It’s never too early to start making predictions and preparing to watch Minnesota High School Hockey. Focusing on players to watch will make it exciting to tune in to games when they start again in the fall. That being said, here is my list of players to watch in Section 3A and my “way too early” playoff prediction.
Braxten Hoffmann – New Ulm – Jr. Forward
Heading into his third season as an Eagle, Braxten is going to have a lot of weight on his shoulders after the team’s leading scorer graduated. He finished his sophomore season with 17 goals and 30 assists, which leaves him with the most points in the section for returning players. Not only did he light up the regular season by having 15 multi-point games, but he also continued to perform in the section playoffs. He tallied 6 points in only 2 playoff games. He also nearly doubled his point totals from freshman year to sophomore year so it will be very interesting to see what Hoffman can do this year.
Tristan VanDevere – Marshall – Sr. Forward
Standing at 6’2″ off skates, Tristan is tough to guard in the offensive zone. He powered his way to 15 goals and 17 assists his junior season. Do not take penalties against Marshall because out of his total of 32 points, 9 of them came on the power play. Also, over his career, he has tallied 21 powerplay points out of his 83 career total. VanDevere has been a very consistent player for the Tigers for three years and I believe that his senior season will be a breakout year. Bold prediction: 25 goals this year.
Eli Anderson – Fairmont – Jr. Defense
Eli is a very offensive-minded defenseman after scoring 14 goals and assisting on 17 last season. After two seasons at Fairmont, he has totaled 49 regular season points and he still has two seasons left. Last season, he had an amazing performance in a 6-4 win against Redwood Valley, finishing with 3 goals and 3 assists. With him only being a junior next year, he still has a lot of time to develop and he will be very fun to watch these next couple of seasons.
Mason Clark – Redwood Valley – Sr. Forward
Mason led the Cardinals in points last season finishing with 25 in 24 games played. He has a knack for finding the back of the net as he lit the lamp 14 times last year. Also, despite Redwood losing their first game in sections, Clark managed to score a hattrick out of the team’s 4 goals that game. The Cardinals had a rough season last year but with his leadership and secondary scoring from fellow senior Carter Iwan (10 G, 10A), they will be a team to reckon with.
Austin Hagen – Hutchinson – Sr. Goalie
As a junior, Austin won 13 of his 19 starts. He faced over 500 shots during the regular season and finished with a .911 save percentage. The Tigers ended up making it to the state tournament after breezing by sections. Hagen went 3-0 in section playoffs only letting in 2 goals after facing 51 shots. After logging over 1,000 minutes last year and averaging over a .900 save percentage, he is going to be tough to score against. After graduating a lot of their top scorers, Austin Hagen is going to have to lead the way for the Hutchinson Tigers if they are going to make the trek back to the X.
This is by far the toughest prediction I have had to do so far, but I am going out on a limb saying that it will be a cat fight between the Tigers. Hutch vs. Marshall in the final and Marshall is going to upset the reigning section champs. It is going to be a very fun one to watch folks. Thanks for reading and stay tuned because as the summer goes on I will be doing “players to watch” for every section in the state of Minnesota.