MINNEAPOLIS -- Greetings from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Getting ready to head out to Colorado for this weekend's series. Preview coming later in the day, but for now wanted to get some other news out there.
Three UMD recruits are among ten finalists for Minnesota Mr. Hockey, given annually by the Minnesota Minute Men to the top senior boys' hockey player in the state. Two more local players not headed to UMD made the list, so half the ten finalists have a tie to our area.
(NOTE: Your humble correspondent is a proud member of the Mr. Hockey voting committee.)
Defenseman Matt Anderson (Holy Family Catholic) is signed to join UMD next season, while forward Noah Cates (Stillwater) and defenseman Dylan Samberg (Hermantown) should arrive in 2018. In addition, Hermantown forward Ryan Sandelin -- son of UMD coach Scott -- and Grand Rapids forward Micah Miller are finalists.
Here's the full list from the Minnesota Minute Men release.
MATT ANDERSON, D, HOLY FAMILY CATHOLIC (committed to UMD)
Anderson is tied for second on No. 4-2A Holy Family Catholic (19-3-1) with 18 assists and also has three goals for 21 total points. He tallied 15 points during a nine-game streak between Jan. 6 and Feb. 2 and has recorded a point or more in 12 of 18 games played.
NOAH CATES, F, STILLWATER (UMD)
Cates leads No. 5-2A Stillwater with 38 assists and 56 points. He is also tied for second on the team with 18 goals, helping guide the Ponies to a 19-3 record. He is averaging 2.55 points per game and has contributed three or more points in 14 games this season.
NICK LEIVERMANN, D, EDEN PRAIRIE (Notre Dame)
Leivermann has helped No.1-2A Eden Prairie to a 17-4-2 record this season by registering points in 14 games, including eight with two or more points. He ranks third on the Eagles with 22 assists and has nine goals for 31 points.
BEN MEYERS, F, DELANO (Maine)
Meyers ranks second in the state in goals (39) and first in assists (50) and points (89). He has registered at least one point in all 23 contests he’s played this season for No. 3-1A Delano (18-3-1) and owns a 3.87 points-per-game average. Meyers posted four or more points in 14 games and tallied five or more in each of the Tigers' first seven contests.
CASEY MITTELSTADT, F, EDEN PRAIRIE (Minnesota)
Mittelstadt ranks second in the state in assists (39) and also leads the Eagles in goals (18) and points (57). He has points in 21 of 23 games played and has four or more points in six contests.
MICAH MILLER, F, GRAND RAPIDS (St. Cloud State)
Miller leads No. 10-2A Grand Rapids (16-6-1) in goals (20), assists (32) and points (52). He started the season registering a point or more in 14 consecutive games, including a season-high six points in a 9-3 win over Warroad on Dec. 10. The forward has scored a point in 20 of 23 games.
BAUER NEUDECKER, F, ST. LOUIS PARK (Uncommitted)
Neudecker ranks third in the state in both goals (38) and points (72). He averages 3.00 points per game, helping St. Louis Park to a 17-6-1 record. The forward has a point in 22 of 24 games played, with four or more in nine contests.
NICK PERBIX, D, ELK RIVER (St. Cloud State)
Perbix has helped keep the offense rolling for No. 3-2A Elk River (18-6), recording a team-high 30 assists and 39 points. He has 13 points in his last six games and has tallied the game-winning goal in three contests.
DYLAN SAMBERG, D, HERMANTOWN (UMD)
Samberg has helped No. 1-1A Hermantown to a 21-1-1 record, posting nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points. He scored a season-high five points in an 11-2 win over Greenway on Jan. 3.
RYAN SANDELIN, F, HERMANTOWN (Minnesota State)
Sandelin leads the Hawks in goals (26), assists (32) and points (58). He began the season with an 11-game point streak, and now has a point in 21 of 23 games (a 2.52 points-per-game average). Sandelin scored a season-high six points in a 9-2 win over Mahtomedi.
It's not common for UMD recruits to make up that much of the finalist list. Going back to 2002, only once have three players committed to UMD been named Mr. Hockey finalists.
2016: Riley Tufte (won)
2014: Nick Wolff
2013: Adam Johnson
2012: Charlie Sampair (was not committed at the time), Jared Thomas, Dominic Toninato
2011: Tony Cameranesi
2010: Cal Decowski, Caleb Herbert, Adam Krause
2009: Dan DeLisle, Max Tardy
2008: JT Brown, Drew Olson
2006: David Grun
2005: Matt Niskanen, Mitch Ryan
2013 winner Avery Peterson transferred to UMD from Omaha and is actually in this airport right now (I can vouch, saw him going through security). That's why he isn't listed. He was committed to Omaha at the time of being named a finalist.
Sampair didn't commit to UMD until May 2012 when a spot on the roster opened up. If memory serves, he didn't debut for UMD until November 2012, quite a ways into the season.
Also, Hermantown's Cade McEwen is one of two finalists for the Frank Brimsek Award, which goes to the state's top senior goaltender. Current UMD freshman Hunter Shepard won the award in 2014.
Congratulations to all this year's finalists. More on the UMD-Colorado College series once we get to Colorado Springs.