We are back today for another conference preseason preview; where we highlight the top returning players at each position and also preview the best teams in the said conference. The conference this week will be a smaller conference as it is the Mariucci. The Mariucci contains Warroad, East Grand Forks, Moorhead, Roseau, Bemidji, Thief River Falls, Crookston. Today we are covering forwards that are worthy of recognition in this conference for their returns. This conference has a very solid mix of teams and a very good mix of players. The top junior inis a question mark as of now if he will come back, but if he does he would be around 2nd on our list.
#1- Jaksen Panzer | 5’10 Forward | Class of 2023 | East Grand Forks
We have just received word from Panzer’s dad via Twitter that he will be back for East Grand Forks this year. Very good news for the HS league as the #6 player in the class of 2023 is now back. Panzer is currently in the NAHL with the Minot Minotaurous and he is having a very solid season there. Panzer is a North Dakota commit and it is pretty surprising he is back, but this is likely his last year in HS and the league is lucky he chose to be back. Last year as a sophomore, he had 36 points with 14 goals and 22 assists in the 23 games he played. He is going to be among the top 5 players in his class on our updated rankings as Shaugabay is likely out of HS. Panzer is a huge player to get back for East Grand Forks and they look like they can at least challenge this H town this year. Look for Panzer to hit 50 points this season in what should be his last year in HS.
With all of the players with eligibility in the state that are playing in juniors as opposed to HS this year- this is one of the top for sure returning players in the state. Strand is currently killing it in the HS elite league, as he has 17 points in 19 games which makes him among the top of that league. Last year in his junior season of HS he averaged 1.86 points per game, with 14 goals, 25 assists for 39 points. Strand is currently ranked as the number 23 player in his class, and the 11th best forward. When this season is all said and done I for sure see Strand finishing as a top ten player in this class.
#3- Gavin Gunderson | 6’1 Forward | Class of 2022 | Roseau
Roseau ends up with 2 of the top 3 returning forwards to this conference, and it is much deserved. Gunderson is currently unranked, on our class of 2022 rankings, but we can guarantee he will be on the first release in December. Gunderson is currently up there in points in the elite league, as he has 16 points in 21 games. The duo of Gunderson and Strand is absolutely killing it during the elite league and they are a top 5 forward duo in the state easily. Gunderson last year had 11 goals and 20 assists for 31 points. Cant wait to see what he can do this year; he is projected in the 30s range of the rankings when we update them. Sleeper breakout player this year.