The 2016-17 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Boys Hockey Teams were selected by USA TODAY High School Sports based on performance, level of competition and strength of schedule.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Casey Mittelstadt, Eden Prairie (Minn.)
Name: Trent Klatt
School: Grand Rapids (Minn.)
After deciding that he wanted to spend more time with his family in Minnesota, Trent Klatt stepped down as the head amateur scout for the New York Islanders in 2015. But the hockey itch wasn’t going away for the 14-year NHL veteran.
So when the coaching job at Grand Rapids (Minn.) became available, Klatt applied. It appeared to be a good fit—Klatt was a longtime resident of Grand Rapids and had been a youth coach in town. He had even spent a couple of years as a volunteer assistant with the varsity.
Turns out, the fit wasn’t just good. It was perfect. It took Klatt just two years to turn the Thunderhawks (23-7-1) into state champions. That accomplishment earns Klatt the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Coach of the Year honor for 2016-17.
After a stunning 3-2 upset of Eden Prairie—led by American Family Insurance ALL-USA Player of the Year Casey Mittelstadt—in the Class AA state semifinals, Klatt had just one day to bring his team down from that high to focus on the state final against Moorhead, a team that had beaten the Thunderhawks, 4-0, during the regular season.
History did not repeat itself. ALL-USA First Teamer Gavin Hain notched a hat trick and linemates Micah Miller and Blake McLaughlin also scored in the 6-3 win that gave Grand Rapids its first state title since 1980.
The state semifinals and final “was our best hockey that we played all year,” Klatt said after the win against Moorhead. “I saw my players do things that quite frankly, I haven’t seen them to all year — stuff we’ve been trying to teach them and reminding them of. We were playing our best hockey.”
Klatt never won a state title when he starred at Osseo (Minn.) High, winning Mr. Hockey honors in 1989. A few months later, he was drafted in the fourth round by the Washington Capitals. After three successful seasons at the University of Minnesota, he started his NHL career with the Minnesota North Stars, who had traded for Klatt in 1991. Klatt moved when the franchise relocated to Dallas, and he also played for the Philadelphia Flyers—where he had his best season with 24 goals and 21 assists in 1996-97—the Vancouver Canucks and the Los Angeles Kings before retiring after the NHL lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season.