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Blaine’s Riley Tufte draws comparisons to former Bengal and NHL winger Nick Bjugstad.

Concern about whether Blaine standout Riley Tufte would win Mr. Hockey was far from the mind of Bengals coach Chris Carroll.

All season long, whether ringing Carroll’s cellphone or showing up at practice, NHL scouts confirmed Tufte was something special.

“I don’t know many NHL teams I didn’t talk to,” Carroll said. “It sounds like he’s a surefire first-rounder.”

Tufte received the Mr. Hockey award Sunday at the St. Paul RiverCentre, given to the top senior skater in Minnesota.

“Seeing all the guys that have played beyond college that have won Mr. Hockey is awesome,” said Tufte, a 6-5, 220-pound winger and a projected first-round NHL draft pick in June. “It’s very exciting for me and my family.”

Tufte led the metro area this season with 49 goals, added 36 assists and relished taking a leadership role. A top scorer and model teammate, Tufte was previously named the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year. He committed to Minnesota Duluth.

Tufte draws comparisons to Nick Bjugstad, a budding star with the Florida Panthers. Both were tall, blond forwards who wore No. 27 while at Blaine. They are both Mr. Hockey winners as well. Bjugstad got the award in 2010.

In its 32nd year, the Mr. Hockey award is presented by the Minnesota Minute Men. The selection was made by a committee of NHL scouts and junior hockey scouts and coaches plus media members.

Tufte was chosen ahead of finalists Wyatt Aamodt (Hermantown), Chase Ellingson (Breck), Will Garin (Holy Family Catholic), Cade Gleekel (Benilde-St. Margaret’s), Michael Graham (Eden Prairie), Tyler Jette (Farmington), Mitchell Mattson (Grand Rapids), Luke Notermann (Blaine) and Casey Staum (Hill-Murray).

Nick Althaus of St. Cloud Apollo won the Frank Brimsek Award, which honors the state’s top senior goalie. The other finalist was River Alander of Duluth Denfeld.

Mr. Hockey Award Winners

YEAR PLAYER SCHOOL POS.
1985 Tom Chorske Minneapolis Southwest LW
1986 George Pelawa Bemidji RW
1987 Kris Miller Greenway, Coleraine D
1988 Larry Olimb Warroad C
1989 Trent Klatt Osseo RW
1990 Joe Dziedzic Minneapolis Edison LW
1991 Darby Hendrickson Richfield C
1992 Brian Bonin White Bear Lake C
1993 Nick Checco Bloomington Jefferson LW
1994 Mike Crowley Bloomington Jefferson D
1995 Erik Rasmussen St. Louis Park LW
1996 Dave Spehar Duluth East F
1997 Aaron Miskovich Grand Rapids C
1998 Johnny Pohl Red Wing C
1999 Jeff Taffe Hastings C
2000 Paul Martin Elk River D
2001 Marty Sertich Roseville C
2002 Gino Guyer Greenway, Coleraine C
2003 Nate Dey North St. Paul F
2004 Tom Gorowsky Centennial C
2005 Brian Lee Moorhead D
2006 David Fischer Apple Valley D
2007 Ryan McDonagh Cretin-Derham Hall D
2008 Aaron Ness Roseau D
2009 Nick Leddy Eden Prairie D
2010 Nick Bjugstad Blaine C
2011 Kyle Rau Eden Prairie C
2012 Justin Kloos Lakeville South C
2013 Grant Besse Benilde-St. Margaret's LW
2014 Avery Peterson Grand Rapids C
2015 Jake Jaremko Elk River F
2016 Riley Tufte Blaine LW

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