The Upper Midwest High School Elite League got kicked off this weekend. For those not familiar, it is a 9-week event that brings together the best high school players from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin to give them some high-level competition prior to the high school hockey season. You can view the rosters for the event here.
This week's games took place at the Kohl Center in Madison, and at the St. Louis Park Rec Center in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.
Hockey in Wisconsin had a great game report on Team Wisconsin.
I went to the morning games in SLP, though I skipped the last period of the second game, since I had to run home to watch Michigan not play football. I didn't check the scout check-in list, but it seemed like there were more NHL scouts in attendance than college coaches. I'm hoping to make it back out to a couple more games, so I'll keep the comments fairly short.
In the first game, Team North took on Team Norway. The Norwegians are filling in for Shattuck-St. Mary's for the first two weeks of the season. They did a pretty decent job of providing good competition. The game had a very nice pace to it, but ultimately, Team North was a little faster and ended up winning the game.
Brainerd's Drew Olson continues to look like the best defenseman in Minnesota High School hockey this season. His Brainerd teammate Joey Frazer is always the hardest working player on the ice. Ben Hanowski also had a nice game. Duluth Denfield's Chris Stafne had one of the nicest goals of the day when he finished off a breakaway with a nice backhand to the top shelf.
The second game featured Team Great Plains against Team Southwest. Again, this game had great pace. It was probably even faster than the first. Bryce Ravdalen had a nice game for Team Great Plains, scoring twice, including a very pretty 2-on-1 goal.
Team Southwest looks like they'll do very well because they've got a ton of talent on the blueline including Chris Student, Joe Gleason, Anthony Raiola, and Jake Gardiner. Danny Mattson looked like the best forward on the team. Zach Budish added a couple goals that weren't highlight reel material, but showcased his exceptional strength. His Edina linemate Connor Gaarder played better than I've ever seen him play.
Also, Anders Lee, who transferred from St. Thomas Academy to Edina, played pretty well, especially considering the fact that he threw three touchdown passes for Edina the night before in a high school football game.
Meanwhile, the WCHA Blog was at the afternoon games, and did a great job at capturing some video of a few players.
Here's some video of Team Southwest vs. Norway and Team North vs. Team Great Plains.