One of just three players from Class A schools on the Team Southwest roster, Blake senior defenseman Ryan Bullock scored the final goal in what proved to be a 3-3 tie with Team Southeast in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League opener for both teams.
Bullock, listed at 5-foot-11½ and 173 pounds, is playing in the Elite League for the first time. Last season he scored nine goals and added 27 assists for Blake, which went 18-9-1, including a 5-1 loss to Breck in the Section 2A championship game.
“It’s very fast,” Bullock said about his first taste of Elite League play. “There are a lot of skilled players. Everyone can see the ice really well. You don’t see as many mistakes as you do during the high school season. I’m really impressed.”
The puck-rushing Bullock, paired with Edina’s Max Everson, scored in the third period after taking a feed from Everson at center ice and displaying some nifty stickhandling as he entered the Team Southeast zone.
“Pass him the puck and he goes all the way down and scores,” Everson said. “You can’t ask for anything more than that in your partner.”
Breck’s Wesley Iverson and Delano’s Tyler Heinonen, Team Southwest’s other Class A players, also scored.
The return of Bullock, who played his youth hockey in Eden Prairie, is one of the reasons Blake is expected to battle with Breck for the Section 2A title again this season.
1. Ryan Bullock, Team Southwest
A senior from Blake, Bullock scored the tieing goal early in the third period after making a series of nifty moves as he entered the Team Southeast zone. He was paired with Edina's Max Everson to form a formidable defensive duo. "I really liked playing with him" Bullock said about Everson. "He complements my style of play and I complement his. He's a really strong, stay-at-home defenseman and I have kind of an offensive flair."
2. Andrew Ford, Team Southwest
The senior goaltender from Eden Prairie made 30 saves, several of which came in dramatic fashion late in the third period when Team Southeast was on a 5-on-3 power play.
3. Michael Zajac, Team Southeast
Zajac, a junior from Eagan, registered an assist and had several good scoring opportunities while playing on a line that included Eagan teammate Will Merchant and Burnsville's Michael Dockry.
Team Southwest's Max Everson of Edina, one of the state's most coveted defensemen, said he has made visits to Harvard (his brother, Marshall, plays for the Crimson) and Yale and hopes to check out at least three more schools before deciding on where he will play in college.
Everson, a senior, said he's hoping to make recruiting visits to Nebraska-Omaha, Ohio State and the University of Minnesota this fall.
"My brother goes to Harvard, so that's obviously an attractive option for me," Everson said. "But I'm a Minnesota boy, my heart is with Minnesota. At (Nebraska-Omaha) they've got a good situation with Dean Blais as head coach and of course now they are in the WCHA.
"It's not easy making a decision, I'll tell you that."
Team Southwest's Michael Sit of Edina, perhaps the fastest player on the state Class AA championship Edina team loaded with speedsters last season, stood out as a player with an extra gear.
"He's our fastest guy," Team Southwest defenseman and fellow Hornet Max Everson said about Sit. "Especially in terms of quickness. He's always been like that."
Derek Frawley of Minnetonka gave Team Southwest another player with a noticable burst.
For Team Southeast, A.J. Michaelson of Apple Valley stood out as one of his team's top MPH skaters.
Team Southwest coach Reed Larson said he did a lot of mixing and matching with his forward lines, but there seemed to be at least some continuity with his combinations.
Here's an idea of who was playing with who for at least part of the game:
Steven Fogarty-Michael Sit-Tyler Heinonen
Comment: Fogarty and Sit are, arguably, the two most talented in a stable of high-end forwards returning to defending state Class AA champion Edina this season. Delano's Heinonen is a small-school player with a big game -- he looked perfectly comfortable playing with his Hornets' linemates.
Max Coatta-Derek Frawley-Thomas Schutt
Comment: The all-Minnetonka line had its moments, the most memorable of which involved Frawley barreling toward the net.
Jack McCartan-Kyle Rau-Tim Donohue
Comment: The highly anticpated debut of Rau, a top candidate for Mr. Hockey this season, didn't include any fireworks. He was solid on face offs but otherwise didn't stand out while playing with Eden Prairie teammate McCartan and Bloomington Jefferson's Donohue.
Wesley Iverson-Ryan Siiro-Jack Storo
Comment: Not a line you want to make angry. Iverson of Breck isn't afraid to throw his body around and Storo, at 6-foot-3, is a towering presence.
Hudson Fasching-Justin Kloos-A.J. Michaelson
Comment: Not a bad draw for Lakeville South's Kloos, playing with the two Apple Valley stars. Fasching threw his big body around often and Michaelson made good use of his above-average speed.
Michael Zajac-Will Merchant-Michael Dockry
Comment: Zajac and Merchant, Eagan teammates, showed their chemistry and combined to set up Dockry, of Burnsville, for a goal.
Robert Kinne-Tony Barbato-Cullen Hurley
Comment: It seems like the Cretin-Derham Hall combination of Kinne and Barbato have been linemates forever and it showed. Kinne scored on an assist from Barbato in the first period. They were joined, on a few shifts at least, by Holy Angels' Hurley.
A.J. Reid-Zach Schroeder-Kevin Becker
Comment: Another two-out-of-three combo with Reid and Schroeder representing St. Thomas Academy. Reid scored on an assist from Schroeder late in the second period. Hill-Murray's Becker completed the group.
Burnsville's Bodhi Engum, on the short list of top senior goaltenders heading into the high school season, took over for Team Southeast starter Charlie Lindgren of Lakeville North and finished with 14 saves on 16 shots.
"It's much faster than a regular season high school game," Engum said. "Good players, good goaltenders, it's a fun league."
Ryan Bullock of Blake, a defenseman playing in the Elite League for the first time, scored 3 minutes into the third period as Team Southwest forged a 3-3 tie with Team Southeast in the second of two games to open the league's season.
Team Southeast failed to score on a two-man power play late in the third period as Team Southwest goaltender Andrew Ford of Eden Prairie coolly made several point-blank stops.
Team Southeast got goals from Michael Dockry of Burnsville, Bob Kinne of Cretin-Derham-Hall and A.J. Reid of St. Thomas Academy as it held leads of 2-0 and 3-2.
Wesley Iverson of Breck and Tyler Heinonen of Delano also scored for Team Southwest.
Team Southeast's Bodhi Engum of Burnsville entered midway through the second period and finished with 14 saves. Team Southeast starter Charlie Lindgren of Lakeville North stopped 24 of 25 shots.
Ford finished with 30 saves for Team Southwest.