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Center Jake Jaremko of Elk River, Minn., has been selected as the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Boys Hockey Player of the Year.
The selections was made by David Darby of the Detroit Free Press with assistance from state hockey coaches associations and the NHL Central Scouting Department.
Link to USA Today website:
Jake Jaremko of Elk River/Zimmerman was selected as the Mr. Hockey recipient on Sunday at the St. Paul RiverCentre. The award goes to the top senior skater in Minnesota.
In its 31st year, the award was presented by the Minnesota Minute Men. The selection was made by a committee of National Hockey League Scouts, Junior scouts/coaches and select media members from around the state.
Jaremko, a member of the Star Tribune All-Metro team, led the Elks to the Class 2A, Section 7 championship game. He scored 25 goals and added 54 assists. He is committed to Minnesota State.
Jaremko was selected from a group of finalists: Jack Ahcan (Burnsville), Will Borgen (Moorhead), Dixon Bowen (East Grand Forks), Dylan Malmquist (Edina), Jack Poehling (Lakeville North), Nick Poehling (Lakeville North) Jack Sadek (Lakeville North), Peter Tufto (St. Thomas Academy) and Christiano Versich (St. Thomas Academy).
Also on Sunday, Dyllan Lubbesmeyer of Burnsville won the Frank Brimsek Award in recognition of the state’s top senior goaltender. Stephen Headrick of Breck was the other finalist.
Elk River hockey got two superb seasons from Matt Kiersted, but the junior defenseman has left the program a year early, with the blessings of his coaches and the good wishes of appreciative Elk fans.
That’s what often happens with elite skaters who aspire, as Kiersted does, “to make a career out of hockey.”
A Star Tribune All-Metro second-team pick, Kiersted has already joined Chicago of the USHL, along with senior teammate Jake Jaremko, to play the Steele’s last 12 games. They got into three games last weekend. Both will return to Chicago for the full season next year.
Matt Kiersted, all-metro defenseman for the Elks as a junior, has moved on already to the Chicago Steele of the USHL. (Photo by Bruce Strand)
Kiersted is continuing classes online and will finish the year at ERHS when hockey is done. Next year, he’ll complete his senior year online or attending a Chicago high school.
North Dakota, historically one of the best collegiate hockey programs, recruited Kiersted, and he verbally committed to them last summer. “They told me they like my skating style, and that I’m a more offensive player than most defensemen,” he said.
Said coach Gordie Roberts: “Matt has played on all the select teams. He is not a secret in the hockey world outside of Elk River.”
While bolstering the Elks defense, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Kiersted also notched nine goals and 32 assists on the Elks’ conference champion and section runner-up team that finished 22-5-4 and ranked No. 8 by Let’s Play Hockey. As a sophomore, Kiersted had six goals and 19 assists on an 18-6 team. In his two years, the Elks went 31-4 in the Northwest Suburban.
“Matt is a real good skater and good puck handling and shooting skills,” assessed Roberts. “Learning to see the ice and make quick decisions is a work in progress. With the puck on his stick he can make things happen. He is a kid who can’t wait to get on the ice. He has that extra level of passion, inner drive, you need to be really good.”
Kiersted played forward his first year of bantams but moved to defenseman his second year and stayed there. “I like it because you can see the whole rink.”
Physicality was the one concern while he was emerging as a standout in bantams, but he has toughened up in the weight room working with conditioning coach Mike Breyen the last two years. And he uses his head.
“I’m not as big as most defensemen,” Kiersted acknowledged. “The coaches teach me to be smart. Don’t go looking for someone to hit. Let them come to you and hit them.”
Elk River’s season and Kiersted’s prep career ended in stinging disappointment when they were upset by Duluth East 5-4 in double overtime in the section finals after leading 3-0. Kiersted, contacted in Chicago, said he wasn’t over it yet. “No. It’s still hard to comprehend.” But he was willing to pronounce it a successful season. “We won the conference,” he noted (the Elks’ first NWSC title since 2007), “and we got to the section finals.”
Lacking a state tournament, Kiersted said it was easy to pick his high school highlight: Hockey Day Minnesota last year when Elk River hosted the sports’ biggest regular-season event and beat Stillwater at Handke Pit before thousands of fans and a big television audience.
In Kiersted’s case, that won’t be the last time he plays on a big stage.
THE KIERSTED SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 16 …. Sport: hockey … Family: parents Bob Kiersted, Candace Hartwig; brothers Mitch, 20, Drew, 13 … Academics: 3.3 GPA … College: North Dakota, hockey, major undecided
Favorite stuff — Class: Nets and racquets in PE … TV show: “Lost” … Movie: “Miracle” … Music: country … Team: Kansas and Kentucky men’s basketball … Athlete: Duncan Keith, Black Hawks … Wants to visit: Fiji
See attached link for information on additional summer conditioning program through Strength Coach Breyen and staff.