Dave Aus, now in his 14th season coaching Blaine boys’ hockey, has directed six state tournament qualifying teams and one Mr. Hockey recipient.
A new honor arrived last week — a No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press/Let’s Play Hockey rankings. None of Aus’s previous teams ever had held the top spot.
While topping the charts in December holds about as much use to hockey coaches as a broken stick, Aus addressed some benefits at a team meeting last Thursday before playing Osseo.
“I said, ‘It’s fine and dandy right now,’ and, ‘Congratulations,’ but it doesn’t matter until the end,” Aus said. “One thing it does do is give your opponents more juice, which I think in the long run, makes you better. So there is a benefit and there is some pressure. But this group needs that.”
In some ways, the No. 1 ranking is almost three years in the making. Standing outside a victorious locker room after the 2011 section finals, Aus predicted, “We’re going to have the best teams we’ve ever had here coming up.”
Strong skating and depth of skill define Blaine’s team. The top line of Tyler Cline, Joey Lau and Brandon Notermann garner attention. But the next group up — Dallas Gerads, Nic Simpson and Tyler Frischmon — more than hold its own. Sophomore Riley Tufte reminds Aus of former Mr. Hockey winner Nick Bjugstad. And all six Bengals’ defensemen log ice time.
“We like our team,” Aus said. “But if we’re not working hard and doing the little things we need to be doing, then we’re just like everybody else.”
Anoka’s Lundberg hits scoring milestone
Anoka senior guard Claire Lundberg surpassed 1,000 points for her career in an 81-74 victory against Elk River last week.
Lundberg, a 6-1 guard who signed to play at Seton Hall, also helped the Tornadoes put a scare into three-time defending state champion Hopkins. She finished with 10 points as Hopkins overcame a 33-25 halftime deficit to win 68-57. Fellow guard Kyrah Fredenburg, who is nearing the 1,000-career point plateau, scored 13 points against the Royals. Fredenburg signed with Concordia (St. Paul).