It may have taken Mittelstadt at least 35 minutes in both games this weekend to get revved up offensively, but once he did he was well worth the price of admission.
Friday night the 6-1 center had two goals and an assist in the third period to pace Green Bay to 4-1 win. Tonight, versus those same Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, Mittelstadt once again provided scouts with what they came to see, taking a pass in the slot, beating the defenceman with quickness and a skilled deke, then schooling his defence partner with a precision backhand pass through the helpless defender’s legs right to a wide-open Easton Brodzinski for the gimme goal 35 minutes into the game. A little over a minute later Green Bay went on the power play and Mittelstadt dished the puck to Dante Palecco for a one-timer from the blueline that paced Green Bay to an insurmountable 4-1 lead heading onto the final period.
A mere five points in his ceremonious weekend reunion to lead the fourth-place Gamblers out of the doldrums and most likely back into contention for a Clark Cup. He has 18 points (7-11–18) in his last 10 USHL games, and more importantly has reminded his old teammates of the competitiveness/commitment needed to win late-season games. Here he is the returning “prodigal son”, and he ends up working as hard as any of the team’s pluggers thanks to his non-stop motor and will to win.
If there was concern that playing high school hockey at 18 lessened his competitive edge, this weekend was a sound reminder of the impressive combination of skill, smarts and work ethic that make him a strong candidate to go top five in the NHL draft.