Team Northeast defenseman Blake Heinrich of Hill-Murray fires a shot on Team Northwest goaltender Nick Malvin of Blaine. Photo by Helen Nelson
Nobody likes getting hit, especially not the way Team Northeast’s Blake Heinrich of Hill-Murray absorbed a body-crunching blow.
In the second period of Team Northeast's 7-4 victory over Team Northwest on Tuesday, Oct. 4, Heinrich got shoved up, over and into Team Northwest’s bench by Austin Rudnick of Breck, causing some embarrassment and good-natured ribbing.
Shaking off the hit, Heinrich quickly responded with a bang. Make that multiple.
“I was a little [mad] after that, but I got him back,” Heinrich said after the game with a chuckle.
After absolutely laying out Team Northwest forward Christian Horn of Benilde-St. Margaret's, Heinrich continued to deal out punishing hits all night at New Hope Ice Arena in New Hope.
“That’s pretty much our main goal,” Heinrich said of the hitting. “That’s my strongest asset of my game. That’s what I like the most.”
Hill-Murray lost defensemen Kevin Schulze, Andrew Herlofsky, Jonah Johnson and Travis Wood to graduation, transfers to new schools and departures to new leagues, leaving Heinrich as the Pioneers' only returing defenseman.
He has been using the Elite League to prepare himself to lead Hill-Murray's depleted blue line corps.
“It’s really fast," he said of the Elite League. "I don’t think it’s going to be as fast during the high school season, but it's great preparation.”
Besides noting that he has been working on his speed and his shot, Heinrich also mentioned that the biggest key to Team Northeast’s successful season so far has been its veterans in the locker room.
“We have a lot older guys,” Heinrich said.
Heinrich will have to transfer his Elite League experience into the high school season if the Pioneers hope to rebound from their crushing double-overtime loss to White Bear Lake in the Section 4 championship game last season.
“We aren’t going to be as strong as we usually are, but we’ll have a good team,” Heinrich said. “Should be tough playing with all the younger guys, but I think we can do it.”
Heinrich contributed two assists in Tuesday’s game to go along with his punishing hits. He even set up Stillwater rival and Team Northwest teammate Cody Corbett for a lightning-quick slapshot from the point in the third period.
“I think our toughest competition will be Stillwater this year,” Heinrich said when asked about playing alongside his rival. “Corbett’s a great player, he’s got the hardest shot ever. I like to get the assists off of him.”
Heinrich has been recruited lightly by Wisconsin, Michigan Tech, and Minnesota State. He said his focus is on the high school season, not what is beyond.
“We just want to make it to state this year,” Heinrich said.
--Walker Orenstein, MN Hockey Hub staff
Jay Dickman of St. Paul Johnson shares Team Northeast's scoring lead with 15 points. Photo by Helen Nelson
Playing in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League is a tough enough challenge for anyone.
For St. Paul Johnson senior forward Jay Dickman, the trip to the Elite League was a long and painful one.
“I played in the (Development League) two years in a row and I broke my back sophomore year,” Dickman said. “It took me four months to recover in a body cast and get my body back.
“It slowed me down. I had to do everything I could to play my junior year and I played really well. I had a lot of help for my teammates. It's been a grind trying to get back into shape and get my back fully recovered.”
During the 2010-2011 season, Dickman’s hard work resulted in 44 points (29 goals, 15 assists) and has now landed him on Team Northeast.
“It’s been really fun,” Dickman said on playing in the Elite League. “Kids here just work together and it's been a lot of fun. Everyone is getting points now.”
While his teammates may be getting points, they’re all looking up at Dickman who is currently tied for the team scoring lead with 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 13 games.
That scoring ability may seem surprising for the 6-foot-5, 240-pound forward whose build seems better suited for guarding the blue line.
“I've always played forward,” Dickman said. “I got big and then I just keep getting bigger and bigger. It's mostly just power forward, go hard to the net, play in front of the net and then shoot it -- my coach likes me to shoot.”
With the offensive-minded mentality and additional offseason training, expect to see similar results when St. Paul Johnson takes the ice for the 2011-2012 season.
“It's going to be great,” Dickman said. “I’m getting used to the speed (in the Elite League) and I can help the all the kids at my school. We're solid right now, we have every single player back except for our goalie.”
In addition to the Elite League experience, Dickman says he has no plans to stop working in the offseason.
“I train pretty much every single day,” Dickman said. “Monday, Wednesday and Friday I lift and Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday I run. I'm trying to drop a little weight and get my legs stronger. I've also been working with Jack Blatherwick and he's been working on my stride -- trying to get me faster.”
Provided Dickman continues putting pucks in the net and points on the board, he can probably expect to hear from coaches and scouts when it comes time to choosing post-high school plans. For now, that’s not a concern.
“I don't know, my coach does all that for me,” Dickman said about talking to recruiters. “He tells me not to worry about it. It's not in my head, I don't care. I don't want to get over myself. I’m playing to play, it's the game I love.”
-- Michael Murakami, MN Hockey Hub staff
1. Zach LaValle, Team Northeast
A Hill-Murray junior, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound LaValle scored a second-period goal and added an assist on Cody Corbett’s game-winner in the third. LaValle was around the puck all night, proving particularly pesky for Team Northwest’s defensemen.
2. Blake Heinrich, Team Northeast
The hard-hitting Hill-Murray junior was sent over the boards and into the Team Northwest bench by Austin Rudnick of Breck in the second period, but Heinrich got the better of most all of the rest of his physical confrontations. One of the 5-foot-10½, 187-pound Heinrich’s favorite targets, it seemed, was Christian Horn of Benilde-St. Margaret’s.
3. Connor Thie, Team Northwest
The 5-foot-7, 143-pound Minnetonka junior scored a goal, added an assist and didn’t seem bothered in the least by the game’s physical play. Thie, who played at Hopkins last season, has six goals and four assists in 12 games.
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor
Cody Corbett of Stillwater scored the winning goal on blistering slap shot on a power play midway through the third period as Team Northeast surged past Team Northwest 7-4 on Tuesday, Oct. 4, in an Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League matchup at New Hope Ice Arena in New Hope.
Charlie Sampair of Hill-Murray and C.J. Franklin of Forest Lake also scored in the third period for Team Northeast, as it outscored Team Northwest 3-1 in the final period to break open a back-and-forth game and grab sole possession of second place in the league standings.
Team Northeast, which has lost just one of its last nine games, has 17 points, two more than Team Northwest and four behind Team Southeast.
Team Northeast’s Jay Dickman of St. Paul Johnson scored his team-best eighth goal, and Dylan Steman of Maple Grove and Franklin each scored their sixth of the season.
Zach LaValle of Hill-Murray and Bo Brauer of Edina also scored for Team Northeast, which trailed 3-2 early in the second period before goals from Steman and Brauer in the final 5 minutes, 5 seconds of the second period gave it a 4-3 lead heading into the third.
Brauer, a junior called up from the Minnesota Eliite Prep Development League, has two goals in three games.
Dylan Lambert of Blaine, Thomas Lindstrom of Breck, Connor Thie of Minnetonka and Sam Majka of Wayzata scored for Team Northwest.
Team Northeast goaltender Blake Cates of Stillwater made 25 saves to earn the victory. Team Northwest goaltender Nick Malvin made 27 saves.
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor