Shattuck-St. Mary's U16 team took on the Minnesota Blades last night at Mariucci Arena, in what is likely a preview of this year's district championship at the Midget Minor level, and I was on hand to get my first look at the Sabres this season. They were impressive, earning a 4-1 victory that probably wasn't as close as the score indicated. Shattuck jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two periods and took their foot off the gas in the third period.
Shattuck's top line of Logan Hutsko(Penn St) centering Austin Pratt and Brannon McManus(Minnesota) had a strong game. Pratt, an impressive power forward, scored two goals, both on strong plays around the net. Both goals were set up by nice rushes up the left wing by Hutsko, who made a nice one-on-one move against a defender and fed the puck over to Pratt, who jammed home the goal. Hutsko was very fun to watch all night. He's small, and not much of a speedster, but is an incredible stickhandler in tight spaces. He's also stronger on his stick than his size would indicate. McManus had a pretty quiet game. The talent is there, but he's going to need time to get a little stronger.
'98 Niko Karamanis, who is one of the older players on the team, had a strong game at forward. '99s Connor McMenamin, Charlie Dovorany, and Alex Mella are all players that aren't quite finished products yet, but should draw attention in the USHL Draft.
On defense, '99s Erik Dahl and Brady Lyle appear to be the top pairing. Dahl is a huge kid with decent skill. His skating will need to improve a bit. Lyle had a very nice game. He moves the puck effectively and makes a lot of smart plays.
'99s Tyler Inamoto and Michael Schumacher had a strong game as well. Inamoto is a big, physical defenseman. He's a decent skater, but his feet can be a little slow at times. Schumacher is a smaller defenseman, but tough for his size and he plays with very high hockey IQ.
Overall, this is a really good, deep Shattuck team. I'd be interested to see them play a team like Chicago Mission or Honeybaked, but I have a feeling that they'd hold up really well against them.
On the other side, the Blades had a tough time getting much going against Shattuck until the third period. I continue to be impressed with Lakeville defenseman Nate Knoepke. Benilde's Zach Risteau was the most effective forward all night. He was working hard in the defensive end, and created a few turnovers which led to offense the other way. The Edina line with Clayton Phillips, Sammy Walker, and Ben Copeland had a good third period, yielding a goal for Copeland.