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 6A and my “way too early” playoff prediction.
Zach Bruns – Morris/Benson Area – Sr. Forward
Zach had a huge year last year after scoring a whopping 40 goals for the Storm. He also assisted on 20 others for a total of 60 points which puts him at the top of the section for returning players. He led the Storm to a solid 19 win season. Bruns recorded a hat trick in FOUR straight games and he finished the year with 7 total. He managed to score a goal in every single game besides three. With his unbelievable scoring ability and some secondary scoring from fellow senior forward Will Breuer (14G, 18A), Morris/Benson should have another solid year.
Gabe Hirsch – Little Falls – Sr. Forward
The Flyers have a lot of talented seniors coming into the 2020-2021 season and Gabe Hirsch leads the charge. After finishing his junior year with 17 goals and 26 points, Gabe is on schedule to have an electric senior year and he’s not the only one. Fellow senior forwards Nicholas Stevens (17G, 23A) and Gunnar Gustafson (16G, 22A) both had big junior years. The trio combined for a total of 121 points last season. Little Falls’ ability to put the puck in the net is going to be tough to stop.
Dane Couture – Little Falls – Sr. Goalie
Not only do the Flyers have the proper firepower up front, but they also have a solid goaltender returning in Dane Couture. Dane played every single game and recorded a total of 1,335 minutes last season. He finished the year with 538 saves, 1.95 GAA, a .913 save percentage, and 5 shutouts. Couture also ended the year with 1 goal and 1 assist. Yes, you read that right. He will also have some help on defense from senior Joe Majerle (7G, 27A) so he can try and score as many goals as he wants.
Josiah Gronholz – Alexandria – Jr. Forward
Josiah is going into his junior year after having a breakout season for the Cardinals. He ended the season with 18 goals and 19 assists. Gronholz Aka “Captain Clutch” scored 4 game-winning goals for the Cardinals last season. He also managed to have 10 multi-point games including two games with 4 points. After losing some of their top scorers to graduation, Josiah is going to have to lead the charge with the help of fellow senior forward Joe Westlund (12G, 16A) if they want to be successful.
Eli Fletcher – Prairie Center – So. Forward
Eli started his high school hockey career as an eighth-grader and has made an immediate impact for his team. Two seasons ago, he finished with 19 goals and 8 assists. Last season, he broke out and scored 31 goals and tallied 10 assists. It was tough to keep him off the score sheet as he was able to record at least one point in 20 out of the 25 regular season games. With him already having a career total of 68 points and still having three seasons left, Fletcher is going to be a very exciting player to watch.
Cullen Hiltner – St. Cloud Cathedral – Sr. Forward
Including playoffs, Cullen played 28 games and tallied 15 goals and 28 assists. He started the season off hot with a 7 point game against Fergus Falls. He stayed steady throughout the regular season and into the playoffs where he recorded 7 points in 6 games, including 3 goals in sections. After graduating a very skilled senior class, the Crusaders are going to need Hiltner to use his playmaking ability as well as solid goaltending from senior Grant Martin (2.60 GAA, .890 SV%) if they want to return to The Tourney.
I predict the Little Falls Flyers are going to return to the X after a 9-year drought. 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.