We are back today with another installation of the best returning players in a conference. Today we are covering the Central Lakes conference top returning defenseman. The Central Lakes conference contains Alexandria, Windom, Brainerd, Fergus Falls, River Lakes, St. Cloud, Sartell- St. Stephen, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Willmar. This conference has some very solid returning forwards, and a couple that are in our Prep Hockey class rankings! In this article, we take a look at the top returning defenseman in this conference, and there are two players that I think are worthy of recognition of the best returning. This conference is likely losing their top defenseman early, in St Cloud. Max Rud Max Rud 6'2" | Defense St. Cloud | 2022 MN . Rud is committed to the University of Minnesota and is likely staying to play for the Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL. Let us break it down below highlighting the players and saying why they are the best.
1. Eric Pohlkamp | 5’10 Defenseman | Class of 2022 | Brainerd High School
With Rud staying in the USHL, Pohlkamp is by far the best returning two-way defender most likely coming back to high school this season. Pohlkamp is also in the USHL currently, but he is not committed to a college, so we think it is more valuable to come back to HS this season for his senior year, and then he can go back to USHL after. Pohlkamp is currently ranked as the number 11 defender in the state for his class, which puts him at 36 overall as of now. Pohlkamp had a phenomenal junior season stat-wise, as he finished with 12 goals and 10 assists in 18 games. Pohlkamp is a very good scoring defenseman and found the back of the net quite often last season. His best game was against Duluth East where he had 2 goals against a pretty historically tough team. There is a good chance that Pohlkamp would lead his Brainerd team this year in scoring and points with a return. Good to see a defender contributing this much to a team offensively.
2. Sterling McCabe | Defenseman | Class of 2023 | Sartell- St. Stephen
Sterling “Teddy” McCabe is a really crucial player for what should be a good Sartell squad this season. McCabe finished the season last year with 4 goals and 11 assists in 19 games. What stands out to me most about him are the unique stats he gave Sartell- he had 1 power-play goal and 2 power-play assists. he also had a shorthanded assist last season. Having 4 special teams points shows me that McCabe was in a really big role being on the PK or PP last season as an underclassman. I think he returns this season with an even bigger role and he is going to crush it with all the experience he had last year as a junior. Very interesting player.. we are looking forward to seeing how he can progress this year.
3. Thomas Franke | Defenseman | Class of 2022 | Sartell- St. Stephen
Sartell’s Thomas Franke is worthy of this third spot in this list in a conference that doesn’t have too many elite defenders coming back this year. Franke had the most assists last season in this conference for a defender, with 12 assists. Franke had an eye-opening 7 assists on the power play last season, solidifying himself as the conference’s top playmaker. Franke is looking for a potential big senior season, as Sartell has a great squad this year. His D partner is Sterling McCabe- they are easily the top defensive duo in the conference returning this year. Franke is the puck distributor in one of the most effective power plays in the state. They were 31.7 percent on their power play, which is really really good. Look for these two defenders to make big waves this year with a very good Sartell squad.