09
Jan

Alexis Crossley wins Gold for Canada

CANADA BEATS USA FOR GOLD

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ZLIN, Czech Republic _ Canada won gold at the under-18 women’s hockey championship on Saturday with a 3-0 victory over the United States.

Alexis Crossley of Cole Harbour, N.S., Sarah Lefort of Ormstown, Que., and Cydney Roesler of Stittsville, Ont., scored and Emerance Maschmeyer of Bruderheim, Alta., made 28 saves for the shutout.

“I like shutouts a lot,” said head coach Pierre Alain. “So 3-0 was like the cherry on the cake.”

Crossley scored on a rebound at 9:04 of the first period and Lefort tallied on the power play at 14:03. Roesler’s insurance goal in the third period also came with the man advantage.

Alain said he was also pleased with his team’s play in the defensive end.

“We knew today we’d have to work in our end,” Alain said. “We came through. It was a great team effort.”

Defenceman Erin Ambrose of Keswick, Ont., said it was an amazing feeling to beat the defending champions.

“I don’t know if I’ve seen a group of girls so happy,” she said. “There are tears and smiles, there are hugs everywhere right now _ it’s incredible.”

American goalie Brianna Laing made 13 saves. Her coach, Heather Linstad, called it a disappointing result.

“I thought our team had great team chemistry,” Linstad said. “We worked really hard and created many scoring opportunities but couldn’t find the back of the net.”

Canada and the United States have dominated this event, meeting in the final at all four previous championships.

The Americans won gold on three occasions while Canada’s other title came in 2010.

04
Jan

Teodors Blugers interview at World Junior Hockey Championships 2012

Teodors Blugers interview at World Junior Hockey Championships 2012

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Teodors Blugers interview at World Junior Hockey Championships 2012

Lativia’s #21 Teodors (Teddy) Blugers is a potential latter round 2012 NHL entry draft pick. The centreman  plays for Shattuck St. Mary’s, a high school in Minnesota, for which he has scored 33 points in 20 games so far this season.

The school has some obvious high-end alumni including Sidney Crosby,Zach Parise, Jack Johnson, Drew Stafford and Jonathan Toews.

He is a solid two-way player with a strong work ethic. I had the opportunity to talk with him after they lost 14-0 to Russia in round robin play at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

While he has just 1 assist in 4 games thus far at this year’s tournament, keep in mind just how difficult it is for a first year draft eligible prospect to make an impact at this level. Fellow Shattuck alumni Toews, for instance, had just 2 assists in 6 games in this first championship.

Shattuck-St. Mary’s School – Center of Hockey Excellence

Back in July of 2010, The Hockey Writers took a closer look at the hockey factory that is Shattuck-St. Mary’s:

In 1993, seeing the possibility of growing the school population through an accelerated hockey program, Director of Hockey Craig Norwich convinced the powers-that-be to leave the Minnesota High School Hockey League and strike out on its own.  All high school hockey in Minnesota is community based; if you live in Edina, you play in Edina.  The uniqueness of SSM’s program (the boarding school aspect, players from across the world, 50-70 game schedule) allows Shattuck to register with USA Hockey as the only non-community-based Minnesota team and consequently to represent the state in the USA Nationals playoffs every year.

The program looks for specific types of individuals when evaluating which hockey prospects are right for their school. This certainly speaks to the character of Teddy Blugers.

Tom Ward was named Director of Hockey four years ago. Asked what he looks for in a young prospect, Ward had some very straight advice:

“A candidate for our program must first be a person of good character; have a passion for the game; and understand that the environment here is unique.  He has to be willing to put in the effort it takes to be the best he can be.  It is a full day here.  His chemistry teacher will expect him to be fully present when he is in class and we will expect the same when he hits the ice.  Our expectations are very high.  We have high standards for a kid entering the school and once he has arrived in the program, we like to create an atmosphere here for him to grow that talent, to reach his potential as an athlete and as a member of the community.”

The well-spoken Blugers attended English schools in Latvia growing up.

Interview

Chris Ralph: What  path did you take to get to Shattuck St. Mary’s?

Teddy Blugers: I was looking for somewhere in North America and I went and toured a bunch of East Coast prep schools and also toured Shattuck. I liked Shattuck the best and so glad I made the decision to go there. I love it there. I thought it was the best fit for me to work on and develop my game. They also have some pretty good alumni!”

CR: It was a pretty tough loss tonight, but you and your team have had some impressive moments in the tournament so far, such as battling Slovakia until the very end. The local fans have also taken a liking to your team. What positives have you taken from the tournament at this point?

Blugers: It’s a great experience and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Obviously it was a disappointing performance tonight, but hopefully we can learn from our mistakes moving forward. It’s been unbelievable.  Hockey is such a huge deal here. To get be treated very well,  it’s been a great experience so far.

CR: I couldn’t help but notice your prowess in the face-off circle. (I later discovered Blugers won the award for best face-off percentage (68.75%) at the 2010-11 WJC U18s D1A tournament. For round-robin play in this WJC, Teddy finished 20th overall for best face-off percentage; definitely a strong showing for a 17 year-old.)

Blugers: No, not really. I try to work on it when I get a chance. I guess I’ve played centre all my life so I’ve naturally taken a lot of face-offs and therefore have the experience which helps.

CR: Any significance to your jersey number “21″?

Blugers: Yeah – I’ve always worn it growing up because I idolized Peter Forsberg.

CR: That answers another question. Any current NHLer you pattern your game after?

Blugers: Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit Red Wings). He’s one of the best players in the NHL obviously. He’s unbelievable. His skill level and the way he plays the game is fantastic.

CR: Do you have any particular post-game activities?

Blugers: Soccer is a good way to get worked up and to cool down before and after practices and games.

CR: What’s your plans for next year – still NCAA?

Blugers: Next year I’m heading to Minnesota State University (Mankato) in the NCAA?

CR: Any thoughts on playing in the CHL?

Blugers: No, I haven’t really thought about that at this point.

CR: You were drafted in the second round in the KHL. I consider you a sleeper for the 2012 draft? Does the NHL entry draft enter into your thoughts as all?

Blugers: Not really – I have to keep playing well. Hopefully, it all works out, but it’s really up to me on how my game develops.

One-Timers:

Dean Millard of Coming Down The Pipe dubbed Blugers a wild card for Team Latvia:

Teodor Blugers is a 17 year old centre who was born in Riga, Latvia but developed in North America. He’s currently in his 3rd season with Shattuck St. Mary’s prep school where he’s torching things up with 33 points in 20 games. Next year he’s set to join Minnesota State University (Mankato)at the 2010-11 WJC U18s D1A tournament. Blugers is also 2012 draft eligible.

Alessandro Seren Rosso of Hockey’s Future in his preview of Team Latvia noted:

Forward Teodors Blugers is having a very solid season in the USHS with Shattuck St. Mary’s as he scored 33 points in the 20 games played so far. Blugers pretty much fell behind the radar until now. It wouldn’t be much surprise if a team uses a late round pick on him in the 2012 Draft, considering his skills level and the very good season he is having this year.

Shots From The Slot:

  • Teodors had 5 points (4 G, 1A) in 4 games for Latvia at the 2010-11 WJC U18s D1A tournament and was tied for most goals in the gold medal winning performance by Latvia.
  • Blugers was drafted 39th overall in the 2011 KHL draft.

***

Check out our World Junior Championships Viewers Guide 2012 Edition as more articles will be added highlighting team previews, players to watch, predictions and other unique and exclusive coverage. (Home Page Link)

***

Follow on Twitter for plenty of updates leading up to and during the tournament: @ChrisRalphTHW

Chris’ main focus is on the future of hockey – the prospects and the NHL entry draft. As well as being THW’s residential prospect and draft analyst, he also covers the Calgary Flames and writes hockey book reviews. Check out his website: “The Next Ones – from the files of The Hockey Spy”.
03
Jan

Shattuck Boy's Prep Wins the Gold @ WSSC in Calgary, AB Canada

Submitted by Faribault Daily… on Mon, 01/02/2012 – 22:41

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Brendan Burnett-Kurie,
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GOALS: Zach Stepan 7, Hunter Fejes 7, Willie Raskob 5, Tyler Vesel 4, Noah Henry 4, Truman Reed 3, Jake Montgomery 2, Carter Lukenda 2, John Draeger, Nick Petrella, Brodie Decker, Max Becker, Sebastian Lemm, Blake Barnes.

ASSISTS: Petrella 8, Montgomery 7, Stepan 6, Vesel 6, Draeger 5, Raskob 5, Zach Aman 5, Henry 4, Fejes 4, Decker 3, Lukenda 3, Barnes 2, Tyler Schwalbe 2, Becker 2, Matt McArdle.

POINTS: Stepan 13, Fejes 11, Raskob 10, Vesel 10, Petrella 9, Montgomery 9, Henry 8, Draeger 6, Lukenda 5.

Willie Raskob scored a hat trick as the Shattuck-St. Mary’s boys prep hockey team avenged an earlier loss to Finland to capture the inaugural gold medal at the World Sport School Challenge in Calgary, Alberta.

Just two days after losing 4-3 to the Fins, the Sabres (32-4-1) came back with a 5-3 win in the gold medal game on Saturday, their third-straight win in an elimination game. Despite going just 1-2 in pool play, the Sabres got hot at the right time and rode a wave of goal-scoring to win the first-year tournament.

“We were on the puck all week from game one to game six,” said SSM assistant coach Des Christopher, who was coaching for Tom Ward. “The guys played very, very hard and worked together as a group. We played very well offensively in this tournament.”

Finals SSM 5, Finland 3

The Sabres fell behind 1-0 in the first period before Raskob, a defenseman, scored his natural hat trick, including goals just 57 seconds apart spanning the first and second periods. All three of Raskob’s goals came on the power play.

“Willie is a very skilled player,” Christopher said. “He understands the offensive side of the game. We activate our defensemen and give them the opportunity to jump in on the rush when it’s available and he was able to do that.”

Zach Stepan put SSM up 4-1 before Finland scored two goals to pull within one with 16 minutes to play. Hunter Fejes added an empty netter in the final seconds.

“They’re a very good hockey team and it was going to be close either way,” Christopher said. “I think we got a couple of bounces and a couple of breaks. Our power play was clicking very well.”

The Fins had come into the game 4-0 in the tournament and had out-scored their opponents 36-7. The Sabres had success in mixing up their penalty kill.
“We haven’t seen that team before and we noticed they were doing some different puck movement and we decided it was better to change our rotation in the box,” Christopher said.

Semifinals SSM 7, Slovakia 5

For the second time at the WSSC the Sabres took down Slovakia. Thanks to seven different players scoring — and two other notching assists — SSM built a 7-3 lead with 20 minutes to play behind four second-period goals.

The Sabres scored twice in the opening five minutes, then after Slovakia tied it at 2-2 the Sabres scored five straight times. Hunter Fejes had a goal and two assists and Noah Henry, Tyler Vesel and Stepan each had a goal and an assist. Anthony Brodeur made 21 saves as SSM out-shot Slovakia 68-26.

Quarterfinals SSM 12, POE 0

There wasn’t much excellence from the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy as Shattuck peppered the net with 71 shots and 12 goals, including a hat trick from Fejes.

SSM scored four times in the first period, five in the second and three in the third. They scored eight times on 10 power plays. Noah Henry had two goals and an assist and Carter Lukenda had three assists. Brodeur had an 18-save shutout.

Pool play

The Sabres opened pool play on Dec. 26 with a tough 7-5 loss to Okanagan Hockey Academy. After SSM jumped out to a 3-0 lead, Okanagan tied it up with three second-period goals. Fejes tied the game at 5-5 with 2:54 to play, but Okanagan’s Joseph Hicketts scored the game winner with 1:36 to play.

“We probably played one of our best games in the first game,” Christopher said. “We just didn’t get the outcome. It was a really fluky game. It was odd.”
Hayton finished with 28 saves and Raskob, Vesel, Fejes, Truman Reed and Sabastian Lemm all scored.

The next day, SSM beat Slovakia 9-3 behind Stepan’s four goals. The Sabres led 6-2 after a second period that saw the two teams combine for seven goals. Brodeur finished with 25 saves.

In their final pool play game, the Sabres lost a lead to Finland and fell to 1-2.

Up 2-0, SSM led Finland score three straight goals before Jake Montgomery tied it in the second period. But Finland scored short-handed with eight minutes to go. Hayton had 17 saves and Fejes and Stepan scored.

The Sabres are off until they travel to Chicago for an HPHL Showcase on Jan. 13.

— Sports editor Brendan Burnett-Kurie may be reached at 333-3129.

16
Nov

MSU beats Duluth, New Hampshire for '12

November 9, 2011

 

Ricardo Cooney
SpartanMag.com Staff Writer

 

EAST LANSING – As promised by Tom Anastosupon his introduction as Michigan State’s new hockey coach, the Spartans program has not only turned up the heat on recruiting but recruiting top level talent.

The latest to join the fold, John Draeger, a defenseman out of the storied prep school program at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Fairbault, Minnesota.

Draeger, a 6-foot-2, 186 senior for the Sabres from Morristown, Minn., is considered a top-level defenseman that played in an elite level prep school program that has sent many players to Division I college hockey and eventually the National Hockey League.

“I know Coach Anastos and Coach (Kelly) Miller, (from) back in the day, when they were part of the rebuilding of the program and they said they want me to be a key part in bringing back the Spartans to a national championship,” Draeger said. “That really was appealing to me because I think that’s a great challenge and I’d love to be able to help out with that.”

MSU outdueled schools like defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth, New Hampshire, Mankato State and Holy Cross to get Draeger, who comes from a boarding school program known for developing future pro talent.

Some present NHL and past Shattuck standouts that Draeger hopes to someday follow to the big time includes Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby, Chicago Blackhawk Jonathan Toews, New Jersey Devil Zach Parise, Los Angeles King Jack Johnson, Detroit Red Wing Ty Conklin, Buffalo Sabre Drew Stafford, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Ryan Malone and New York Islander Kyle Okposo.

In 18 games so far this season, Draeger, a right-handed shot, has five goals and 11 assists for a Sabres’ team that won a U-18 national title. Last season, the former Shattuck teammate of first-year Spartan winger Tanner Sorenson, had just 3 goals and 8 assists in 54 games.

His coach and Shattuck’s director of hockey Tom Ward said Draeger’s development has been evident over the past few seasons.

“His skating, for a long and lanky kid, is really good and so is his vision of the game. He’s a very good reader of the game. He plays with his head up and he sees things. His read and react skills are really good,” Ward said “I think as he develops he’s going to be a big horse of a kid. He comes from a big family. He’s one of these kids that’s a young boy in a big man’s body. When he’s done at MSU, he’ll have a legitimate chance. I mean, no one can guarantee anything but he’s got a legitimate chance to play (in the NHL) after his time at Michigan State.”

Draeger, who was also chosen as the 57th overall pick of the United States Hockey League’s Draft by the Indiana Ice, is listed on NHL.com’s 2012 Entry Draft Players to Watch List from Minnesota.

Luckily for MSU, Draeger, who plans to major in either marketing, business or advertising, won’t be taking the USHL route and will be in a Spartan uniform next season.

“Some knowledgeable hockey specialists think it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion (that) Shattuck St. Mary’s d-man John Draeger will go places in the game of hockey,” said an analyst from thescoutingnews.com.

His coach says Draeger is a late bloomer who will only get better under the tutelage of MSU’s new coaching staff. Ward also compared Draeger to North Dakota senior defenseman and captain Ben Blood, another former Shattuck standout who was drafted by the Ottawa Senators and is expected to earn All-America honors this season.

“He’s a kid who’s grown into being a good athlete here the last five, six years of his life,” Ward said. “The past couple of years he’s played on our top team here and he’s turned himself into a fine hockey player. He’s still got a lot to go. I mean when he’s 25 he’s going to be significantly better than he is right now as an 18-year old but with regards to youth athletics, and hockey specifically, the last three or four years, he’s made a real nice jump in his game. Just about every school in the country has been looking at him, all of your big schools, because in the last 18 months, John has really turned his game into something special, plus you can’t coach being 6-2 as a hockey player. And I would imagine that he’s going to be a little bit taller than 6-2, I don’t know how much taller, and about a 215, 220-pound type of kid when he’s done at MSU.

Ward added that some of the other schools that showed interest in Draeger included Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin but it seems that MSU’s case to lure Draeger to East Lansing was also aided by the fact that present MSU director of hockey operations Adam Nightingale coached Draeger on the Midget AA level for a year at Shattuck.

“I know Coach Nightingale and I know Tanner Sorenson that was on my team last year and it was just the best fit for me,” said Draeger, whom MSU started recruiting heavily during the summer.

While it is still going to take some time for MSU to return to the high level program it was two decades ago, Anastos and his staff are already showing that they have spent many sleepless nights traveling, watching, evaluating and luring top end talent back to the fold at MSU.

The newest recruits expected to join the program in the next two to three years are defenseman Josh Jacobs, who could be in Spartan uniform in 2014, winger Michael Ferrantino, and goalie Jake Hildebrand. The Spartans have also added Ryan Keller, a forward with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede. Keller, a Farmington Hills native, who played high school hockey at Detroit Catholic Central before going to Sioux Falls, is expected to join MSU in 2012 or 2013.

In addition to Draeger’s arrival next season – the Spartans could lose as many as 11 players after the season – MSU is still expected to add previous commitments, defensemen Travis Walsh and Rhett Holland, wingers Mike McCarron and Joseph Cox and center Matt DeBlouw.

Walsh, a grandson of former Spartan hockey coach Ron Mason, Cox and DeBlouw are all members of the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL.

In addition to the future recruits and R.J. Boyd, a transfer from Sacred Heart – who was drafted by the Florida Panthers in 2010 and will join the Spartans next season as a sophomore after playing with the Indiana Ice of the USHL – the Spartans are expected to offer, if they haven’t already, Zachary Werenski, a 9th grader from Grosse Pointe, who plays for 16-under Belle Tire Team. The 14-year old is already 6-2 and 195 pounds and is eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft.

“A truly talented and dominant player. Is the youngest member of his team (born in ’97) but plays beyond his years. Possesses outstanding hockey sense and the game, on occasion, seems effortless for him,” said reelhockeyscouting.com analyst Ikerhodes of Werenski. “An offensive defenseman with fluid footwork and a great deal of athleticism. Sees the ice extremely well. Holds a lethal touch and patience with the puck and can hit his mark with it. Fires a quick and accurate shot. Has pro size and uses it well to smother the play and grind players off of the puck. Shows ‘flashes’ of an appetite for the big hit and has been known to absolutely devastate bodies in open ice.”

16
Nov

The World Sport School Challenge – December 26-31, 2011

The World Sport School Challenge is an international hockey tournament that Hockey Canada is putting on for Midget Prep High school programs around the world at the brand new WinSport Canada Athletic and Ice Complex on December 26 – 31, 2011. The event will feature Edge School, Shattuck St. Mary`s, Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy, Okanagan Hockey Academy, U17 Finland, and U17 Slovakia teams. The tournament was developed in line with Hockey Canada’s commitment to foster its growing relationship with sport schools and give students attending sport schools the chance to play at a higher level, including against national under-17 teams.

 www.hockeycanada.com/index.php/ci_id/177375/la_id/1.htm.

07
Nov

Shattuck- St. Mary's wins NIT

11/05/2011, 9:54pm (CST)

By MN Hockey Hub staff

Teddy Blueger scores highlight-reel goal, adds two assists in win over Minnesota Red

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Teddy Blueger of Shattuck-St. Mary’s had a goal and two assists in the championship game against Minnesota Red. Photo by Helen Nelson

Taking risks has never been an issue for senior forward Teddy Blueger of Shattuck-St. Mary’s.

At age 15 Blueger decided to uproot himself and travel across the ocean to hit the ice for Shattuck-St. Mary’s. The goal was to play against better competition in the sport he loved. Originally from Riga, Latvia, Blueger decided southern Minnesota was the best place for him to grow as a hockey player.

Now at age 17, Blueger is a key member of his team’s dominant offense that pulled out a 5-3 championship victory in the Bauer NIT on Sunday, Nov. 6, at New Hope Arena in New Hope.

In the second period, with his team up by a goal, Blueger decided to take another risk.

After catching a pass from teammate Ryan Schwalbe, Blueger dashed into the zone and cut to the middle of the ice, right into the teeth of the Minnesota Red defense. He split the two defenders, moved the puck to his backhand and flipped it over goaltender Bryan Nies of Grand Forks Red River to push the score to 2-0.

It was a bold, “in-your-face” type of goal that revved up both the crowd and his teammates.

Although his skill clearly transferred from Latvia, many things have been different for Blueger since he began living in the U.S.  

“Life in general is just a lot different,” Blueger said. “Just how people go about their business. But I like it a lot here.”

Some of the differences he’s noticed have been on the ice as well.

“Intensity and the speed of the game,” Blueger said were very different in the U.S. “How hard guys work. The ice is definitely smaller, so the game is a little faster.”

During the course of the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League, Blueger racked up 26 points (8 goals and 18 assists) on a team that went 13-1-1. His distribution abilities are well known — and much appreciated by his coach, Tom Ward.

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Shattuck-St. Mary’s senior Teddy Blueger, a native of Riga, Latvia, has been living in the U.S. since he was 15. Photo by Helen Nelson

“He sees plays, he sees people, and he’s a very deft passer,” Ward said. “He sees the game in a way that most people don’t see the game.

“Teddy Blueger is a very, very, very skillful player. To his credit he’s a hard-working skill player, so if you’ve got a player that’s got skill and he’s a hard worker, then you got a chance to have a good player. Teddy’s really maturing as a player. His game is rounding out and he’s learning to play in his own end and be reliable all over the rink.”

Coach Ward was pleased with Blueger’s performance, and his team’s performance as a whole, after winning the Bauer NIT title.

“Learning how to win championships is a learned trait,” Ward said. “I think you need to learn how to play when the cheese is binding a little bit and the pressure is on. And every game you can get in like this really helps.”

Shattuck-St. Mary’s is looking at the victory as a stepping stone to future success during the course of its long season.

“We are continuing to grow as a group, but we’ve got a lot of hockey to play,” Ward said. “We haven’t even had a snowflake yet and we gotta play until the middle of April. I really like the way we’re playing after 20 games.”

Blueger was happy for a little revenge. Shattuck-St. Mary’s lost in the title game last season 5-4 to Minnesota White in overtime, something that didn’t sit very well with the team.

“It definitely means a lot going forward,” Blueger said.

–Walker Orenstein, MN Hockey Hub staff

24
Oct

SSM rolls past Team Southeast

10/23/2011, 1:33am (CDT)

By Loren Nelson, Editor

Fejes scores twice in rout of Elite League standings leader Team Southeast

Hunter Fejes scored twice, and John Draeger and Teddy Blueger each had a goal and two assists to lead Shattuck-St. Mary’s past Team Southeast 8-2 on Sunday, Oct. 23, in an Upper Midwest High School Elite League matchup of standings leaders at Hobbs Ice Center in Eau Claire, Wis.

The teams alternated scoring the first five goals. The score was tied at 2 early in the second period when Shattuck-St. Mary’s (13-1-1) scored three times to take a 5-2 lead into the third.

Fejes scored both his goals in the third period as Shattuck-St. Mary’s finished the regular season on an 11-game win streak. Shattuck-St. Mary’s lone loss came on Oct. 1 to team Wisconsin.

Team Southwest, which had already clinched the regular season league title, dropped to 13-4-3. Two of Team Southwest’s losses have come against Shattuck-St. Mary’s. Team Southeast had one game remaining on its schedule, a matchup against host Team Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon.

Shattuck-St. Mary’s, which annually joins the Elite League two weeks after the rest of the teams, finished in second with 28 points in the standings despite playing six fewer games.

Team Southeast’s Tyler Sheehy of Burnsville scored in the first period and Scott Nelson of Eastview tied it at 2 on a power play just 47 seconds in the second period.

Shattuck-St. Mary’s goaltender Kyle Hayton stopped 24 of 26 shots and lowered his league-best save percentage to .929. Hayton also has the Elite League’s best goals-against average at 1.88.

Anders Franke of Elk River stopped 30 of 38 shots.

Team Southeast lost top defenseman Eric Schurhamer of St. Thomas Academy to a game ejection for butt-ending late in the second period. Schurhamer also received a 5-minute misconduct for the infraction.

10
Oct

UW women's hockey: Decker makes most of chance

ANDY BAGGOT |
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Brianna Decker knows time is running short, so the junior center for the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team is trying to make every nanosecond count.

Decker only has another eight weeks or so to alternately observe and pick the fertile brain of Meghan Duggan before the 2011 Patty Kazmaier Award winner graduates from UW in December with a degree in biology.

Duggan, the all-time leading scorer in program history who led the Badgers to the NCAA title last season, intends to return to the Boston area where she grew up and where she’ll continue to train toward another berth on the U.S. Olympic Team for 2014.

Between now and then, Duggan is a fixture at UW practices, attacking every drill and conditioning session. Decker is never very far away.

“I’ve taken so much from her already and she’s continuously helping me,” Decker said of her former linemate. “I’m trying to soak up everything as quick as possible here the next couple months.”

Decker, from Dousman, has a world-class skill set that could reunite her with Duggan on Team USA for the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

In 70 career games, Decker has 54 goals, 60 assists and 114 points. She’s coming off a sophomore season in which she totaled 80 points (34 goals, 46 assists) and teamed with Duggan and current senior winger, captain and Olympian Hilary Knight to guide the Badgers to their fourth national title in six years.

Decker became a protégé of sorts for Duggan. Whatever drill Duggan did, Decker wanted to see if she could do it better. Whenever Duggan stayed after practice to work on her game, Decker was right there, too.

But this goes beyond the game. Duggan was an exceptional captain. Teammates respectfully referred to her as “Alpha.” When Decker picks her brain, the subjects aren’t limited to on-ice tactics.

“I ask her little things about leadership and how to control certain situations on the team,” said Decker, one of three assistant captains along with senior wingers Brooke Ammerman and Carolyn Prevost. “And I know she studies her butt off all the time. I want to pick up on those things, too.

“I want to be an all-around good person and that’s what she is. She’s a great example for every one of us in that (dressing) room.”

The top-ranked Badgers are about to get a good measure of their collective character. They open a daunting month of matchups at 2 p.m. Saturday when they host North Dakota in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series at the Kohl Center.

The Sioux are loaded with talent and seem primed for a breakthrough season. That series is followed by two more against rivals Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth before Boston University comes to Madison for a rematch of March’s NCAA title game.

“We’re playing solid teams this month,” Decker said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but we need to focus on ourselves.”

In the midst of carrying 17 credits this semester, Duggan kept close tabs on Decker. Duggan likes what she sees.

“She has developed into probably, I’d say, one of the best players in the world,” Duggan said. “Just in the last year the strides that she’s made in her game are unbelievable. I think everyone has noticed them.

“I’m really excited to see where she’s going to go this year. Her eagerness to learn and get better every single day I think is what’s made her into an elite player. She’s only going to get better because of that.”

07
Oct

15 Shattuck Alumni Make NHL Opening Day Rosters 2011-12

Matt Smaby- Anaheim Ducks

Joe Corvo – Boston Bruins

Drew Stafford – Buffalo Sabres

Jamie McBain – Carolina Hurricanes

Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks – Team Captain

Patrick Eaves – Detroit Red Wings

Ty Conklin – Detroit Red Wings

Taylor Chorney – Edmonton Oilers

Jack Johnson – Los Angles Kings

Zach Parise – New Jersey Devils – Team Captain

Kyle Okposo – New York Islanders – Assistant Captain

Derek Stepan – New York Rangers

Sidney Crosby – Pittsburg Penguins – Team Captain

Chris Porter – St. Louis Blues

Ryan Malone – Tampa Bay Lightning