The Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League (USHL) drafted Lakeville North sophomores Ryan Poehling and Henry Enebak Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
The USHL is considered the top junior ice hockey league in the United States and is often a spring-board to playing at the college level. So would the two skaters really pass up this opportunity to stay at Lakeville North High School?
Both Poehling and Enebak confirmed to me that they would “forsure” be back to play for the reigning state champion Lakeville North Panthers in 2015-2016.
For Poehling, the first overall prospect drafted in the 2015 USHL draft, the decision was simple.
“Nothing beats high school hockey,” Poehling said. “It is the only time where you are playing for your school and more importantly playing with your buddies.”
Poehling’s older brothers Nick and Jack both stayed at Lakeville North through their senior year despite opportunities to head to the USHL and other places, earlier. Because of this decision to stay, the twin brothers led the Panthers to their first ever boys’ state hockey title, going an impeccable 31-0 in 2014-2015.
Now, both Nick and Jack play for the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers after completing their final high school hockey season. Ryan said that their success in staying definitely influenced him in his decision to remain a Lakeville North Panther next season.
“It all depends on people’s development,” the youngest Poehling said. “It won’t hurt you to stay in high school.”
Even though they won’t be leaving for the USHL this season, Enebak and Poehling are still elated to have this opportunity available.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in that league some day and now the dreams starting to become a reality,” Enebak said.
The two sophomores also are ecstatic that not only are they USHL draftees, they’re also both future Lincoln Stars, something they both had a feeling would happen leading up to the draft.
“(The Stars) are a fast hardworking team that has produced a lot of great hockey players,” Enebak said. “Their fan base Is incredible down there and will be a lot of fun spending time in the city of Lincoln for sure.”
Poehling echoed the same sentiment, saying that the Stars fans ‘pack the stands’, which not many junior teams do, according to Poehling.
Both Enebak and Poehling found a high-amount of offensive success in the team’s state championship season, finishing top five in points on a team filled with Division-I commits and future Division-I skaters. Despite their success at the high school level, Poehling knows that the USHL game is much different than high school hockey in the State of Hockey, something his brothers have imparted on him.
“It’s way faster, everyone is bigger,” the 6’1″ 185 pound sophomore said. “It’s hard to get in the zone with puck on your stick. You have to shoot way more if you want goals.”
While the state champion Panthers graduate all four defenseman, two first-line forwards and a multitude of supporting skaters, head coach Trent Eigner and his staff return some of their best young talent in Poehling and Enebak.
Expect both Poehling and Enebak to man the top line next season with either junior Max Johnson or junior Taylor Schneider joining them in the third spot.