For Minnesota Red goalie Alex Lyon the end of the Bauer National Invitational Tournament and Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League season means the end of some long car rides.
The senior from Lake of the Woods high school lives in Baudette, which sits right on the Canadian border, and the nine weeks of Elite League and NIT games -- played mostly in New Hope -- have made for some long road trips.
“It's five and a half hours from Baudette to New Hope,” Lyon said, adding that his mother made all of the trips with him. “My legs get a little tired, but you get used to it after a while.”
The weekend the Elite League played in Grand Rapids was a short road trip, relatively speaking. “That was only two and half hours,” he said.
Lyon led the Elite League in save percentage (.930) and goals-against average (2.76), and said the experience was valuable.
“Playing up north, we savor playing against Warroad and Roseau, which are really fast games,” he said. “In this league, every game is played at a fast level. The first couple weeks were an adjustment, but I got used to it and it's a great experience. He said he's had conversations with several colleges “but nothing's serious yet.”
Blackhawks scout not flashing his bling
Among the 60-plus scouts in attendance for the Bauer NIT is Chicago Blackhawks amateur scout Jad Ramsay, who was impressing his fellow scouts a couple weeks ago by flashing his brand-new Stanley Cup ring.
With over 400 diamonds, emeralds and rubies, the ring is valued at more than $30,000. This weekend, however, he's not wearing it. Is it in a safe deposit box?
“No, I had to send it back,” he said with a laugh. “They misspelled my name and it has to be redone.”
Seems the engraver used the conventional spelling of “Ramsey” instead of “Ramsay.”
Underclassmen attracting interest
Many of the scouts in attendance are looking ahead to the 2012 and 2013 NHL drafts, because some of the better players in the NIT are too young to be drafted this year.
Minnesota White's Hudson Fasching, for example, is only a sophomore at Apple Valley high school. His Eagles teammate A.J. Michaelson is a junior. Appleton's Cliff Watson of Minnesota Red is on most scouts' radar, but he's only a junior at Appleton (Wis.) United.
One scout, however, disputed the notion that the “underagers” are where the talent lies.
“That's just how scouts are,” he said. “We always look at the underclassmen, but by the time they're seniors, we're looking at the underclassmen behind them.”
Scheid says Wisconsin OK with new format
In recent years, Team Wisconsin – which plays in the Elite League regular season – has fielded a Wisconsin team in the NIT as well. This year, however, the decision was made to instead select several Wisconsin players and have them play on the Minnesota Red squad. Former Badger Tony Scheid, who coaches Team Wisconsin, was selected to coach Minnesota Red, and said he's okay with either format.
“The NIT is a prestigious tournament,” he said, “and we jump at the chance to part of it. But we're supportive of whatever the league wants to do. We had six Wisconsin kids on this team and it was a great experience for them.”
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Tag(s): Around the State