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South rises again

By Loren Nelson, 04/18/20, 2:00PM CDT


Stockpile of talent gives goalie Cody Ticen and No. 6 Lakeville South real shot at title run

Lakeville South junior Griffin Ludtke scored nine goals and added 16 assists last season and ranks among the state's top returning defensemen. Photo by Tim Kolehmainen, Breakdown Sports Media

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

6. Lakeville South

2019-20 Record: 21-9-0
Playoffs: Lost 3-0 to Maple Grove in state Class 2A consolation semifinals
Seniors lost: 5
Goals for: 125
Goals lost: 38 | Goals returning: 87
Goals against: 63
Goalie minutes lost: 0 | Goalie minutes returning: 1531:55
Power-play percentage: 17.0
Penalty-kill percentage: 82.8

The vagaries of player movement in the south metro make for immense and sudden shifts in power.

Sometimes, through some combination of open enrollment, transfers and a good ol’ abundance of homegrown stars, Lakeville North can lay claim to an abundance of top talent. Sometimes Lakeville South seemingly has stockpiled all the best players.

While most years the talent seems to be pretty evenly dispersed, there are times when one side in one of high school hockey’s most heated rivalries — think Hatfields and McCoys on ice — gains a significant foothold. 

Times like 2015 when Lakeville North won the state championship to complete an undefeated season. Times like 2012 when Justin Kloos-led Lakeville South beat Duluth East 3-2 in a state quarterfinal in one of the biggest upsets in tourney history.

Times like … right now.

The Cougars return both their goaltenders, their top two defensemen and eight of their top 10 scorers from last season’s state tournament squad. And that’s not all. Several players from one of the state’s best Bantam AA squads are also likely to elbow their way into the varsity lineup next season, meaning expectations for the Cougars are at an all-time high.

There will be some significant skates to fill next season. Among the five seniors, forward Zach Oelrich led South with 43 points. Forwards Ries Calderon (8 goals, 9 assists) and Ryan Williams (6 goals, 8 assists) also played key roles. Top defenseman Caden Rubischko (4 goals, 9 assists) also departs.

The rest of the lineup is intact, starting with junior goaltender Cody Ticen, who posted some of the state’s best statistics (1.90 goals against average, .921 save percentage) while playing against a parade of top-ten teams. He’ll be a top candidate for the Frank Brimsek Award that goes to the state’s top senior goaltender.

The defense is in solid hands, too, with junior Nebraska-Omaha commit Griffin Ludtke (9 goals, 16 assists) joined by fellow junior Jack Malinski (9 goals, 15 assists). 

Cam Boche (37 points) and Cade Ahrenholz (18 goals) lead a star-studded cast of forwards that also includes junior 31-point scorer Jack Novak and freshmen phenoms Tanner Ludtke (a 17-point scorer also committed to Nebraska-Omaha) and Eli Miller, who tied for third on the team with 12 goals. 

Defenseman John Novak could provide immediate star power from Lakeville South’s Bantam AA team that reached the state tournament and was No. 5 in one season-ending set of rankings.

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