Forced to pamper an injured shoulder, Ross Luedtke didn’t particularly enjoy strapping on the Sully Shoulder Stabilizer all of last season.
“They call it the sports bra from hell,” Luedtke, an Orono senior, said about the contraption. “It definitely hindered me this season, especially at first with stickhandling. It took me a while to get used to it.”
By the end of last season, Luedtke and his shoulder brace were working together in an unfathomably successful goal-scoring harmony.
Orono's Ross Luedtke scored hat tricks in three straight playoff games last spring. Photo by Adam Crane
Luedtke, who recently committed to play at the Air Force Academy, registered hat tricks in three straight playoff games. His third goal in the Section 2A championship game gave the Spartans a 3-1 third-period lead over Breck. Orono eventually lost to the Mustangs in overtime.
“I think we had our whole school there,” said Luedtke, who after the season underwent two surgeries to repair torn ligaments in his shoulder. “It was so much fun playing in that atmosphere. When I got that hat trick everyone was just going crazy.
“It really shows how special Minnesota hockey is, how fun those playoff games were.”
Luedtke had opened the playoffs with a hat trick in the Spartans’ 9-3 win over Providence Academy. Hat trick No. 2 came in the section semifinals in a 3-2 triumph over Blake.
“Going to school, especially after that Blake game, the hockey players were like celebrities,” Luedtke said. “It makes you want to keep playing.”
Luedtke, who scored 34 goals and added 36 assists in 28 games last season, will play at least one year of junior hockey before heading to the Air Force Academy. He will either play next season for the Coulee Region of the North American Hockey League or, depending on the interest level, in the United States Hockey League.
“No one ever would have guessed he played the whole year in a brace,” Orono coach Aaron Johnson said. “What he did for us and our program was incredible. I know he inspired a lot of our youth hockey players.”
Luedtke said his postseason scoring binge didn’t attract significantly more interest from college coaches. Air Force was the only Division I program that offered him a scholarship.
“It’s an incredible opportunity,” Luedtke said. “They are a great program. They are on the rise.”
|Name||High School||Year||Pos.||College||Verbal Commit|
|Jonny Brodzinski||Blaine||Senior||F||St. Cloud State||Yes|
|Patrick Daly||Benilde-St. Margaret's||Senior||D||Wisconsin||Yes|
|Steven Fogarty||Edina||Senior||F||Notre Dame||Yes|
|Tyler Heinonen||Delano||Senior||F||Michigan Tech||Yes|
|Garrett Hendrickson||Virginia||Senior||F||St. Cloud State||Yes|
|Bob Kinne||Cretin-Derham Hall||Senior||F||Bemidji State||Yes|
|Joseph LaBate||Holy Angels||Senior||F||Wisconsin||Yes|
|Ross Luedtke||Orono||Senior||F||Air Force Academy||Yes|
|Alex Lyon||Lake of the Woods||Senior||G||Yale||Yes|
|Justin Kloos||Lakeville South||Junior||F||Minnesota||Yes|
|A.J. Michaelson||Apple Valley||Junior||F||Minnesota||Yes|
|Bill Norman||Rochester Mayo||Senior||D||Maine||Yes|
|Kyle Rau||Eden Prairie||Senior||F||Minnesota||Yes|
|Brady Riesgraf||Holy Family Catholic||Senior||D||Bemidji State||Yes|
|Zach Schroeder||St. Thomas Academy||Senior||F||RPI||Yes|
|Nick Seeler||Eden Prairie||Senior||D||Nebraska-Omaha||Yes|
|Michael Sit||Edina||Senior||F||Boston College||Yes|