Despite the frigid temperatures, action around the metro area at the varsity level is red hot right now. You shouldn’t need to look too far to find a motivated locker room. With section playoffs right around the corner, everyone is revving up for a big postseason run. And any team that wants a chance at the big dance in March better have their top performers ready to show up when it matters most. These are a few stars that have been shining bright so far this year, and will look to continue MAKING A DIFFERENCE down the stretch. Each of these Athletes will be hard at work this upcoming offseason in our building as part of our support system.
Junior forward, Burnsville HS
We’ve had a few “power families” in our community with multiple siblings making big waves in the hockey world. But with the youngest of three boys now coming into his own, the Ahcan’s are making a case for the top of the list. There is little doubt that Grant has benefited from watching his two brothers find success in high school, junior and college (Jack is a junior at St. Cloud State University, Roman a freshman at the University of Wisconsin). But now he is stepping out their shadows and lighting the lamp for the Blaze this season. After only 7 points last year as a sophomore, Grant’s already put up 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points through 19 games. Grant’s strong offensive awareness mixed with the growth of the physical tools make for legit upside, not unlike his brothers.
Photo credit: David Romuald
Senior forward, Eastview HS
Coming off a monster junior campaign with the Lightning last year and earning a spot in the High School Elite League, Zach has continued to boost his game over the course of his high school career. Although he missed some time due to injury, Zach has still made his mark on the season with 16 points in 13 games. But his game is about more than points on the board. Zach has put an enormous amount of time and effort into building the versatility of his game. His forechecking attributes and overall defensive impact put him in an elite class among 2019 grads. Zach will be looking to make a big jump to junior hockey following graduation.
Junior forward, Academy of Holy Angels
Often times, the competitive spirit of an athlete cannot be taught or developed. Either you enjoy going to battle or you don’t. Owen established a lot of his identity as a fierce competitor early on, leading his Prior Lake team to a PWAA championship back in 2015. That competitive blood has not diminished. And now with a big boost to his strength on the puck and explosive speed this past offseason, Owen’s impact on the ice has skyrocketed. Newy is already up to 22 goals on the season (44 total points) through 20 games, a substantial improvement from scoring 8 goals all of last year. Look for more of the same electricity from Newy down the stretch and next season as well.
Photo credit: Youth Hockey Hub
Senior forward, Farmington HS
This is not a name that was well known a couple years ago. But make no mistake about it, Quinn Rudrud has solidified himself on the hockey scene and shows no signs of leaving. Back when he was a sophomore, Quinn didn't register a single point for the varsity team and wasn’t even a regular in the lineup. Fast forward to his current campaign as senior for the Tigers and he’s tallied 11 goals and 13 assists for 24 points through 17 games. His improved skating strength and high-level elusiveness makes for one of the most dynamic puck possession players in the state. Quinn’s career is just starting to blossom, and his offseason work ethic will continue to give him opportunities moving forward.
Senior forward, Rosemount HS
Our development process is organized and executed to support the specific identity of each player while also boosting their overall versatility. Everyone should be capable and excited to provide value to their team in as many ways as possible. Up to this point, Jackson’s growth has been the epitome of these philosophies. While his offensive prowess is at the forefront of his game (29 points through 19 games this season), Jackson’s résumé of attributes is vast. He’s an ace in the face-off circle, a contributor on the PP and PK and a solid defender in his own zone. We hope to have more than a few of our young forwards follow in Jackson’s footsteps as they move up the ranks.
Junior defenseman, Cretin-Derham Hall
Preston will be a first-year athlete with our program for 2019. And we are excited to support him starting in the spring. After playing both forward and defense in his sophomore campaign, Preston is now permanently manning the blue for the Raiders and providing a massive spark on both sides of the puck. After only recording 3 points last season, Preston has 11 (2 goals, 9 assists) in 19 games thus far. His blend of size and skating ability allows him to be affective defending the rush and handling tough assignments against top offensive opponents. These attributes alone make him one of the most valuable assets on his team.
Photo credit: David Romuald
Senior goaltender, Lakeville South HS
It’s hard to describe Henry’s game right now as “heating up” because he’s been playing at this high of a level for some time. After a .927 save percentage and 1.91 GAA last season as a junior, Henry earned a spot on in the HS Elite League where he led the charge toward a playoff championship for Team Southeast. So far this season, he’s sporting a .928 through 16 starts and has recorded 2 shutouts. An athlete of immense mental toughness and consistency, Henry gives his team a chance to win every night regardless of opponent. He has continued to show growth through tactically strong reads and efficient processes to shut down initial and secondary shots. Henry is in a great position to find success next year at the junior level.
Photo credit: David Romuald
Junior Defenseman, Stillwater HS
Cooper has maintained a steady path of development for several years now. After a nice transition to the varsity level as a sophomore last year, he proved ready to handle big minutes for the Ponies. A year later he is now showing how a big of an impact he can make with those minutes, contributing heavily in defensive zone coverage and with the puck on attack. Coop has tallied 7 goals from the blue line through 18 games played, already surpassing his goal total of 2 last season. Look for more of the same from this talented d-man both this season and in the future. His ceiling his sky high.