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Boys hockey: 13 Players to Watch in southeastern Minnesota in '21-'22

A look at a bakers' dozen players to keep an eye on in the area in the 2021-22 boys hockey season.

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Mayo’s Tate Cothern warms up during practice on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, at Graham Arena in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

Kyle Ahlschlager

FORWARD • WASECA

One of many talented underclassmen in southeastern Minnesota, Ahlschlager was nearly a point-per-game player this fall for the Southern Minnesota Bears U16 AAA team. The junior forward is prepared well for his third varsity season. He’s torn up the Big South Conference and Section 1A in his first two; putting up 57 points a year ago after a 28-point freshman season. Ahlschlager averaged a remarkable 2.85 points per game last season.

Gavin Brunmeier

FORWARD • MANKATO WEST

The Scarlets’ top returning scorer, Brunmeier is a big reason why they were within a couple of goals of heading back to the Class A state tournament last spring, falling 4-3 to Dodge County in the Section 1A final. West moves west this season, to Section 3A, and Brunmeier again could be a big reason why the Scarlets challenge for a section title. The 6-feet-3, 180-pound senior had 17 goals and 30 total points a year ago. He had six goals and one assist in 15 games this fall with the New Ulm Steel of the North American 3 Hockey League before joining the Scarlets to play his senior high school season.

Tate Cothern

GOALIE • ROCHESTER MAYO

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The senior was among the state’s best goalies last season, when he split time evenly with then-senior Peyton Mancuso. Cothern went 7-1-0 with a 1.38 goals-against average and a remarkable .949 save percentage. His GAA was the sixth-best in the state, regardless of class, and his save percentage was second in the state, behind only Zach Dosan of Rosemount (.951).

Kyle Doll

FORWARD • LAKEVILLE NORTH

Doll had a breakout season a year ago as just a freshman, cracking a tough Panthers’ lineup and becoming the team’s third-leading scorer. He finished his first varsity season with 12 goals and 23 points in 21 games. Doll has good size, at 5-feet-11, 170 pounds, and skill. He even played a game in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League this fall.

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Dodge County's Matt Donovan (14) skates with the puck during the Section 1A boys hockey championship against Mankato West Wednesday, March 24, 2021, in Kasson. Dodge County beat Mankato West 4-3. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

Matt Donovan

FORWARD • DODGE COUNTY

The senior will get a late start to his hockey season, as he has quarterbacked the Kasson-Mantorville football team to the Class AAAA Prep Bowl. Donovan’s speed and playmaking ability are the same on the ice as they are on the gridiron. Last season he tied for 12th in the state in assists (32), 14th in goals (25) and 10th in points (57) in helping the Wildcats reach the Class A state championship game.

Wyatt Farrell

FORWARD • LA CRESCENT-HOKAH

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One of the top goal-scorers in the area, Farrell scored 22 last season as a freshman. He finished his second season on the varsity with 27 points, helping the Lancers reach the Section 1A semifinals for the first time in program history. Farrell scored six power-play goals and an impressive four short-handed goals, which tied him for fourth-best in the entire state last season.

T.J. Gibson

FORWARD • ROCHESTER CENTURY

The junior averaged more than a point per game a year ago, scoring 14 goals and 22 total points in 19 games. He led the Panthers in goals, points and power-play goals as a varsity newcomer, recording 1.16 points per game. Gibson had four multi-goal games, including a 4-goal, 5-point game against Winona in his first-ever high school game.

Luke Jech

FORWARD • LAKEVILLE NORTH

One of the Panthers’ go-to goal-scorers a year ago, Jech led the team in goals (13) and points (27), and tied for second in assists (14). He came on strong down the stretch last winter, with 13 points in his final seven games, including four total points in three playoff games.

Charlie Kielty

DEFENSEMAN • ROCHESTER LOURDES

A force at both ends of the ice, Kielty was the third-leading scorer on an Eagles team that went 11-6-1 last season after going winless the previous season. Kielty averaged 1.22 points per game, finishing the season with 10 goals and 22 total points. He was a key contributor to the Eagles’ special teams, too, recording seven of his points on the power play.

Spencer Klotz

FORWARD • NORTHFIELD

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The 6-feet-1, 170-pound senior led the Raiders in scoring a year ago, with a tremendous 46 points (15 goals) in just 18 games. Northfield is back in Section 1A this season and Klotz is a big reason why it’s favored to win a section championship. He had a strong showing this fall n the Upper Midwest Elite League, with three goals and four points in seven games. He enters the season with 98 points in his high school career, needing just two more to hit the 100-point mark.

Teis Larsen

FORWARD • WINONA HIGH

The sophomore forward was the Winhawks’ second-leading scorer last season as a freshman, with 13 goals and 22 points. He had just two power-play points, though, a number he’ll likely be expected to increase this season with the loss of three of the team’s top four scorers.

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Moorhead forward Harper Bentz (19) and Lakeville South forward Tanner Ludtke (4) collide with a linesman against the boards in the first period of a Class 2A quarterfinal game of the Boys State Hockey Tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, on Wednesday, March 31, 2021. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

Tanner Ludtke

FORWARD • LAKEVILLE SOUTH

The University of Nebraska Omaha commit surprised some observers around the state by returning to South this winter after playing 11 games this season for the USHL’s Lincoln Stars. But Ludtke and the Cougars have some unfinished business, after falling in the state title game in OT last spring. He was a huge part of the Cougars’ success, with 16 goals and 50 total points, including a team-best 13 power-play points. Ludtke is a team captain this season and is expected to join Omaha in the 2023-24 season.

Ethan Norman

DEFENSEMAN • ROCHESTER MAYO

The fourth-year varsity player is one of the biggest, most physical defensemen in the Big Nine Conference. Norman has 37 points in 70 varsity games over the past three seasons and combines his offensive skill with the ability to use his size -- 6-2, 180 -- to his advantage. He's one of the Spartans' captains this season because of his ability to lead verbally and by example, on and off the ice.

MORE 2021-22 BOYS HOCKEY PREVIEW STORIES:

Mayo's Norman ready to make life tough on opposing players Ethan Norman is in his fourth season as a varsity hockey player at Rochester Mayo. The big, physical defenseman is a captain and a key cog on a Spartans team that has big expectations of itself this season.

A new era at Cotter: Ramblers dive head-first into varsity hockey They have just 13 players on the roster, but the Winona Cotter Ramblers boys hockey team is anxious to test itself at the varsity level. That test begins today, with the program's first-ever varsity game.
Team by team outlook for southeastern Minnesota boys hockey, including Section 1A, 1AA and Big 9 Conference A team by team look at all 22 teams in southeastern Minnesota boys high school hockey
Boys hockey preview: PB's Class A statewide Power Rankings A glance at the top 10 boys hockey teams in the state and 10 more that are challenging for those top spots.
Boys hockey preview: PB's Class AA statewide Power Rankings A glance at the top 10 boys hockey teams in the state and 10 more that are challenging for those top spots.

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