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Coming of age

By Loren Nelson, 04/03/20, 12:45AM CDT


Trio of freshmen serve as frontmen, catalysts for No. 21 Totino-Grace

Austin Burnevik scored 15 goals and added 13 assists as a freshman in 2019-20. Photo by Loren Nelson,

Our too-early look at Class 2A continues as we count down the top 25 big-school teams for the 2020-21 season.

21. Totino-Grace

2019-20 Record: 9-16-2
Playoffs: Lost 1-0 to Blaine in Section 5AA semifinals
Seniors lost: 6
Goals for: 102
Goals lost: 28 | Goals returning: 74
Goals against: 116
Goalie minutes lost: 309:33 | Goalie minutes returning: 1086:35
Power-play percentage: 25.9
Penalty-kill percentage: 77.4

The Eagles opted up to Class 2A before last season, then trotted out mostly untested freshmen and sophomores at key positions all over the ice.

Hardly seems like a recipe for success. Or is it?

Totino-Grace suffered its share of body blows last season, twice suffering through six-game winless stretches. The Eagles flashed some promise for the future, too, in one-goal losses to the likes of state Class 1A tournament finalists Hermantown and Mahtomedi and longtime Northwest Suburban Conference power Blaine (twice). Totino-Grace also forged ties with highly regarded Greenway and Andover.

So now what? Well, Totino-Grace appears to be built for long-term success. Freshman Oliver Moore is the top returning scorer after piling up 36 points, including 29 assists. Austin Burnevik, also a freshman, amassed 14 goals — third best on the team — among his 27 points. Both Moore and Burnevik landed in the top 10 of our rankings of the state’s best freshmen

Completing the freshman triumvirate is goaltender Wes Johnson, who gained invaluable experience while going 6-13-2.

The biggest loss, literally, is Kyle Heffron. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound moustachioed manchild was the Eagles’ top scorer with 48 points. He also shared the team lead in goals with 20. 

Totino-Grace’s other four departing skaters combined for seven goals, leaving the bulk of the Eagles’ production — led by junior 20-goal scorer Luke Delzer — intact. Juniors Sam Thelen (13 goals) and Connor Smith (9 goals) will also play key roles.

Junior Parker Gnos was the top-scoring defenseman with 20 points. Fellow blueliners Howie Moore, a sophomore who scored nine points, and juniors Stephen Golden and Luke Schroeder (both of whom stand over 6-2) also saw significant playing time. Their development - along with Johnson's - will be critical as the Eagles try to ratchet down their 4.30 goals against average. 

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