With the 2020-2021 season only a month away, we thought it’s time to showcase the real heroes that keep goalies sane and forwards in check. Here are the top defensemen to watch for this year from each team in Section 3AA.
– Rosemount #18
Rosemount was a powerhouse last year in Section 3AA but ran into a team of destiny in St. Thomas Academy during the 2nd round of playoffs. The Irish will look much different next year, especially in the back end as they are losing their top 4 starting defensemen. Johnston was a hybrid forward/defenseman last year for Rosemount and is the only returning D-man who had a point last season (0G, 2A). He has big shoes to fill as players like(Gophers Commit) and (NAHL) are moving onto the next level of hockey in 2021.
– St. Thomas Academy #12
St. Thomas Academy caught Section 3AA sleeping last year and ran the table as the 5th seed in playoffs. This season, however, will be much more difficult as they are losing their top 5 defensemen from last year as well as Jackson Hallum, who was one of the best two-way players in the state to the USHL. Stattine had a respectable first season for the Cadets with 5 assists (1 of which came in sections vs Eastview) and will look to expand his responsibilities on the powerplay in 2021.
– Burnsville #4
Add Burnsville to the list of teams who will be looking to replace numerous blueliners, as the Blaze graduated their top 3 defensemen from last season. Friedmann was still a part of the 2nd defensive pair for Burnsville last year and managed to contribute on offense (0G, 5A) while staying out of the box (only 6 PIMS). Look for him to try to replace some of the scoring they lost from Joey Anderson (7G, 23A) at the blue line.
– Eagan #24
Consistent with the pattern so far, Eagan is also losing their top 3 scoring defenseman from last season. The Wildcats will look to develop Krahn who had a respectable first season with 4 assists from the blue line and even more discipline (2 PIMS on the year).
– Eastview #11
Not to be outdone, Eastview is also graduating their top 2 defensemen from last season which will open up opportunities for returning skaters like. Keefer managed only 1 assist in his first year for the Lightning, but to be fair he only played in 15 games. He’ll get two more years to develop into a bigger and stronger D-man for Eastview as they look to retool their blue line.
– Bloomington Jefferson #22
The biggest guy on this list, Thomka is an intriguing guy to watch for a breakout season in 2021. He was 2nd in points for all Jaguar defensemen with 6 assists, which was a significant improvement from his first season for the Blue and White. (1G, 0A).
– Park of Cottage Grove #28
Cottage Grove had a tough time scoring goals last season (57 total) which is why Weidner’s numbers really stand out. He had 16 assists on the year, 11 of which came on the powerplay, and finished 3rd on the team in total points. Look for Weidner to continue to quarterback the powerplay for the Wolfpack in his senior year.
– Apple Valley #10
Apple Valley struggled heavily last season, only managing to score 50 goals on the year which resulted in a 7-17-1 record. Even so, Nelson managed to finish 2nd in scoring for all Eagle defensemen with 6 points (1G, 5A). If Apple Valley is to get back into contention in Section 3AA, they’ll need more contributions from players like Nelson on both ends of the ice.