Adding 2 inches and 10 pounds in a relatively short offseason is serious business even for a growing high school hockey player, and for Benilde-St. Margaret's sophomore forward Grant Besse (pictured) the emphasis on bulking up already is producing results.
Besse scored two goals and tallied an assist for Team Northwest in its wild 8-7 win over Team Northeast on Tuesday, Sept. 14, in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League, and he threw his newly added weight around while doing it.
“It was definitely a goal for me to get a little bigger,” said Besse, who checked in at 5-foot-9 and 163 pounds during the Elite League's offical training camp weigh-ins.
Playing on a line with Tim Bonner from Osseo and Benilde-St. Margaret's teammate Pat Steinhauser, Besse looks comfortable on the ice and it shows on the stat sheet -- he became Team Northwest’s points leader with four goals and two assists in four games.
“I play with (Steinhauser) all year at Benilde and (Bonner) has been a great compliment,” Besse said.
As a freshman at B-SM, Besse knotched 50 points (30 goals, 20 assists) and ranked third on the Hockey Hub’s Top 20 Freshmen list from the 2009-2010 season.
Besse is keeping an eye on the future. He’s already visited one WCHA team – Wisconsin.
As far as other visits, the heavily recruited Besse says he's open.
“I’m just taking them as they come,” he said.
With more big games during the Elite League and continued success during the varsity season, he can probably expect many more to come.
-- Mike Murakami, Hockey Hub staff
1. Jonny Brodzinski, Team Northwest
The senior forward from Blaine scored two of the prettiest goals of the night, which is saying something in an 8-7 shootout. He scored on a breakaway after stripping a defenseman of the puck and make a series of dekes then added a goal on a blistering shot from the left face-off dot.
2. Max Birkinbine, Team Northeast
A senior forward from White Bear Lake, Birkinbine scored twice and, in an illustration of his confidence level, performed some nifty stickhandling that included moving the puck in and out through his skates.
3. Grant Besse, Team Northwest
The sophmore from Benilde-St. Margaret's scored twice, added an assist and unveiled a physical side to his game that was rarely seen last season.
There was plenty of mixing, matching, shuffling and reshuffling of the forward lines, but here’s an idea of who was playing with who:
Ben Bahe-Jake Sampson-Zach LaValle
Comment: Bahe’s playmaking skills were evidenced by his three assists, and his Hill-Murray teammate Zach LaValle was on the receiving end of one of Bahe’s setups. Edina’s Sampson finished with a goal and an assist, and the often dominating line finished with a game-best eight points.
Eric Freschi-Peter Krieger-Dylan Steman
Comment: Maple Grove’s Steman had a nice game, notching a goal on an assist from Krieger, but otherwise this line of Elite League newcomers was held mostly in check.
Nick Turbitt-Lucas Kohls-A.J. Fossen
Comment: Another unit of first-year Elite League players, the Spring Lake Park tandem of Fossen and Turbitt, centered by Forest Lake’s Kohls, was held off the scoresheet.
Riley Colvard-Max Birkinbine-Brandon Wahlin
Comment: White Bear Lake’s Birkinbine scored two goals and is off to a great start to the Elite League season with six points in four games. Linemates Wahlin, also from White Bear Lake, and the physically imposing Colvard (6-foot-2½, 181 pounds) added two assists each for a line that was buzzing in the Team Northwest zone all game.
Jake O’Borsky-T.J. Roo-Garrett VanTuyl
Comment: A gritty line that can play a physical style was held off the scoresheet, although credit Benilde-St. Margaret’s O’Borsky (6-foot, 184 pounds) with at least a half dozen quality hits.
Grant Besse-Pat Steinhauser-Tim Bonner
Comment: Although all three of these players see the ice so well and are such good playmakers they all are probably best suited as centers, this combination has been incredibly effective. Benilde-St. Margaret’s Besse had two goals and an assist, Osseo’s Bonner had a goal and an assist and Steinhauser, also from B-SM, had two assists for a smooth seven-point night.
Mario Lucia-Tony Cameranesi-Christian Horn
Comment: Wayzata’s Cameranesi, with his scorching speed, really makes this line go. He and Wayzata teammate Mario Lucia really move the puck well, and the gifted Horn has a knack for finishing plays. Horn and Lucia each finished with a goal.
Ross Luedtke-Gage Torrel-Johnny Brodzinski
Comment: Blaine’s Brodzinski scored once on breakaway after stripping a defenseman of the puck at the blueline and later showcased his wicked shot on an upper shelf goal from the face-off dot. He got some help from the speedy Torrel of Monticello, who had two assists, and Orono’s Luedtke, who also had a goal.
In what has to be some sort of Elite League record, Blaine senior Jonny Brodzinski and his sophomore brother, Michael, scored back-to-back goals 2 minutes, 21 seconds apart in the second period.
Adding intrigue to the feat is the fact they play for different teams.
Johnny Brodzinski plays for Team Northwest while Michael Brodzinski suits up for Team Northeast.
Last winter Hill-Murray’s Ben Bahe (pictured) found himself on one of the state’s most dominant lines, playing alongside Wille Faust and Kevin Becker.
“I enjoyed it,” Bahe said with a grin.
These days, with Faust having graduated and Becker in the Elite League but playing for a different team, Bahe is proving he can help make any line effective, as he’s the Team Northeast scoring leader with seven points.
Bahe has been grouped mostly with Hill-Murray teammate Zach LaValle and Edina’s Jake Sampson, each of whom rank among Team Northeast’s top four in scoring.
“Me and Zach kind of play the same style, so it kind of works in our favor a little bit,” said Bahe, whose 38 points (15 goals, 23 assists) in 31 games last season ranked second on the Pioneers. “Having someone from your team on your line, you gell a little bit.”
Bahe, a senior who had a goal and three assists for Team Northeast in its 8-7 shootout loss to Team Northwest, said he’s receiving interest from several Division I schools, including Bemidji State, Colorado College, Maine and Minnesota State-Mankato.
“Some are more interested than others,” Bahe said. “I’m getting the feeling that they like me, but they have to make sure I’m exactly what they need. So I’m just going out there trying to do what I can.”
Matt Halverson of Wayzata, a junior defenseman who had one goal and four assists in 27 games for the Trojans last season, has been called up to play for Team Northwest.
Halverson had been playing the Elite Development League, where he had two assists in three games.
Junior defenseman Eli May of Eagan is another late roster addition, although he has played in all four of Team Northwest's games.
Grant Besse of Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Jonny Brodzinski of Blaine each scored twice to lead Team Northwest to an 8-7 triumph over Team Northeast on Tuesday, Sept. 14, in an Upper Midwest High School Elite League matchup at New Hope Arena in New Hope.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s Christian Horn scored the eventual winner in the back-and-forth (and back-and-forth) goaltender’s nightmare, as he put Team Northwest ahead 8-5 just 6 minutes, 33 seconds into the third period.
White Bear Lake’s Max Birkinbine scored twice, and Hill-Murray’s Ben Bahe had a goal and three assists to lead Team Northeast.
Birkinbine and Bahe each scored in the final 11:14 as Team Northeast pulled to within a goal.
A late penalty on Team Northwest, after Team Northeast pulled goaltender Blake Cates of Stillwater, gave Northeast a 6-on-4 advantage during the closing seconds.
Cates stopped 37 of 45 shots for Team Northeast.
Ryan Coyne of Maple Grove and Anders Franke of Elk River split the goaltending duties for Team Northwest. Coyne stopped 18 of 23 shots before giving way to Franke, who stopped 10 of 12 shots.