A few days ago, we released our newly updated Class of 2023 Player Rankings here at Prep Hockey. With exactly 155 players included in this edition, we have added at least 70 players this time! Adding many players gives us the opportunity to feature more players in our Newcomers articles. Let’s get started with Part 2 of Newcomers for the Class of 2023, as I highlight 5 players once again!
| Forward | Maple Grove | Prep Hockey #89 ’23’s
is another Crimson underclassmen, who is near the top in points on this Junior heavy team. The top four point scorers on Maple Grove are all Juniors, including Kernan, tallying 9 goals and 8 assists so far this season. Kernan is in his first season on the varsity squad and is making an immediate and huge impact. His biggest performance came in the first game of the season, as he tallied 2 goals and 1 assist vs Edina, in a 6-5 losing effort. Jack’s team is a team that has been up and down this season, especially lately, but will be poised to make a state tournament run come playoff time. Centennial and Rogers will be their toughest opponents in Section 5AA, as they have lost to both this season. They also defeated the Cougars of Centennial in their first meeting of the season.
| Forward | Rogers | Prep Hockey #94 ’23’s
is apart of a very good Rogers team, who are looking to make their first trip to Downtown St. Paul in school history. The Royals are 10-6-1 on the season so far and are coming off a huge Section 5AA victory over Maple Grove, winning 5-4. Melquist has been a major contributor, notching 12 points up to this point. Carson’s biggest 3 games came vs Minnetonka, Wayzata, and STMA, totaling 2 points in each 1 goal victory for the Royals. Rogers has been a developing program for a couple years now and look for them to make a run this year and in upcoming seasons.
| Defense | Grand Rapids | Prep Hockey #97 ’23’s
is a defenseman who has helped stabilize that defensive core after the departure of 2021 Mr. Hockey winner Jack Peart. On the season, Stauffer has 16 points and has played well defensively. Playing with the likes of Young, Morque, Murphy, and Sterle on the blueline, this Thunderhawk D-Core is very potent. Grand Rapids hasn’t played the greatest schedule to start the season so far, but now they will dive into their tough AA schedule starting this weekend with Moorhead and Hill-Murray. They are off to a great start and we will see how they fare vs the top dogs of AA down the stretch.
| Forward | Windom | Prep Hockey #110 ’23’s
is off to a monster start in his Junior season at Windom. Espenson leads his team in points with 33 (13 goals, 20 assists). Brady has had two 5 points games vs Austin and Morris/Benson this season and a handful of other multi point games. Even though the Eagles don’t play the greatest schedule, it’s pretty impressive to see what Espenson has done this season and he’s only a Junior. Big things are coming for this player through this season and into his Senior campaign.
| Goalie | Fergus Falls | Prep Hockey #129 ’23’s
is quietly having a nice season between the pipes for Fergus Falls holding a record of 9-5, GAA of 2.64, SV % of .895, and 2 shutouts. Swanson and the Otters have a pretty good chance to make the state tournament this year. They will have an even better chance if Ben keeps up his play in the crease. Swanson’s best performance came vs section rival Little Falls, stopping 28 of 29 shots and his team got a huge 5-1 victory. The Otter Netminder has had a couple clunkers, but if he can prevent those moving forward, watch out for this team.