Posted by: Feldman
I've kicked around the idea of naming a preseason All-Area Boys Hockey Team over the past couple of years. The main reasons I've resisted is because I didn't want the potential preseason selections to influence my postseason All-Area Team selections. In other words, when a player starts standing out during the season, I didn't want to discount him because I may not have recognized him during the preseason.
That's a long way of saying, sometimes a player you don't expect to be in your Player Of The Year conversation emerges and leaves you no choice.
That's what Rochester John Marshall senior Brady Dahl did this season. And that's why he's our 2015-16 All-Area Boys Hockey Player Of The Year.
At the start of the season, I had some names in mind -- Dahl's teammate Brady Meyers, JM's senior goalie; Mayo junior forward Anthony Oliveto, the leading returning scorer in Rochester; or Will Zmolek, a junior defenseman at Century who was the Panthers' best player on the ice at times down the stretch in his sophomore season.
All of them would be great choices for multiple reasons. But Dahl, through his play, wouldn't be ignored.
There were times this season when I would try to focus on watching a certain JM player, and with 15 seniors there were many to watch -- sometimes senior F Isaac Lamppa, sometimes Meyers, sometimes their main set-up man Conner Lee, sometimes sophomore playmaker Xander Lamppa -- but my eyes often drifted back to the guy wearing No. 5.
Dahl finished his senior season as the leading scorer in the city, with 23 goals and 28 assists for 51 points. He was remarkably consistent, recording at least one point in 22 of JM's 27 games. He helped the Rockets win 20 games and their first Big Nine Conference championship since 2004. They also won their first playoff game since 2007.
One of Dahl's biggest assets is his speed and how he uses it to his advantage. He also has great hands. He showed off both on the play I'll remember him for, one that exemplified his high school career. Late in JM's Section 1AA quarterfinal victory against
Owatonna, Dahl had a clean breakaway with an empty net in front of him. He was hauled down from behind by a Huskies player, but the officials -- for some reason I still don't understand -- didn't award Dahl the goal. Instead, they gave the Huskies player a penalty, putting the Rockets on the power play for roughly the final minute of the game. Dahl could've yelled or got in the official's face. Instead, he went back to work and used his speed to get around a Owatonna defenseman, then cut across the slot and used his quick hands to beat Huskies goalie Ryan Johnson for an insurance goal in a 3-1 win.
Dahl capped his three-year varsity career at JM with 40 goals and 45 assists for 85 points. His 49 regular-season points this year were tied for third-best in the Big Nine Conference, one point ahead of teammate Isaac Lamppa and Mayo's Oliveto. He was one of the Rockets' top special-teams player, too, with one-third (17) of his 51 points coming on the power play or penalty kill.
He joins the following players as P-B Player of the Year:
PAST ALL-AREA PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
2016 -- Brady Dahl, Sr., F, Rochester John Marshall
2015 -- Riese Zmolek, Sr., D, Rochester Century
2014 -- Riese Zmolek, Jr., D, Rochester Century
2013 -- Alex Funk & Jason Samuelson, Sr., F, Rochester Lourdes
2012 -- Alex Funk, Sr., F, Rochester Lourdes
2011 -- Rory Vesel, Sr., D, Rochester Lourdes
2010 -- No POY (inaugural All-Area Team did not include a POY)
Below is the All-Area First Team, Second Team and a PUC list (Players Under Consideration; our honorable mention list). We pick the team from the seven teams in the Post-Bulletin coverage area -- Rochester Century, Rochester JM, Rochester Lourdes, Rochester Mayo, Austin, Dodge County and Red Wing.
I'll make my annual disclaimer here: The All-Area Team appears only on the Faceoff Blog (not in print or on PostBulletin.com) for a number of reasons, the main one being most of our other writers don't like to do all-area teams because they often become a bigger headache than they're worth. Many times, so many kids' stats are so similar, that it's a no-win situation for us. If we put a point guard who averages 14 points and 7 assists per game on an all-area basketball team, we'll get an earful from parents of kid who averages 15 points and 6 assists.
I'm fair game, though. Rip away if you don't like the team I've put together. I picked it based on who I thought the best players in our coverage area were. Since I don't see every game played, and some teams I only saw once or twice this season, I also went on word of mouth, the things I hear from area coaches and junior hockey scouts during the season. By chatting regularly with coaches, you get a pretty good idea of which players mean the most to their teams, regardless of what the stats say.
And as I've said in past years, there's nothing P.C. about the team (I don't try to balance it out or make sure that every area team is represented equally), it's just a list of who I think the best players in the area were this season.
Let's get to it.
• • •
Brady Dahl, Sr., Rochester JM
*** PLAYER OF THE YEAR ***
23 goals, 28 assists, 51 points
Among the reasons already mentioned, Dahl was the leading scorer on the best team in our area and the best team in the Big Nine Conference. He scored at least one point in 22 of 27 games for JM, which finished 20-7-0 and won the Big Nine for the first time since 2004. Dahl had three hat tricks, five multiple-goal games and 14 multi-point games.
Anthony Oliveto, Jr., Rochester Mayo
23 goals, 25 assists, 48 points
Oliveto was the leading returning scorer in Rochester this season and he may have won the city scoring title had he not missed several games with an injury. The Mayo junior is incredibly versatile. He possesses a nice combination of power, playmaking abilities and a heavy shot. And he's not afraid to hit an opposing player -- hard. Mayo used Oliveto at center and wing; he anchored a top line that the Spartans relied on for a bulk of their scoring. He had a total of 10 points in his final three regular season games, had one hat trick this season and 10 times he had three or more points in a game.
Isaac Lamppa, Sr., Rochester JM
25 goals, 24 assists, 49 points
Like our POY Brady Dahl, Lamppa could be counted on to come through with a point or more nearly every time JM took the ice. He matched Dahl's total of recording at least a point in 22 of the Rockets' 27 games. Lamppa had seven multiple-goal games, including two hat tricks, one in a late-season victory against rival Rochester Mayo. He got off to a hot start, with 18 points in the first nine games this season, and he closed his high school career on a roll, too, with 20 points in the final 10 games.
Josh Frerks, Sr., Rochester JM
7 goals, 30 assists, 37 points
Frerks was valuable in so many ways for the Big Nine champion Rockets. He gave them something a lot of teams don't have -- consistent offense from the blue line. He was vital to their specialty teams, too. Nearly half of his assists (13 of 30) came on the power play. Frerks had five games of three-plus points and had a pair of five-point games, five days apart in January.
Will Zmolek, Jr., Rochester Century
6 goals, 8 assists, 14 points
As a sophomore in 2014-15, Zmolek was at times Century's best player on the ice late in the season. He adapted incredibly quickly to the varsity game as a sophomore. As a junior in 2015-16, Zmolek adapted to being a leader. He went from playing on a senior-laden team to playing on a sophomore-laden team. His focus for much of this season was on being strong in his own end getting the puck out of the Panthers' zone, up to their forwards. Yet, he still finished fourth on the team in scoring.
Brady Meyers, Sr., Rochester JM
20-7-0, 1.85 goals-against avg., .927 save pct., 4 SO
The second-year varsity standout had as good of a season as we've seen from a goalie here in some time. His numbers were in the top 10 in the state all season long. Meyers finished the regular season ranked 4th in save percentage (.930), 6th in the state in victories (19), 9th in goals-against average (1.71) and tied for 12th in shutouts (4). He was rarely out of position, and with his 6-foot-3 frame, that makes it difficulut for opponents to find a place to shoot. He allowed two or less goals in 17 of the Rockets' 27 games and backstopped them to the program's first Big Nine Conference title in 12 years.
• • •
Veikko Weckman, Sr., Rochester Mayo (21-19—40): The foreign exchange student stepped right into Mayo's lineup and clicked instantly on the team's top line with Anthony Oliveto and Max Billings. He finished eighth in the Big Nine in scoring.
Conner Lee, Sr., Rochester JM (14-26—40): The Rockets' best setup man anchored their top line all season. His 38 regular-season points were ninth-best in the Big Nine and his 26 assists were tied for fifth.
Tyler DeFore, Jr., Red Wing (32-11—43): The leading goal-scorer in the Big Nine Conference, DeFore scored 30 regular-season goals and had at least one goal in 21 of the Wingers' 27 games.
Nick Norby, Sr., Rochester Mayo (7-18—25): Norby was a steady presence for the Spartans, both in the defensive zone and on offense, where he recorded at least one point in 16 of Mayo's 26 games.
Seth Cushing, Jr., Red Wing (15-21—36): One of the top-scoring blue-liners in the Big Nine, Cushing had 32 regular-season points, then tacked on four more in a playoff victory against Winona.
Cole Walter, So., Rochester Century (8-12-1, 3.65, .885, 2 SO): The second-year varsity starter helped to stabilize an inexperienced team, as his save percentage showed.
• • •
PUC (Players Under Consideration)
• Max Billings, Sr., Mayo (20-12--32)
• Tucker Chapman, Jr., Lourdes (22-13--35)
• Sam Hanson, Sr., Red Wing (12-22--34)
• Xander Lamppa, So., JM (14-21--35)
• Montana Streit, Jr., Lourdes (10-21--31)
• Jace Greenman, Jr., Austin (11-19--30)
• John Schmitz, Jr., Century (6-9--15)
• Noah Bawek, So., Austin (5-14-1, 3.06, .879)
• Liam Claton, So., Mayo (13-7-1, 3.67, .868)