Welcome back to another week and another look inside the world that is Minnesota State High School Hockey. Last week we took a look at a few of the big names returning from Class 2A. This week its Class 1A’s turn in the spotlight as we look at a few of the players to keep your eye on this year.
First and foremost the runners up in Class Single A last year, the Hermantown Hawks, have a duo coming back that most people believe will bring them back into the tournament fold come March. Nate Pionk and Ryan Kero return after being one of the many Hawks who had multiple points in the State Tournament last year, but one has to imagine that they are hoping for a better finish this year. After a 5th straight second place finish in the tournament final it’s up to Kero and Pionk to lead the Hawks through to the promised land. After being two the top two point getters for Hermantown, expect them to continue forward and push the Hawks to the top of the Lake Superior Conference yet again. However, to do that they need to make it past the ever improving Duluth Denfeld Hunters and perennial rivals Duluth Marshall. Leading the Marshall team who is looking to make it back into the State Tournament after missing out last season will be the play of their goaltender Alex Murray. He carried a 2.18 goals against last year, while collecting 15 wins on the year. If Marshall wants to make another run at a state title the need him to be the best goaltender in the state to deflect the firepower of some of the other Class Single A teams.
Turning our attention south we have a young gun who wasn’t even in high school last year but still managed to produce at a surprising pace for the Luverne squad Jaxson Nelson. While putting up four points in the state tournament last year, his continued development will be key with the departure of the some of the seniors from last year’s team. He won’t have to worry about doing it alone as he gets to have someone named Chaz Smedsrud, who also was a solid point producer in the state tournament a year ago. Between the two of them, Luverne can look to return to the tournament and make some more noise.
Lastly, we have Chase Ellington from Breck. Breck, missing the tournament last year has to lean on the potential offensive ability of Ellington this year. Despite playing respectable last year, if he takes lead of the this team and puts the puck in the net even more look for Breck to return to the tournament with ease as they have done in so many years past.
Well that’s a few of the players from Class 1A I’m looking at to make this next year interesting. Think I missed someone? Think that I’m wrong on any of these players? Let me know in the comments below.