MANKATO — The roster is filled with the usual suspects, players from Minnesota's high school hockey powers. There's Edina, Bloomington Jefferson and Benilde-St. Margaret's, to name a few.
But this year, there are a couple of head turners, a pair of outliers from southern Minnesota, who were chosen to participate in this year's Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League.
Mankato West's Derek Frentz and Tyler Jutting were selected for Team Southwest, one of six teams of all-stars who will participate in the fall league prior to the start of the regular high school season. Both are aware they're not necessarily coming out of a hockey hotbed.
"It's a great honor," said Frentz, who will be a senior at West. "It's good to know you can look down here (in Mankato) and find good players. It's cool, and it's a great opportunity. It's quite an achievement."
The league includes nearly 130 players from Minnesota and the Dakotas, along with a team from Wisconsin and Faribault's Shattuck-St. Mary's prep team, and has been a must-see for college coaches and professional scouts.
"It's different hockey than high school," Frentz said.
Said Jutting: "It will definitely increase our tempo of play."
Mankato has had just two other players participate in the league in the past — Mankato East/Loyola's Logan Wenzel in 2004 and West's Corey Leivermann in 2007. Both were seniors. Jutting, who will be a sophomore, is the first underclassmen from Mankato to earn a spot.
"A lot of top players from Minnesota get picked for that league," said Jutting, the son of former Minnesota State head coach and current Nebraska Omaha assistant Troy Jutting. "It will help to play in that league and get that experience."
Both players have ambitions of playing college hockey one day. Frentz has had tryouts with junior teams, including the North American Hockey League's Minnesota Magicians. In May, Jutting was selected by the Lincoln (Neb.) Stars in the fourth round of the United States Hockey League draft.
"That was a special moment," Jutting said of the USHL draft. "I'll probably never forget that."
While their play in the Elite League could help secure their junior and college futures, the two teammates aren't looking past the upcoming winter season with their hometown team.
Last year, Frentz and Jutting were keys to a successful Scarlets season that ended with a disappointing loss to Rochester Lourdes the Section 1A championship game.
Frentz, a forward, led West in scoring with 70 points, including 38 goals, in 27 games (including playoffs). His 63 points during the regular season led the Big Nine Conference and ranked 16th in the state. Jutting, a defenseman playing in his first varsity season, had 20 points, including four goals, in 28 games.
"For this year, my goal is to work as hard as I can and make the most of it," Jutting said. "I want to grow as a player and as a teammate and help the team as much as I can."
West coach Curtis Doell said that in 2007, Leivermann entered the high school season fresh out of the Elite League at the top of his game and that helped kickstart a campaign that finished with the Scarlets' first and only trip to the state tournament.
"It's a great opportunity for (Frentz and Jutting) to play with elite players," Doell said. "They'll be at their peak in November and December, not in January and February. They'll be playing at an elite level coming into the (high school) season."
Leivermann went on to play 2 1/2 seasons at Minnesota State before transferring last December to Gustavus Adolphus.
"(Frentz and Jutting) are getting looks," Doell said, "and that's an exciting part of the program."
The Elite League gets started Aug. 30-31 with a training camp in Blaine.