The hockey statistics database traces Francisco's hockey lineage back to his great-grandfather, Warren Johnson. Johnson suited up for the University of Minnesota Duluth for the 1947-1948 season, and since then, all the Francisco family has done is turn out high-quality hockey players. 

AJ is the latest branch in the tree, and he fits the mold of a modern defenseman with his mix of mistake-free play and puck-rushing skills. Like Egan, Francisco played in last fall's UMHSEL, totaling seven points in 15 games for The Base. 

Francisco has nine goals and 25 points this season for the Hawks. He tied for second among all defensemen in scoring during the Youth Olympic Games with three points in four contests. 
Logan Lutner
Maple Grove 

Lutner had a solid debut varsity season for the high-powered Maple Grove program, scoring four goals and adding 10 assists while seeing time on both the Crimson power play and penalty kill units. 

A smooth operator in every sense of the term, Lutner recorded three points in four games in last spring's USA Hockey Select 15 National Camp and earned a spot on the 2024 Under-16 team that won gold at this year's Youth Olympic Games. 

AJ Francisco, Hermantown

Sammy Nelson
Osseo-Maple Grove Bantam AA 

The high-flying Nelson has a chance to join his older brother Danny as a member of the Team USA fraternity should he be invited to the National Development Program. The elder Nelson joined the program for his under-18 season, and is now playing for Notre Dame, along with the eldest Nelson brother, Henry. 

Nelson's Bantam AA season is ongoing as of this writing, but his numbers during last fall's Minnesota Hockey High Performance Tier I League were impressive - 17 goals, 14 assists, 31 points. Nelson also notched seven points during Bantam Elite League play. 

Nate Pederson

For your own good, ignore Pederson's measurables - 5-foot-8, 146 pounds, according to Elite Prospects. In Pederson's case, the cliché is true that you can't measure heart, drive, or grit. 

Few players at any level play as hard - or are as hard to play against - as Pederson. He can play on both special teams units just as well as he can play five-on-five.  

Pederson has now played two varsity seasons for Shakopee High School. Building on a successful freshman campaign, he scored 20 goals and 52 points this season, helping the Sabers to their first South Suburban Conference championship.  

Sammy Nelson, Osseo-Maple Grove Bantam AA

Victor Plante
Chicago Mission 15-Only 

After spending his youth career in Hermantown, Plante moved to the Chicago Mission program, transitioning to the Tier I level after his father, Derek, returned to the Chicago Blackhawks organization as an assistant coach. 

Plante tallied five goals and 18 points in 20 HPHL games last season for the Mission, dished out four assists, and added a goal in four games at last spring's USAH Select 15 National Camp. 
Kaenen Smith
Duluth Marshall 

Smith is a wildly gifted athlete with good size. He is coming off a highly impressive first varsity season for the Duluth Marshall program after growing up in the Duluth East youth system. 

As a freshman, Smith went 10-8-1 for the Hilltoppers, finishing the season with a 2.15 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage. Prior to the high school season, Smith recorded a GAA of 1.67 and a save percentage of .909 in the Bantam Elite League.

Kaenan Smith, Duluth Marshall (shown here playing for Bantam Elite League's North Stars)

Parker Trottier
Shattuck-St. Mary's 16U 

An Edina native, Trottier opted to skate for Shattuck-St. Mary's after his 2021-2022 season with the Hornet Bantam AA team. The fleet-footed and powerful forward racked up 43 goals and 88 points for the Sabres' 14U squad, and currently has 13 goals and 26 points for the SSM 16U team. 

In national competition, Trottier was among the leading scorers at last spring USAH Select 15 National Camp with seven points, and totaled two goals and five points during the Youth Olympic Games. His five points tied him for fourth among all YOG skaters.  
Xavier Wendt  
Shattuck-St. Mary's 15-Only 

There are no locks in life, but Wendt feels as safe as any player on this year's tryout list to earn an invitation to the program. 

Wendt is automatic as a goaltender, routinely putting up outstanding numbers against top competition. The Plymouth native finished the 2022-2023 season with a 1.72 GAA and .922 save percentage with eight shutouts for the Shattuck-St. Mary's 14U team, and has even better numbers this season than the SSM 15O squad (1.33 GAA, .926 SV%). 

For Team USA at the Youth Olympic Games, Wendt faced the third-most shots (135) and recorded the second-highest save percentage (.901) among goalies who saw 26 or more shots during the tournament. 

Parker Trottier, Shattuck-St. Mary's 16U

**Statistics are accurate as of March 7, 2024** 

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