Teddy Blueger of Shattuck-St. Mary's had a goal and two assists in the championship game against Minnesota Red. Photo by Helen Nelson
Taking risks has never been an issue for senior forward Teddy Blueger of Shattuck-St. Mary’s.
At age 15 Blueger decided to uproot himself and travel across the ocean to hit the ice for Shattuck-St. Mary’s. The goal was to play against better competition in the sport he loved. Originally from Riga, Latvia, Blueger decided southern Minnesota was the best place for him to grow as a hockey player.
Now at age 17, Blueger is a key member of his team’s dominant offense that pulled out a 5-3 championship victory in the Bauer NIT on Sunday, Nov. 6, at New Hope Arena in New Hope.
In the second period, with his team up by a goal, Blueger decided to take another risk.
After catching a pass from teammate Ryan Schwalbe, Blueger dashed into the zone and cut to the middle of the ice, right into the teeth of the Minnesota Red defense. He split the two defenders, moved the puck to his backhand and flipped it over goaltender Bryan Nies of Grand Forks Red River to push the score to 2-0.
It was a bold, “in-your-face” type of goal that revved up both the crowd and his teammates.
Although his skill clearly transferred from Latvia, many things have been different for Blueger since he began living in the U.S.
“Life in general is just a lot different,” Blueger said. “Just how people go about their business. But I like it a lot here.”
Some of the differences he’s noticed have been on the ice as well.
“Intensity and the speed of the game,” Blueger said were very different in the U.S. “How hard guys work. The ice is definitely smaller, so the game is a little faster.”
During the course of the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League, Blueger racked up 26 points (8 goals and 18 assists) on a team that went 13-1-1. His distribution abilities are well known -- and much appreciated by his coach, Tom Ward.
Shattuck-St. Mary's senior Teddy Blueger, a native of Riga, Latvia, has been living in the U.S. since he was 15. Photo by Helen Nelson
“He sees plays, he sees people, and he’s a very deft passer," Ward said. "He sees the game in a way that most people don’t see the game.
"Teddy Blueger is a very, very, very skillful player. To his credit he’s a hard-working skill player, so if you’ve got a player that’s got skill and he’s a hard worker, then you got a chance to have a good player. Teddy’s really maturing as a player. His game is rounding out and he’s learning to play in his own end and be reliable all over the rink.”
Coach Ward was pleased with Blueger's performance, and his team’s performance as a whole, after winning the Bauer NIT title.
“Learning how to win championships is a learned trait,” Ward said. “I think you need to learn how to play when the cheese is binding a little bit and the pressure is on. And every game you can get in like this really helps.”
Shattuck-St. Mary’s is looking at the victory as a stepping stone to future success during the course of its long season.
“We are continuing to grow as a group, but we’ve got a lot of hockey to play," Ward said. "We haven’t even had a snowflake yet and we gotta play until the middle of April. I really like the way we’re playing after 20 games.”
Blueger was happy for a little revenge. Shattuck-St. Mary’s lost in the title game last season 5-4 to Minnesota White in overtime, something that didn’t sit very well with the team.
“It definitely means a lot going forward,” Blueger said.
--Walker Orenstein, MN Hockey Hub staff
1. Teddy Blueger, Shattuck-St. Mary’s
The senior from Riga, Latvia, scored a YouTube-worthy goal in the second period when he dashed through the Minnesota Red defense and added two assists – also in the second period – as he helped Shattuck-St. Mary’s build a 4-0 lead entering the third.
2. Max Becker, Shattuck-St. Mary’s
A forward from Orange, Calif., Becker, the lone sophomore on the Shattuck-St. Mary’s roster, scored twice. His second goal came on a power play late in the third period and gave Shattuck-St. Mary’s some breathing room after Minnesota Red had closed to within 4-2.
3. Grant Opperman, Minnesota Red
The senior from Breck was all over the ice, consistently creating offense with his speed and hustle. Playing on a potent line with Christian Horn of Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Dylan Steman of Maple Grove, Opperman assisted on Horn’s goal late in the third period.
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor
Teddy Blueger scored a goal and added two assists, all in the second period, to lead Shattuck-St. Mary’s past Minnesota Red 5-3 on Saturday, Nov. 6, in the championship game of the Bauer National Invitational Tournament at New Hope Ice Arena in New Hope.
Blueger, a senior from Riga, Latvia, split the Minnesota Red defense, froze goaltender Bryan Nies of Grand Forks Red River with a deke and scored on a rising backhand shot 4 minutes, 36 seconds into the second period to put Shattuck-St. Mary’s ahead 2-0.
Blueger added two assists in the second. He chased down a loose puck to negate an icing call, then fed Ryan Schwalbe for a goal to put Shattuck-St. Mary’s ahead 4-0 with less than 5 minutes remaining in the period.
Jake Guentzel of Hill-Murray and Jordan Gross of Maple Grove scored for Minnesota Red in the opening 4:55 of the third period to slice the Shattuck-St. Mary’s lead to 4-2. Gross’ goal came on a power play, and Minnesota Red went 1-for-6 with the man advantage.
Shattuck-St. Mary’s converted one of two power-play opportunities. That power-play goal came from Max Becker with 5:42 remaining and put Shattuck-St. Mary’s ahead 5-2.
Christian Horn of Benilde-St. Margaret’s closed the scoring with 2:12 remaining.
Nies stopped 25 of 30 shots while Kyle Hayton made 39 saves for Shattuck-St. Mary’s.
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor