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A high ceiling

By MN Hockey Hub staff, 09/09/12, 9:42AM CDT


Eden Prairie forward Mason Bergh impresses in win over Team North

Team Northwest's Nate Erickson, right, scored two goals and found time to throw his body around in a 4-2 win over Team North. Photo by Helen Nelson

Team Northwest and Eden Prairie forward Mason Bergh

Potential. Upside. Room to grow.

These phrases were thrown around a lot last year for Eden Prairie and Team Northwest forward Mason Bergh.

Even as the second leading scorer for the Eagles in 2011-12, the senior forward struggled at times with staying consistent and had a habit of disappearing a few shifts per game.

In Team Northwest’s 4-2 win over Team North on Sunday, Sept. 9, at Fogerty Arena in Blaine, Bergh showed that those labels no longer fit him. He’s arrived.

In the first period, Bergh notched the opening goal – his second in three games -- when he flew down the right side, knocked a pass out of the air and flicked a shot upstairs for a bar-down score while right on top of Team Northwest and Grand Rapids goalie Hunter Shepard.

He wouldn’t score again, but his strong play was noticeable throughout the rest of the game.

Team Northwest's Mason Bergh of Eden Prairie looks for an opening to fire a shot against Team North. Photo by Helen Nelson

“A hard working, highly skilled player that just has a real high level of compete,” Team Northwest coach Pat Williams said after the game. “What I can tell you is he’s an all-around player, he plays the defensive side of the game and the offensive side of the game.”

In an exchange after the game, Williams saw Eden Prairie assistant coach Steve Olinger near the locker room and asked with a smile: 

“Hey, is this kid committed anywhere yet?!”

“Not yet, but he will be,” Olinger replied.

In his first full year in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League, Bergh is playing in an ideal spot for a player to work on his own game. At least six of his teammates from the Eagles are on Team Southeast, but none play for Team Northwest. Pushing him out of his comfort zone, Bergh has no choice but to try and stand out with unfamiliar teammates.

“I think there’s like nine guys from EP on Southeast so we played them last night,” he said. “I get the opportunity to meet new guys and that’s always fun because you get to play them in the season but I’d like to play with my buddies too.”

This summer, Bergh filled his time at camps for Waterloo and Tri-City of the USHL. Undrafted in the league, Bergh impressed the squads at open tryouts and they offered him a spot. Bergh chose the Elite League instead.

 “I think I bring some offense to the team – I’m creative,” Bergh said. As a junior last year with the Eagles, he netted nine goals and had 21 assists. “I play both ends of the ice well so I work hard a lot. I put the puck away and get creative with it.”

He also said losing to Robbinsdale Armstrong in a shocking first round upset in the sections playoffs last year motivated him to work harder, even though he was sitting on the sidelines at the time with a broken collarbone.

“It was terrible to watch, I wanted to go out there so bad,” he said. “I know Steven Spinner wanted to, he was hurt as well. That gave us the extra drive over the summer. We’ve all been working hard so we’re ready to go.”

-- Walker Orenstein, MN Hockey Hub staff

Summer break for Benilde-St. Margaret's Grant Besse

Team Northwest's Grant Besse of Benilde-St. Margaret's sat out Sunday's game with a cracked tibia. Photo by Helen Nelson

The only ice time Benilde-St. Margaret’s star Grant Besse saw in Team Northwest’s 4-2 victory over Team North was hobbling back and forth from the bench to the locker room.

Dressed in a hoodie, shorts, and a big ice pack wrapped around his knee, Besse sat on the sidelines throughout the game on Sunday, Sept. 9 at Fogerty Arena in Blaine.

Sunday afternoon, Besse insisted that he took a puck to the knee and was just bruised, saying he would be back next week. A few hours and an MRI later however, he found out he had a cracked tibia, setting him back six to eight weeks.

With the injury, Besse, A Wisconsin recruit, will continue having a quiet summer. Since he's too old for Team USA’s U-17 and U-18 teams and committed to not playing in the USHL, there's not much he can participate in outside of standard practices with the Red Knights. To stay sharp, Besse has been working out one-on-one with Jack Blatherwick three times a week at Parade Ice Arena. 

“Sprints and plyometrics and all the good stuff,” he said.

A calm offseason has been welcomed after Besse’s legendary performance in the state tournament championship when he scored all five of the Red Knight’s goals in the win. The game quickly elevated his status and his notoriety.

Even in the summer though, Besse still gets ribbed by his friends about it.

“Some of my friends, they kind of force it on me sometimes,” Besse said with a laugh. “We’re out somewhere they’ll yell my name at people. It’s kind of annoying but it’s whatever.”

In its first season as an Independent program, Benilde-St. Margaret’s will face a much tougher schedule than they had in the North Suburban.  Opening against Moorhead, Burnsville, Hill-Murray and Holy Angels – just a start – Besse will have his hands full once the season rolls around.

“Coach [Ken] Pauly knew we had some high-caliber guys and that if we didn’t have the schedule change, it wouldn’t be worthwhile to stay around…” Besse said. “I’m really looking forward to it. That’s why myself and my two linemates stayed with the team as seniors.”

Even with a tough schedule, expectations will be high for Besse and company. With the loss of Jake Horton, Jonah Johnson, and Christian Horn through graduation, new transfers Spencer Naas, Johnny Austin, and more will help him bear the load.

“I probably expect a little bit of pressure based on what happened last season and everything,” he said. “We have some high-caliber guys so it’s hard to focus on one player when everybody is pretty good.”

Beyond the hype, it seems like the key to Besse’s year ahead is simply having fun with his friends and being a high school kid. An admirable goal.

“Just enjoying senior year,” he said. “That’s the reason why I stayed, to be a senior to be with all the boys.”

-- Walker Orenstein, MN Hockey Hub staff

Team North's Lundgren hits top gear

Team Northwest's Thomas Lindstrom of Breck, left, and Charlie Curti of Mound-Westonka converge on Team North's Ryan Lundgren. Photo by Helen Nelson

Duluth East's Ryan Lundgren scored both Team North goals in a 4-2 loss to Team Northwest. Photo by Helen Nelson

Speed has always been an integral part of Ryan Lundgren’s game.
The burner from Duluth East comes fully supercharged and with a tachometer that always runs in the red.
Knowing he had the summer to prepare for his first foray in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League season, Lundgren naturally chose to focus on, of all things, gaining speed.
“You get caught from behind, you look stupid,” said Lundgren, a senior who spent most of last season playing with Mr. Hockey candidates and Division I recruits Jake Randolph and Dom Toninato. “I never want to be caught from behind.”
Through the opening weekend of the Elite League season, Lundgren has been a step – or more – ahead of the competition. He scored two goals and added four assists in three games. Both his goals came in Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Team Northwest.
“It’s fun. It’s fast. It’s everything I expected,” said Lundgren, who scored 51 points (16 goals, 35 assists) for the Greyhounds last season. “I have been training all summer for speed. I knew it was going to be fast, so I had to get faster.”
Lundgren has spent most of the summer playing on a line with Jack Forbort and Alex Toscano, both of whom were also selected to play for Team North. While those three will most likely form Duluth East’s top line this winter, Lundgren now finds himself skating with Hibbing’s Adam Johnson and Bemidji’s Matt Serratore.  
Statistically, that has been Team North’s most productive line, as Serratore has four points and Johnson three. All three share the team lead with two goals.
“Those guys have a lot of speed,” Lundgren said about his new linemates. “I like to play with speed, too. So we do a lot of chipping and create 2-on-1s. We get a lot of great opportunities.”
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor

Statistics, Summary

Game Recap

Maple Grove’s Nate Erickson scored twice, and Andover’s Chase Perry made 33 saves as Team Northwest beat Team North 4-2 on Sunday, Sept. 9, in an Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League matchup at Fogerty Arena in Blaine.
Erickson, who scored three goals and added 11 assists in 30 games last season for the Crimson, scored in the second period to tie the score at 2. He also had the only goal of third period. 
Benilde-St. Margaret’s Spencer Naas scored what proved to be the winning goal during a second-period power play. He converted a pass from Totino-Grace’s T.J. Roo.
Perry stopped two Team North breakaway chances in the second period and didn’t allow a goal over the final 35 minutes, 37 seconds.
Duluth East’s Ryan Lundgren scored both Team North goals, giving him six points in three games during the Elite League’s season-opening weekend.
Hunter Shepard of Grand Rapids and Dylan Parker of Duluth East split the goaltending duties for Team North, and each allowed two goals.
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor

Three Stars

1. Nate Erickson, Team Northwest
Erickson had a great knee-high goal on a beautiful shot and a top-shelf zinger to give him two goals in the game. The forward from Maple Grove scored his first one by converting a three-on-two while Team North was under a delayed penalty. The two goals were the junior’s first points of the season.

2. Ryan Lundrgren, Team North
The junior winger from Duluth East was all over the ice for Team North. With four assists in his previous two games, Lundgren has an impressive six points so far. He should be a regular contributor for Duluth East this year.

3. Chase Perry, Team Northwest
Perry made 33 saves, and didn’t allow a goal in the third period. He stifled good opportunities for Team North, earning the Andover goaltender the third star of the game. 

-- Walker Orenstein, MN Hockey Hub staff

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