As we look to finish strong with our final 3 weeks of the 2019 training season, most of our Athletes have already headed back to their associations or clubs and begun their 2019-20 regular season. Saying ‘farewell’ to our bantam, peewee and Girls players recently (after our Pro, college & junior left at the end of August) is always a bittersweet time of the year. But our staff will be out to attend regular season games soon to track our Athletes’ development and show support to them and their teams. We are thankful to have such great groups at our peewee and bantam-aged tiers. Here are a few young standouts to go along with the rest of our Players of the Month for September 2019.
Henry Reiff | 18 Selects | Eagan HS
Henry is a veteran Athlete here and is preparing for his senior season in a key role with the Wildcats. He will look to improve on his 24 point total (7 goals, 17 assists) in 25 regular season games last year, and there’s plenty reason to believe that will come to fruition. Henry has shown growth in both his physical tools and gameplay instincts, improving as both a playmaker and goal scorer. Besides his time and efforts put in on our ice, Henry is also in the middle of a solid season on the Blue Army U18 team where he has made an impact with and without the puck.
Photo credit: David Romuald
JD Metz | 18s Tier | Mahtomedi HS
We are excited about a number of “breakout” candidates in our tiers at the high school level, and JD is definitely on that list. Playing both defense and forward last season for the Zephyrs, he showed a lot of promise as a sophomore. After only 13 points through 25 regular season games, JD was a superb postseason performer with 7 points in 6 section/state tournament games. That postseason pace could be a sign of big things to come. JD is looking at a full transition to the blue line moving forward, and will undoubtably jump into a larger role for his squad. The combination of his consistent compete level and overall awareness make for a solid two-way force.
Photo credit:David Romuald
Sam Rice | 16s Tier | Prior Lake
Sam was an exciting addition to our program this year, following a fantastic second-year season for PL’s Bantam AA team. He came in as a high-skill player with a knack for getting pucks in the back of the net. But you’re never sure how new players will respond to the challenges put in front of them or how they will do against the consistent level of competition in this building. Well, we’re happy to report that Sam has thrived in those circumstances this training season and his game has elevated as a result. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that we see a smooth transition to the varsity level and a decent point total for Sam in his sophomore season.
Photo credit: Youth Hockey Hub
Jack Ohlund | 15s Tier | Lakeville South
Jack is another newcomer to our community who impressed in his first training season. It was obvious early on that Jack was passionate about getting better. He brings a consistent attitude to the rink and is always open to feedback and criticism about his game. Having that mindset will always lead to improvements over time. There is little doubt that Jack has prepared himself accordingly to be a major factor at the BAA level for the Cougars this year. Besides his performances here, Jack was also a point-per-game player in the Bantam Elite League Major division this August.
Photo credit: Youth Hockey Hub
Joe Luger | 14s Tier | Woodbury Area
For young players that want to play at a high level in the future, it’s a big advantage to learn to appreciate the competitive spirit of the game at a young age. Get comfortable within physical play and the aggressive battles on the ice now, because you’re going to need it later. Joe is a young player that appears to be on the right track in that area. His intensity in games reps is matched by his work ethic off the ice. There’s some “old school” to his game too, as he’s a d-man who appreciates the defensive side of the game. These attributes were great to see in the Bantam Elite League Minor division, where Joe was a part of the championship-winning Sharks team.
Mario Bernard | 13s Tier | Prior Lake
A 10 out of 10 in terms of attitude and enthusiasm, Mario brings phenomenal energy to the rink and locker room and is a great influence on his peers. And it’s definitely not a coincidence that Mario was among our most improved players throughout all of our tiers. Bringing those kinds of vibes to the ice and genuinely enjoying everything the sport has to offer is the easiest way to get better. Mario has made big jumps in his overall skating strength as well as his passing and vision. We are expecting a regular impact from Mario on the PL Peewee AA team this winter.
Justin Thilmany | 13s Tier | Sibley Area
While we usually only recognize one Athlete from each tier, but Justin was just too good for the past couple months to not be mentioned as well. Taking a page out of his older brother’s book (Tristan will be a junior defenseman for St. Thomas Academy in 2019-20), Justin has shown an affinity for competing and wanting to grow his game throughout the training season. The notable improvements were his skating strength and speed along with offensive execution around the net. With more hard work in the coming years, he could surprise a lot of people in the future.
Abby Jeffers | Girls | Simley HS
It’s hard to put into words the excitement we have for our booming Girls program. There was a massive boost to the overall talent level in the group this year, and that made for a fantastic level of competition on the ice. In Abby’s second year with us, she always made a significant influence on the on-ice atmosphere and player experience this summer. Besides her solid offensive abilities and strong passing skills, Abby is a great student on the ice and always brings good vibes to the rink. Look for a big jump in her point total this season after 10 points last year as an 8th grader.
Jake Lissick | Goaltender | South St. Paul HS
Along with his brother Josh, Jake has been a valued part of our community for a number of years. He made a massive step forward last season for the Packers with a .912 save percentage over 25 regular season games played. And while the expectation have been set higher for him in this building, he continues to impress. His strong desire to improve has led to great progress in both the technical and tactical aspects of his game which have only enhanced his decision making and overall effectiveness in net.