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Name Game

By John King, 10/10/19, 7:30AM CDT

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Dissecting Elite League Talent on a First-Name Basis

Name Game

Dissecting Elite League Talent on a First-Name Basis


Coming to an Elite League rink near you: Cool Hand Luke.

I recently attended my first Upper Midwest High School Elite League game at the New Hope Ice Arena. I’m an empty nester now, so I’m quite looking forward to becoming “Uncle John” at the rink. A fixture, arms crossed, standing along the glass as I watch some of my buddies’ kids play this season. Maybe I’ll even wear a button.

I must say, the Elite League is something. All the scouts, coaches, and parents. The perfumed air. This isn’t the frosting on the cake—this is the frosting flower on top of the frosting on top of the cake. The specific game I went to had the United States Development Team U17s making a cameo appearance against the Mpls-St Paul Magazine team from the High School Elite League.

I grabbed a program to see who the other kids were on my buddy’s kid’s team. As I walked around the arena, it was clear there was no shortage of familiar last names in the building, including ex-NHLers Marty St. Louis and Brian Boucher watching their sons play for the USNDTP. Yes, there was plenty of pedigree with familiar last names like Bischoff, McAlpine, and Mittelstadt, to name a few. But as I glanced down the names in the rosters in the Elite League program, it was the first names that jumped out at me:

Easton
Gunnar
Thor
Sasha

Winter—That’s right, there is a top hockey prospect named Winter. That happened.

Finn
Kaleb
Duke
Dom
Brock
Axel


If your name is Thor, you better have a nice clapper from the point!

Holy hell, are those some hockey names! You can almost hear the saloon doors swinging open as you say them. And that was just scratching the surface. I decided to embark on a study of the most common first names of the hockey players playing in the Elite League. And, by embark on a study, I mean I made a spreadsheet (did I mention I’m an empty nester?). I tallied up all the first names from the eight Elite League rosters, being careful to add both Shattuck St. Mary’s prep team as well as the USNTDP U17s, and ranked the most popular first names in an Excel spreadsheet.

And now, without further ado, below are the top first names of the cream of the crop on display here in the State of Hockey this winter. I do this as a public service, because let’s be honest, you can’t pick your last name—you’re born with it. You’re born into your family, and sure, a few lucky ones are born into some NHL DNA. But what about the rest of us? Shakespeare famously wondered if, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet?” As it turns out, names don’t just matter to Romeo and Juliet, it looks like they matter to elite hockey players too. Making me wonder: Could the name you choose for your hockey player at birth have as much to do with him reaching the next level as his stride or mohawk turns? It appears so.

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