Mahtomedi boys hockey coach Jeff Poeschl gave a telling remark Saturday afternoon as players on the freshly minted Class 1A state champion Zephyrs left the stage used for postgame interviews.
Poeschl watched his four players, who had endured a double-overtime victory against Warroad, gingerly descend the short flight of steps and said, "There's the sign of a champion. They have trouble getting down stairs."
Before the afterglow of a competitive and memorable state tournament fades, let's look at 15 players (nine forwards, four defenseman and two goalies) who give their teams the best chance at the 2023-24 state tournament and a walk down those postgame stairs.
A similar list of girls hockey players ran two weeks ago — with one key difference. Our headline said "Minnesota" instead of "metro area," and those details matter. So, with apologies to talented, omitted outstate players such as Mercury Bischoff of Grand Rapids-Greenway last week and Warroad's Carson Pilgrim this week, here is our way-too-early list — sure to change after player transfers and early departures.
Hagen Burrows, senior, Minnetonka
Jack Christ, senior, Chanhassen
Kamden Kaiser, senior, Northfield
Mason Moe, sophomore, Eden Prairie
Jackson Nevers, senior, Edina
Nolan Roed, senior, White Bear Lake
Jackson Rudh, junior, Park of Cottage Grove
Cooper Simpson, junior, Shakopee
Drew Stewart, senior, Benilde-St. Margaret's
Owen Buesgens, senior, Chanhassen
Joey Mugaas, senior, Orono
Eddie Revenig, senior, Edina
John Stout, senior, Minnetonka
Charlie Brandt, senior, Mahtomedi
Kam Hendrickson, senior, Chanhassen