Every year, the Edina Holiday Classic, a three-day round robin event featuring Edina High School, Grand Rapids High School, Eden Prairie High School, and Elk River High School, is one of the premier high school hockey events in the country.
But this year’s tournament will be something truly special. Edina brings their usual highly-ranked squad into the tournament, sitting at 6th in the Class AA rankings. The thing is, #6 Edina will be the lowest-ranked team in this year’s event, behind #4 Elk River, #3 Grand Rapids, and #1 Eden Prairie.
The games will be held Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at historic Braemar Arena in Edina. Games are scheduled back-to-back at 6pm and 8pm all three nights, with Edina playing the late game each night.
All the games will be streamed(for free!) on PSBMedia.com.
Here’s a look at some of the key players to watch from each team:
#1 Eden Prairie
By this point, everybody knows about Casey Mittelstadt. This will likely be the three toughest games Mittelstadt plays during the high school season—even more than the State Tournament—so every NHL team will likely be there to scout him. I’m not sure there’s much he can do during the high school season to help his draft stock. He’s done pretty much everything he can at this level. More than anything, it will be fun just to watch him.
Other players to watch include defenseman Nicky Leivermann(Notre Dame), who is a great playmaker from the blue line, and sophomore forward Jack Jensen(Minnesota), who is coming off a great fall and is a fast, exciting player to watch. Veteran forwards Hunter Johannes and Nolan Sullivan are good players that will likely move on to junior next year.
There’s not a lot of star power behind those guys, but with a high school that on any given school day is the 200th largest city in the state, they’re bound to have pretty good depth.
#3 Grand Rapids
The Thunderhawks aren’t as deep as the other teams in this tournament, but the fact that nobody ever leaves Grand Rapids early really plays to their advantage. Their first line has two of the best juniors in the state in Blake McLaughlin(Minnesota) and Gavin Hain(North Dakota), and senior Micah Miller(St. Cloud), all of whom could be playing in the USHL right now if they had chosen to.
On the blue line John Stampohar might be the top defenseman in the state and is a serious candidate to be selected in the NHL Draft this summer.
#4 Elk River
For a team ranked in the top five in the state, I hear very little talk about them as an elite team. But after seeing them grind down another top ten ranked team last weekend in Centennial, I think they’re the real deal.
It all starts with their twin towers on defense in Nick Perbix(St. Cloud) and Benton Maass. Both are seniors and are fringe NHL Draft prospects. Expect one or both of them to be on the ice at all times for Elk River.
The offense is led by sophomore Jack Perbix(Notre Dame), who is in the running for best sophomore in the state and senior Jax Murray. Murray often gets overlooked because of his size, but he has incredible hockey sense and is a true playmaker.
Behind those two are a number of solid players that might get looks in junior hockey some day. Connor Bizal has good chemistry playing on a line with Perbix. Nate Horn is a speedy winger. And Max Michaelis can really affect the game with his size and ability to drive to the net.
No one is going to feel too sorry for them given the run of success they’ve had, but there are a lot of former Edina players playing elsewhere this year and that’s probably the difference between this year’s Edina squad being a good team and a great team.
There’s still a lot of talent remaining though, starting with forward Sammy Walker(Minnesota), who plays a speedy, skill game, and his complemented by power forward Bram Scheerer(Colorado College) on the top line. Sophomore forward Jett Jungels had a good fall season with the Minnesota and provides another fast, dangerous scoring option.
Their defense is very young, but very talented starting with sophomore Ben Brinkman(Minnesota) and freshman Jake Boltmann(Minnesota). Sophomore defenseman Mason Reiners is an ‘01 birthdate with high upside as well.