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.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Trent Klatt, Grand Rapids (Minn.)
Name: Casey Mittelstadt
School: Eden Prairie (Minn.)
When Casey Mittelstadt surprised many hockey observers by returning to Eden Prairie (Minn.) for his senior year of high school, the narrative was that it was state championship or bust for the Eagles.
The storybook ending never materialized as Eden Prairie lost in the Minnesota Class AA state semifinals. But it also didn’t take any of the shine off a spectacular senior season that ends with Mittelstadt repeating as the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Player of the Year.
The 6-foot, 200-pound center scored 23 goals and dished out 49 assists in 30 games. He won the state’s Mr. Hockey award and was the Star Tribune’s All-Metro Player of the Year. He scored a point in all but two games and he had multiple assists 14 times.
That he scored any points for the Eagles this year was a little unexpected. After a junior season in which he dazzled the Minnesota hockey world with his skills and hockey IQ, Mittelstadt had options. He could join the Green Bay (Wis.) Gamblers of the United States Hockey League for the full season. Or he could graduate from high school early and matriculate at the University of Minnesota to kick-start his college career.
But he made it clear last summer that he wanted to return to high school.
Even after NHL Central Scouting named him its No. 5 prospect among North American skaters—over the last 10 years the previous high mark for a high-school prospect was New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh, who was ranked No. 11 in 2007—Mittelstadt stayed the course. Even after being named MVP of the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in September, Mittelstadt stayed the course.
He played for Green Bay before and after his high school season but was in Eden Prairie for its season.
The move appeared to be paying off. After suffering through a 2-4-2 spell in December, the Eagles closed the regular season with 13 straight wins before sweeping through the Section 2AA tournament and beating Wayzata (Minn.) in the state quarterfinals. But the run ended with a 3-2 loss to eventual state champion Grand Rapids (Minn.) in the semifinals. The next day, Mittelstadt scored the 82nd and final goal of his stellar three-year varsity career in a 3-2 win over Lakeville South (Minn.) in the third-place game.
“A lot was made out about me only coming back to win a state tournament,” Mittelstadt wrote to his nearly 4,000 followers on Twitter after the semifinal loss to Grand Rapids. “In my eyes it was all about another 5 months with the kids I love and grew up with … So much goes into winning, and sometimes things just don’t go your way. Laying it on the line with my brothers will be the best memories of my entire life.”
LOOKBACK: 2016-17 ALL-USA Preseason Team
ONE YEAR AGO: Who made the ALL-USA Team last season?