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Part 2 Minnesota Hockey Select 15 Preview

By frederick61, 04/26/13, 1:15PM CDT


District 6 Selects Kevin Fellows and Connor Clemons from Prior Lake attack the Osseo/Maple Grove net in the Bantam AA state tourney played at Edina last March

This is the second post previews the White Pool of the Select 15 Festival being played this weekend at Bramaer Arena in Edina.

White Pool (D5, D6, D9 and D11)

The Whiite Pool is not so much a pool as it is a “tinder box”.Throw a match in and anyone of the teams can catch fire and burn through their three games.D6 looks to have the depth to take the top spot and D9 looks to struggle.If the D9 forwards hit stride in their games, that thought changes.D5 has nice strength and could surprise and D11 has the makings of the best line at the Festival.Tough pool.

YHH believes that D5’s Nick Johnson (#33) and goalie Nick Althaus (#50); D9’s Mason Palmer (#63) and Tucker Chapman (#27); D6’s Kevin Fellows (#22) and Matt Denman (#1); and D11’s Luke Dow (#21) and Matt Valure (#18) are the players to watch in the White Pool.Some combination of play of these players will set the standard for moving on to St. Cloud.

District 5 Select 15 Team

St. Michael/Albertville is the place to shop with the complex of discount stores just north of Interstate 94 in Albertville.  It gets so busy at times that a new exit was opened last year to funnel Twin City shoppers directly into the shopping area bypassing the single sheet ice arena that is fast becoming the seat of hockey power in District 5.

With the STMA Association having state tourney entrants in both bantam AA and peewee AA state tourneys last March, it is no surprise that five players (Jack Kelly, Brandon Berning, Trevor Zins, Mitch Bourgerie, and Ryan Copeland) from the Knight’s bantam AA team made the District 5 Select 15 team.

What is becoming an arch rivalry, St. Cloud Association’s teams has been strong since joining District 5 three years ago.  Their peewee AA team made the state tourney this past season.  The bantam AA team placed  players (Max LaBine, Erik Gadbois, and goalie Justin Hagstrom) on the D5 selects.  Goalie Nick Althaus made the District 5 selects.  Althaus was the starting goalie for St. Cloud Apollo last season.  He played all the Apollo games, posting a GAA of 3.18.

Apollo is a high school team dominated by 9th graders that made the Class A State Tourney.With Apollo’s Brandon Bissett making the HP-16 Final 54, Apollo looks to be a tough team in Section 6A in the coming years especially if they keep the young guns coming off St. Cloud Association’s Peewee AA State Tourney team (four peewees were YHH Top 50 picks this year).

Buffalo placed three players on the Select 15 team; Tom Rooney and Blake Habisch from the bantam AA team and Kevin Kemp from the JV team.The Buffalo High School team won the Mississippi 8 conference title last year and then traveled to Roseau to lose 10-2 in the Section 8 quarterfinals.  That could be change in Section 8AA if the District 5 teams continue to improve.

One improving association is MAML (Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake).Still small in numbers, they have produced some good players in the past few years.They have two Select 15 players this year Noah Carson and Nick Johnson.They play in Section 8AA also, but MAML’s problem is that it is a short drive between the Monticello Arena and the Elk River Arena.

River Lakes Association placed one player on the selects this year, Connor Beltz.Another Section 8AA high school, River Lakes had a good peewee AA team last season making the South AA Regional before losing to Jefferson’s peewees 5-1.It will be interesting to see how the Stars bantam and peewees do next season.  YHH believes they will continue to improve.

Sartell placed two players on the District 5 team, both from their bantam A team, Keenan Lund and Matt Moran.Sartell Association’s bantam A and peewee A teams played in District 5’s AA leagues last season; then switched to play in the peewee A tourney.Both bantam A and peewee A teams made it to the State Tourneys last March.Sartell’s High School team plays Section 6A hockey.A strong rivalry already exists St. Cloud Apollo.It will get more heated in the coming years.

Hutchinson placed two players on the select 15 team, Sebastien Vaillancourt and Kyle Graf.Both played bantam A last season.Isaac Kobienia made the team from Willmar’s bantam A team.Hutchinson and Willmar are District 4/5 associations that trend toward the southwest at the youth hockey level and play towards their northwest at the High School level.Willmar High School plays with Sartell and St. Cloud and Section 6A hockey; Hutchinson plays Section 3A hockey with District 4 associations (Hutchinson lost the 3A championship game last March to Marshall 3-2)

District 6 Select 15 Team

The District 6 selects went as expected and then did not go as expected.The expected was the five players (Matt Denman, Kevin Fellows, Chase Gackle, Curtis Hansen, and Connor Clemons) taken from the District 6 Champions, Prior Lake.What is scary about that selection is that Denman and Fellows, after playing the last few years one year apart on different Prior Lake association teams, they turn out to be 9th graders and will partner at the high school level.That pair were perhaps the strongest twosome at Bantam AA level this past season.Fellows (a Top 50 pick last year) continues to improve and is just a fun player to watch on the ice.  Adding Clemons, Gackle, and Hansen to the pair and Prior Lake should rise in the South Suburban.

What was not expected with the D6 Select 15 selections was the Minnetonka Association placing four players (Anthony Schmidt, Zach VanSant, Brendan Skarda, and Jacob Klein) on the D6 select team.  The four Skipper forwards played for the Bantam AA team that struggled all year to play .500 hockey and then made a run at a state tourney entry falling short when they lost to White Bear Lake 2-1 in the game for the #1 South Regional seed to the state.  Later on that Sunday, the Skippers lost to STMA 7-4 in the game for the #2 South Regional Seed to the state.  Players keep developing and at 15 it often comes in a rush.  The Skippers this year make that point.

The fifth Skippers player to make the selects, goalie Thomas Hanson, played for Minnetonka JV last season.

Burnsville placed three Bantam AA team players on the D6 Select 15 team; Dalton Weigel, Ryan Killmer, and Cade Borchardt.That matched the number of players that the Bantam AA State Champions, Edina, placed on the select team, three (Auggie Moore, Kieffer Bellows, and Garrett Wait).There are really no surprises with in the six players that made the selects, but it is interesting to note that two of Edina’s Bantam AA  State Championship team (Casey Dornbach and Ryan Zuhlsdorf) ended up in the HP-16 Final 54 being played at the PIC this weekend.

Two varsity players made the District 6 Select team; Jake Theis from Chanhassen Varsity and goalie Dayton Rasmussen from Holy Family.Theis is a big wing for the Storm and works the corner well as a setup man.Rasmussen, YHH 2011-2012 Top Peewee A player of the year, went 7-0 in the nets for Holy Family Varsity last season posting a GAA of 1.66.

Max Cavanaugh rounds out the D6 selects.Cavanaugh played for the Waconia Bantam A team last season.

District 9 Select 15 Team

The District 9 Select 15 team is dominated by high school varsity players.Seven out of the 18 forwards selected played a full high school season last year averaging 25 regular season games.Three players are from Rochester Lourdes (Rochester Lourdes/Stewartville is the official MSHSL’s official name), Montana Streit, Tucker Chapman, and Mason Carstens.All three played in the Class A State Tourney for the Eagles last March.Streit and Chapman are 8th graders; Carstens is a 9th grader.With Lourdes’ top three point getters graduating; all three select players are targeted to carry the Eagles scoring next season.

Winona’s Ty Mannor, another 8th grader, played varsity for the Winhawks last winter.Winona struggled all season and came close in the Section 1AA tourney to beating Lakeville North, losing to Lakeville North (the eventual Section 1 champs) 2-0 in the quarterfinal game.

Mannor’s Winhawk team played Dodge County in their first Section 1 game in March.They beat Cory Schillo’s Wildcat team 4-2.Schillo as a 9th grader played varsity for Dodge County and is a D9 Select 15 this year.

Kade Friedrichs played for Owatonna’s varsity last season as a 9th grader.Red Wing’s Fritz Belisle made the selects from D9.Belisle played last winter for the Red Wing varsity as a 9th grader.Both Friedrichs and Belisle played a full season at defense on a varsity team.

Two players off the Shattuck AAA bantam team made the D9 selects; Samuel Shrout and Mason Palmer.Palmer played defense for the Sabres who ended the season with a 54-6-1 losing to Honeybaked 3-2 in double overtime in the USA Bantam AAA National Championship game.Shrout, a forward, averaged almost a point a game and ended the season with 50 points.The SSM bantams lost only two games after the first of the year.They lost 3-2 to the Chicago Mission besides losing to Honeybaked in the National Championship game.

Rochester put four bantam AA players on the D9 selects; Johnny Schmitz, Nick Norby, Peter Alexander, and Brandon Ratzloff.The Rochester Bantam AA’s struggled all year, but looked to be ready to make a run in the South Regionals; beating eventual State Championship runner-up’s Duluth East 6-3 and tying the Hounds 3-3 a week before regionals started.  But the Red did not make it out of the South Regional losing 2-1 to White Bear Lake and 2-1 to STMA.

Northfield placed two players on the D9 team; Grant Parrish and goalie Ryan Bielenberg.Parrish played for the Raiders’ bantam A District 9 regular season champs; Bielenberg played for the Northfield JV.Northfield’s Bantam A team came up one game short of making the State Tourney, losing to Hutchinson 5-3 in the game for the South Regional #2 seed.

The second goalie on the team played for the Austin’s Bantam A team, Connor Poczos.

Mankato Bantam A team placed two players on the D9 Select 15 team, Jimmy Miller and Kyle Looft.  John Swenson, Owatonna Bantam A, and Tyler Defore, Red Wing Bantam A round out the District 9 selects this year.

District 11 Select 15 Team

If Bob Dylan had left Hibbing in the 1980’s instead of the 1960’s, his 6th album would have been Interstate 35 Revisited, not Highway 61.Highway 61 in the 1960’s was the major road between Duluth and the Twin Cities.Since then, it has become chunks of road randomly called Highway 61 as the construction of Interstate 35 took over its right of way.  Highway 61 disappears at Cloquet, reemerges east of Cloquet and runs through Esko five miles away on its way to Duluth and further up the North Shore of Lake Superior.

The Cloquet High School hockey team is actually the Cloquet/Esko/Carlton hockey team and with three of the four Cloquet players (Reid Davidson, Ryan Bourgeault, and Michael Sullivan) on the D11 selects calling Esko their home, it probably a good thing.The fourth Cloquet player played for Lumberjack’s bantam AA team.

Hermantown has six of their Bantam AA players on the D11 team; Brendan Baker, Jesse Jacques, James Lindberg, Logan Judnick, Matt Valure, and Cole Koepke.Jacques, Judnick, and Valure all played for Hermantown’s 2011-2012 Peewee A team that place second in the State Tourney held at Alexandria a year ago.

Duluth East placed four of their State Tourney runner up Bantam AA team on the D11 select 15 team; Shay Donovan, Ash Altmann, goalie John Orrey, and Conner Johnson; but the real story is Lukas Dow, formally of the East Bantam AA team last March and now bound for Duluth Marshall.  Altmann, Dow, and Donovan were the top line for the Duluth East Bantam AA at the State Tourney in March.  Joe Liberty, also a Bantam AA for the Hounds in March has made the selects as a Duluth Marshall player.

One other District 11 Select came from Duluth Marshall Varsity team, Lane Krenzen.Krenzen played a full season with the Hilltoppers and played in the Class A State Tourney last March.

Moose Lake Association placed one of their Bantam B players, Bryceton Butkiewicz, on the D11 selects.The Rebels came with a game of making it to the Bantam B State Tourney last March, losing to Bemidji in the game for the North’s #2 seed.Bill Kidd from Denfeld made the team.Kidd skated for the Denfeld Varsity as a 9th grader last season.

Kyle Nelson, a goalie from Prior Lake’s Bantam A team, made the D11 selects.

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