For most of his hockey career, Conor Andrle has been know as the playmaker for Breck.
He would stay on the outside and look to dish the puck to his teammates and allow them to garner the glory as a goal scorer.
Coming into his senior season, Andrle dedicated himself to getting bigger, so he could handle going into the trenches, where he could come away with the puck and maybe even score a few more goals.
"I've always loved to go into the corners and play behind the net," Andrle said. "For me to do that, I knew I had to get bigger or else that wasn't going to happen."
Andrle is not one of the bigger players on ice and his admitted weight gain over the offseason puts into perspective how small he once was.
Against Holy Angels on Thursday, Dec. 21, Andrle played as if he was bigger than what his physical stature is by going to the net for loose pucks, winning battles along the boards, but doing so without sacrificing his scoring touch.
"You can tell there's a difference in his physical play," teammate Wesley Iverson said. "He doesn't get pushed around anymore and he still can score, so it's not like all of this has taken away from that."
If anything, Andrle is finding ways to incorporate his knew style of play to what he has always been able to do.
Late in the third period, with Breck in complete control of the game, Andrle chased down the puck behind the Stars net, while the Mustangs were killing off a penalty.
He was able to out-muscle a Holy Angels defenseman, get the loose puck and have the mindset to immediately look for a teammate crashing down in the slot.
This time it so happened to be Thomas Lindstrom, who fired a shot by Stars goalie Danny DeGrace.
"That is just how Conor plays," Mustangs coach Les Larson said. "He's a little guy, but he doesn't play like it anymore."
On Andrle's two goals against Holy Angels, which currently give him five this season, he was no further than five-feet combined on both shot attempts.
His first goal, late in the opening period, was a rebound that was in the crease, where he was able to slap it in on a second effort.
In the second, he was able to score on a wraparound attempt.
"I just like to be around the net," Andrle said. "I always have and now I am seeing a difference that I can really play there."
If his physical play is not noticeable enough, teammates have seen some interesting assets this season.
Always known to have a good shot, Andrle's is much stronger and harder than it has been in the past.
"You can see his stick bend so much," teammate Keegan Iverson said. "He probably goes through 12 sticks a year."
Once, Andrle was just a kid that would spend his time stick-handling in his basement or garage.
Now, he has made himself into a player that can fit in anywhere on the ice.
"I remember we used to give him a hard time because he would spend so much time down in his basement," Wesley Iverson said. "Nobody does that to him anymore."
After a two goal, four assist night against Holy Angels, there isn't a reason to give Andrle a hard time anymore.
Wesley and Keegan Iverson are brothers.
Now in his senior season, Wesley will have one shot to win a state title and he will have that opportunity with his brother and it's not just that Wesley, a senior, and Keegan, a freshman, are on the same team.
They are on the same line as well.
"They get to have the experience that will last a lifetime," Larson said."Not many kids get to do what they are doing by playing on the same line as each other."
Last year Keegan played defense, so he did not have the chance to play on the same line, the top line for Breck, with his brother.
"It was a little different because he was back on 'D' last season," Wesley said. "He has adjusted well to the new position and it is a lot of fun to have him up there."
Forward is a new position and can be even more difficult for a freshman.
However, Keegan has adjusted nicely and his limited mistakes since taking over at right wing.
"Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that he is only a ninth-grader," Larson said. "He is playing a new position and doing so against opponents that are much older than he is."
If there is one piece of advice that Wesley can give to his younger brother, it is to convert on the passes he receives from him.
"He just needs to put away the backdoor plays that I set him up for," Wesley said. "I've set him up a lot."
"Oh man, my hands just turn to stone sometimes," Keegan said. "I just have to adjust and it will get better."
The Iverson's also benefit in playing with long-time family friend, Andrle,
"We have been playing together for a long time," Andrle said. "It is just a lot of fun playing with those two and to see what they can do every day."
Conor Andrle scored two goals and added four assists to help lead No. 1-ranked (Class 1A) and undefeated Breck to a 8-2 win over Holy Angels on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at Richfield Ice Arena.
Andrle's linemates, senior Wesley Iverson (two assists) and freshman Keegan Iverson, Wesley's younger brother (one goal, three assists) also were heavily involved in the onslaught as the line combined for 11 points.
Thomas Lindstrom also scored twice for the Mustangs (7-0-0) and added an assist. Nine Breck skaters recorded at least one point.
Trevor Meador scored the first Stars goal, putting away a rebound in the second period.
In the third, Tony Haeg scored on a breakaway, slipping a backhand between the legs of Mustangs goalie Jack Keeney.
Andrle scored just 1 minute, 15 seconds into the game to give Breck the early lead.
That would be the only goal the Mustangs would score in the period, but they came out strong in the second, scoring three goals in a span of 2 minutes, 58 seconds apart to give them a 4-0 lead.
Austin Rudnick fired a quick one-timer late in the second on the power play to send the Mustangs into the second intermission with a 5-1 advantage.
Joseph Oesterle scored on a wrist shot from the point that found the upper-corner to give Breck a 2-0 lead just 45 seconds in the second period.
Keegan Iverson banged in a goal from tight quarters and Andrle followed shortly after.
After Haeg scored for Holy Angels to open the third, Breck went back to work, scoring the final three goals.
Lindstrom put away his first of the game on an assist from Andrle.
In the middle of the third, Grant Opperman scored for Breck giving him a two-point night and 38 seconds later, Lindstrom put home his second on a nifty backhand play to beat Stars goalie Danny DeGrace.
Breck outshot Holy Angels 33-17.
DeGrace made 25 saves, while his counterpart, Keeney, stopped 15 of the Stars 17 shots.
Breck plays Apple Valley in the Silver Division of the Schwan Cup on Monday, Dec. 26 at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine.
Holy Angels (1-4-0) plays St. Thomas Academy in the Gold Division of the Schwan Cup on Monday, Dec. 26, at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.
1. Conor Andrle, Breck
A total of six points by Andrle helped Breck cruise to an 8-2 win against Holy Angels. He scored two goals, including the first one late in the opening period. His assists were impressive and hard working. His goals were of the blue-collar type, scoring in tight on both.
2. Thomas Lindstrom, Breck
Lindstrom was one of two Mustangs to record two goals against Holy Angels. Both of his goals were scored in the final minutes of the third period. The first came shorthanded, when he received a pass from Andrle in the slot. His second was all him when he took the puck to his backhand and slipped in a nifty shot to beat him.
3. Keegan Iverson, Breck
The freshman scored a goal and had two assists for the Mustangs. He was also great in the neutral zone where he was able to make a few nifty moves to elude the Stars. He has had the luxury of playing with his brother, Wesley, and linemate, Andrle, but he has been making the most of it. Keegan has been playing beyond his maturity level as he has adjusted to the new position.