After not having been to a high school game since before Christmas, I finally made it back to a game, braving lots of ice and lots of cold to see Osseo-surprisingly ranked 9th in Class AA--take on Anoka High School.
Neither team has many well-known names, but there were definitely some players to watch on the ice. You can read about the game after the jump.
This was my first chance to see Osseo play. They're an interesting team that has flown under the radar a bit because they don't have much in the way of future Division I hockey talent--in fact, two of their top players, the Windle twins, are committed to play college baseball next year. But they've got a core group of about five solid, experienced guys that took Blaine to the brink last year, and have had a great season so far, including taking a game with Blaine into the third period again. They're a nice team and legitimately as good as their ranking would indicate.
It looked like Anoka might have an upset in the works to start the game. They used some early momentum to take a 1-0 lead, and then caught a break when Osseo's goalie misplayed a puck and gave up an easy goal to make it 2-0. It looked like Anoka would take that lead to the lockerroom, but with 20 seconds left, Anoka had an ugly turnover in their own end while shorthanded, and Osseo scored a pretty goal to cut the lead to one. It was a huge momentum shifter and from that point on, Osseo rolled. They added three goals in the second period and two in the third for an easy 6-2 win.
Individually, I already mentioned the Windle twins. Sam Windle is a really nice high school player, but like I said, his future is in baseball. Osseo has another set of brothers in Patrick and Tim Bonner. Junior Tim is a little smaller, but a crafty offensive player. He kind of reminds me of a less polished version of Andover's Cal Decowski, who is currently among the state's leading scorers. He may be a player to watch next year.
Osseo's strength is really on the blueline. In addition to Sam Windle, they've got senior James Hansen, who made it to the NIT of the Elite League this fall. I thought Hansen struggled a bit with the speed of the game at the NIT and there was nothing close to that level of play to test him last night, but he's a big guy at 6'2" 215 lbs. and he moves pretty well. He'll probably move on to junior hockey next season, and with some experience, could be a very good defensive defenseman. The other defenseman for Osseo to keep an eye on is sophomore Aaron Dolby. I thought Dolby should have made the national Select 15 Festival last summer, though he wasn't picked. He's listed at 5'10" 150 lbs. but he looks stronger than that. It will be interesting to see how he grows and develops because he's got the skills to be another solid defensive defenseman.
Anoka isn't a great team this year, but the future looks fairly bright for them. Their leading scorer is junior Tony Niederhaus, and junior defenseman Andrew Olek is a tall defenseman that logs a lot of ice.
But the top two prospects for the Tornadoes are a pair of freshman defensemen. The first is '94-born Kris Manthey. Manthey isn't a big kid, but smooth, and incredibly hockey smart. The second is '95-born Dylan Adler, who played on the talented '95 Blades AAA team. Adler is incredibly talented, and played much better than you'd expect from a freshman. He'll definitely be a player to watch.