The casual high school hockey fan knows the big names - Riley Tufte, Casey Mittelstadt, or Mitchell Mattson. The nerdy fans know the top Bantams from last year - Gavin Hain, Lewis Crosby, or Carter Randklev. In the right circle of fans, parents and scouts you can find a nice list of top recruits or up and coming super stars. YHH likes to tell the story of the unknown players - players that sit in the shadows of bigger names and talent.
Early in the season, five players have really stood out to YHH in the high school games we've seen so far. Until this year, most were unknowns skating in the shadows of other great players or big brothers. Benilde's Auggie Moore is the younger brother of former Red Knight TJ Moore, now skating at Holy Cross. Eden Prairie's Nolan Sullivan is the younger brother of former Eagle star Marc Sullivan who is now playing junior hockey in Alaska. Our other three stars have skated in annonymity while other stars grabbed the attention.
This group of skaters are now at or second in scoring on their teams and have been a big part of their team so far this year. We've seen several new names and faces, which is why we go to the rink each night. These five are what keep it fun.
Player: William Blake, Senior
Points: 6 Goals, 10 Assists
Great finesse player with speed and hands...looks like many of the great Breck players in the past. Trails only Chase Ellingson in points for the Mustangs. Best known for scoring the game winner last year in section final to beat Delano. One IMAC coach said of Blake, "he's so good with the puck, it's hard to find someone to match up with him all three periods."
William Blake (right) after he scored the GWG to lift the Mustangs to state last year - Photo Credit MN Hockey Hub/Star Tribune
Player: Jack Johnston, Junior
School: St. Paul Academy
Points: 6 Goals, 6 Assists
The leading scorer for the Spartans with 12 points. Brings a lot to the table offensively...has gifted hands and high end first and second step. Had 35 points last year as tenth grader, at times is in total control when he has the puck. "Johnston can take over at times, he has a very bright future," said one IMAC coach.
Jack Johnston, SPA
Player: Auggie Moore, Senior
School: Benilde St. Margaret's
Points: 7 Goals, 9 Assists
Moore has always been an "oh yeah" guy. The guy when you list off top players from a team, after three or four names you say, "oh yeah, Auggie Moore, too." That tag is officially been torn off this senior center. He is the heart and soul of the number one ranked Red Knights. He is all over the ice, the catalyst on special teams and a player who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Moore is the type of player who finds a way to win battles, create space and pass the puck with great precision.
Auggie Moore, BSM
Player: Nolan Sullivan, Junior
School: Eden Prairie
Points: 6 Goals, 6 Assists
On Friday night at the St. Louis Park Rec Center you could see the transformation of Nolan Sullivan from nice player to great player. Always the type of player who fills a role, Sullivan has taken on the "the other guy" role. Eden Prairie is best known for the big three, Michael Graham, Casey Mittelstadt and Cole Lawrence.
The scouting report is stop them, they have no "other guys" that can beat you. Sullivan is very strong, has a ton of experience for a junior and looks to be a key to the success of the Eagles run to the X this year. Look for Sullivan to rack up 40 points this year against the state's toughest schedule, not bad for an other guy.
Nolan Sullivan, EP
Player: Eric Otto, Burnsville
Points: 3 Goals, 5 Assists
A fan calls and says, "you gotta see this kid from Burnsville, he's a beast..." The one thing about fans from opposing teams, they never lie. They lie about a lot, but never do they lie about how good their opponent was. The kid from Burnsville was Eric Otto, a six foot two forward who can take over a game at any time. With great skating ability, work ethic and pretty blonde locks coming out of his helmet - a beast is bad description. We'd say he's a terror. Teams usually don't want to deal with him.
One junior scout said of Otto, "I'd take him on my team right now, he plays hard and has a great frame to be a D1 player...that's what we are looking for."
Playing in the shadow of other Burnsville greats like Brock Boeser, Sam Rossini, and Jack Ahcan - Otto really never got a chance to shine. This year, the Blaze have new hope landing in Section 3AA - a trip to state is in their sights. If they make it there, Eric Otto will likely be the reason.
Eric Otto, Burnsville