Kuhlman gains experience with junior teamCloquet-Esko-Carlton hockey scoring sensation Karson Kuhlman is heading to Iowa this weekend to play a pair of games with the defending Clark Cup champion Dubuque Fighting Saints – the fourth and fifth games he’ll play with that team after the end of the high school hockey season.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
Cloquet-Esko-Carlton hockey scoring sensation Karson Kuhlman is heading to Iowa this weekend to play a pair of games with the defending Clark Cup champion Dubuque Fighting Saints – the fourth and fifth games he’ll play with that team after the end of the high school hockey season.
The high school sophomore played three games with the Tier I junior team two weeks ago – picking up an assist in a 4-1 win over the USA Developmental U-17 team and also taking the ice in a 3-2 win at Cedar Rapids and an 8-3 loss in Waterloo.
The USHL plays games on Fridays and Saturdays, with the USA matchup a rare Thursday night event.
“It was a really good experience,” Kuhlman said. “They (Dubuque) were pretty banged up. They needed someone to fill in for a couple of games and I’m glad I had the experience.”
Kuhlman – who led the ’Jacks in scoring this winter with 27 goals and 28 assists for 55 points – is the only sophomore in school history ever to have topped 100 career points, with 44 goals and 63 assists for 107 points.
Yet, he found the competition in Iowa a little more stern.
“The difference was the decision-making,” Kuhlman said of the competition. “I had to be quicker, I didn’t have as much time. It took me a good full game for sure to get used to it. Then I started to feel more comfortable.”
Minnesota high school players are allowed to play six games a season with a junior team, and home games this weekend against last-place Muskegon and the sixth-place USA Developmentals will bring Kuhlman’s total to five.
“Some players play their games in the spring, while others go in the fall to get ready for the season,” Kuhlman said.
Kuhlman went with the full blessing of ’Jacks coach Dave Esse, who knows he’ll get a better player next winter as a result.
“Obviously, I don’t want him to get hurt, that’s my main concern,” Esse said. “The game is a lot different down there. He played a good series of games last time and he’s obviously a good player.”
Esse said he couldn’t remember any other CEC player taking part in a juniors’ season during his coaching career.
“Kids do it sometimes but they haven’t done it from here because they’ve played spring sports and other things,” Esse said. “The improvement we’ll see is in a player who will move better without the puck. They are all good down there, and they move the puck quickly.”
For his part, Kuhlman is excited for next winter’s high school season.
“We have a lot of skill coming back and a lot of returning players who can score,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Kuhlman says he’s not taking part in track this spring as he did last year at Esko.
“I’m just working out and getting ready for next hockey season,” he said.
Dubuque is 31-19-4 this season, which is good for fourth place in the eight-team loop.