Class of 2024 Rankings: The Newcomers (Part 3)
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When it comes to ranking 101 players across the state of Minnesota, it is inevitable that some new faces will make themselves known. Whether it was on the ice or in the final box score, all of these skaters made…
When it comes to ranking 101 players across the state of Minnesota, it is inevitable that some new faces will make themselves known. Whether it was on the ice or in the final box score, all of these skaters made leaps and bounds to stand out and add to their game during the 2022-2023 season, and should be celebrated for it. There are guys we missed who finally got their flowers, breakout stars who forced their way onto the list, and even freshly minted varsity starters worth keeping an eye on. That being said, let’s dive into the third batch of new faces in the Class of 2024 rankings.
, Forward, Northfield (Rank: 35)
The third and final piece of Northfield’s exceptional big three,was and still is the puck-slinging, versatile forward that compliments his other teammates and keeps his attack running smoothly. While and out-paced Monson in terms of scoring, the latter led his troupe in assists, logging 37 through 30 games. Monson’s 56 total points would have led the way on the majority of other programs across the state, but on Northfield, he is arguably the best third option Minnesota has to offer. The Raiders attack averaged well over five goals per game last season, and with Kaiser, Monson and Geiger all returning for their senior seasons, that number could be much, much higher when the winter wraps up.
, Goalie, Rock Ridge (Rank: 36)
Rock Ridge’s main goalie in the net,might not fit the mold of a typical net protector, but his performance does more than enough to justify his place between the pipes. A 5-foot-9, 145 pounder guarding the pipes is an anomaly, even at the high school level, but Rothfork is unique in more ways than one. Size aside, this guy can flat out play. Last season, Rothfork racked up a 12-5 record, 1.81 Goals Against Average, and .932 Save Percentage, all figures that were among the best in the state. Some may argue his Iron Range opponents aren’t top tier competition in Class A, but Rothfork’s resume can quickly dispell any doubts. Facing a 27-3-1 Hermantown team that averaged five goals per game in the Section 7A Championship, Rock Ridge was staring down a daunting opponent, the best it had faced all year. Nonetheless though, Rothfork showed out, saving 40 shots and holding Hermantown’s electrifying attack to just two goals before his team was forced into an empty net. Although Rock Ridge ended up losing 1-3, Rothfork’s excellent performance proved that he can hang with any attack thrown at him, making this guy one of my top goalies to watch this coming winter.
, Defenseman, Wayzata (Rank: 39)
Wayzata’scarved out a role for himself amidst one of the most stacked rosters in the state, playing some dang good hockey in the process and earning out-of-season accolades that propelled him further up the ranking totem pole. During his 2022-2023 campaign with the Trojans, Huff put up 12 points on three goals and nine assists, rock-solid numbers for a defenseman. However, Hawke’s off-season performance has been what’s earned this guy buzz around the state, as he made a splash in the Midwest Elite League. It seems like Huff is coming into his own as a skater, and as a result of his hard work, was one of 39 skaters named to a USA Hockey Camp roster. Huffe has great size at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, and should be due for an excellent senior season with the Trojans this coming winter.
, Defenseman, Orono (Rank: 40)
An elite scorer on the defensive end of things,finished third in scoring for Orono last season despite his defenseman status. Even better, the majority of his scoring was setting up forwards, an unselfish play style that further elevated his attack. Mugaas finished his 2022-2023 campaign with three goals and a whopping 30 assists, a point total that kept his offense churning and his defense well-rested. The 6-foot, 160 pound skater has good size and strength, attributes that seem to compliment his style of play nicely on both ends of the ice. Mugaas was the X-factor for a stacked 24-7 Orono squad last season, and odds are, he should continue to keep opposing teams on their toes as he enters his senior year.
, Goalie, Irondale (Rank: 45)
The reigning Tri-Metro goalie of the year and a third year varsity starter,brings arguably the most experience of any goalie on this list, and his resume speaks for himself. Sabev’s defensive unit was inconsistent at times last season, and as a result, the goalie was forced to brave 1,152 shots across only 26 games, an average of nearly 45 pucks sent his way per game. Thanks to this, Irondale struggled to win games, and Sabev’s record took a hit as a result. The goalie may have finished with a 8-15-2 record, but his .917 Save Percentage to the tune of nearly 1,200 shots sent his way goes to show just how good this guy can be if the team around him improves. Irondale’s defense was young and inexperienced last year, but should be set to improve with age. If they can step up and give Sabev some breathing room in the net, the sky is the limit for the Knights.