The Upper Midwest Elite League rolled on Tuesday night with Team Southwest taking on Team Northwest at New Hope Arena. Southwest currently sits in second place in the league standings, trailing only team Team North, and asserted their advantage over the sub-.500 Northwest by outshooting the Northwest 42-22 on their way to a 6-2 victory.
Southwest jumped out to an early 3-0 lead thanks to first period goals by Shane Lavelle and Teddy Lagerback, and then a second goal from Lavelle less than two minutes into the second period.
Northwest came close to evening the score during their best stretch of play in the mid-second period, getting goals by Luc Laylin and Charlie Schoen. But back-to-back snipes from the point by Josh Luedtke and a goal in the closing seconds of the second period by Liam Malmquist gave Southwest a 6-2 lead they would protect through a scoreless third period.
Josh Luedtke, ‘00+, Minnetonka(Denver)- Northern Michigan appeared to hit a home run last year when they got a commitment from the somewhat under-the-radar Luedtke in October, and he developed into one of the top offensive defensemen in the state, helping Minnetonka to a state championship. But such is the nature of college hockey recruiting these days that that just opened up more options for Luedtke and in September of this year, Luedtke re-opened his recruitment before recently settling on Denver, where he will join Minnetonka teammate Bobby Brink.
Anyway, Luedtke is really good. I was a little surprised he wasn’t on the NHL Central Scouting preliminary list because to me, he’s one of the better draft prospects available in high school hockey this year. Size is likely the big issue keeping him off the CSB list, but we’re in an era where seven defensemen under six feet tall went in the first round of last year’s draft, not to mention players like Scott Perunovich who vastly exceeded most draft projections by being picked in the second round. Hockey is becoming faster and less physical and if you can play, which Luedtke definitely can, you’ll get a good look.
Luedtke is an extremely smooth skater and pretty good passer. There’s still work to do on the defensive end, but that’s not atypical. What really sets him apart is that he’s one of the best shooters from the point I’ve seen. He doesn’t have the big booming slap shot that tends to impress people, but he gets his shot off really, really quickly and with deadly accuracy. Both of his goals last night popped the water bottle top shelf. That’s the type of weapon teams have to game plan around, which then opens up other options on the ice.
Nathan Schweitzer, ‘02, Benilde-St. Margaret’s(Colorado College)- He was a really difficult player to project last year in his USHL Draft year because he was really big for his age, but also fairly physically developed. College hockey recruiting history is littered with players that were 5’10”-5’11” as 15-year-olds and dominated because they towered over the competition, but then stayed that height and never developed the plus-level athleticism one need’s to thrive in college hockey at that height.
Schweitzer has had a pretty good Elite League so far though, earning a scholarship offer to Colorado College that he accepted last week, and proving he probably doesn’t belong in that category. What Schweitzer has working in his favor is that he’s a really strong skater that can move well for a player with a wider body frame. His ceiling still might not be as high as some of the other players in his birth year, but he looks like a solid addition for Colorado College.
Tyler Kostelecky, ‘01, Maple Grove(ASU)/Charlie Schoen, ‘01, Andover(ASU)-Schoen committed to the Sun Devils late this summer, while Kostelecky committed this past week. Arizona State has done a nice job picking up some good players out of Minnesota that more local schools were maybe a little patient on. Arizona State commit Teddy Lagerback had a nice goal in this game too. Kostelecky had a quieter game on Tuesday, but is a really skilled player that is still just starting to fill out. Schoen had a hand in both of Northwest’s goals. His quickness and speed created a lot of scoring opportunities, and he’s another player that is only going to get better because he still has room to fill out physically.
Shane Lavelle, ‘01, Chaska(Wisconsin)-Lavelle committed to Wisconsin last year, so doesn’t really fit with the theme I was going for, but deserves mention as another player I was a little surprised to not see get a mention from NHL Central Scouting. Admittedly, he got off to a very slow start in the Elite League, with five of his six points coming in his past three games. But he had a very strong game last night with three points, including a very pretty first goal, where he made a nice move in tight in front of the net to deke around the goalie and score. There are definite areas to improve; he could get faster and play with the puck on his stick more. But the prelim rankings are all about casting a wide net, and he’s a player worth watching this year.
12:45 Shane Lavelle from Ryan O’Neill and Josh Luedtke 1-0 Southwest
8:49 Teddy Lagerback from Shane Lavelle and Mason Reiners 2-0 Southwest
18:33 Shane Lavelle from Ryan O’Neill and Teddy Lagerback 3-0 Southwest
15:45 Luc Laylin from Charlie Schoen and Tommy Bergsland 3-1 Southwest
11:16 Charlie Schoen from Nick Dainty and Luc Laylin 3-2 Southwest
8:08 Josh Luedtke from Jack Bayless and Michael Vorlicky (power play) 4-2 Southwest
3:57 Josh Luedtke from Michael Vorlicky and Rhett Pitlick (power play) 5-2 Southwest
0:07 Liam Malmquist from Rhett Pitlick 6-2 Southwest