Austin Bjorge earned his spot.
But the first-line center for the Little Falls Flyers isn’t taking it for granted. Not with fellow senior and long-time teammate Ben Newman backing him up.
Bjorge was promoted to first line around Christmas time because of his play said Flyers head coach Tony Couture, who has not been disappointed with the move.
“From last year’s top two lines we were missing two kids,” said Couture. “So we’ve just rotated those kids around depending on how they play. We had Newman, Austin and Luke Majerle on our first line, but we weren’t getting enough out of our second line so we moved Austin to center on our second line. He had played a couple of good games, he played very well against Sauk Rapids, so we moved him up to the first line.”
Couture said neither of his centers were playing bad, just that Bjorge had the hotter scoring touch.
Bjorge recorded a hat trick, including the game-winning goal against Sauk Rapids Jan. 8. He added another goal in a 3-2 loss to ranked Hermantown Jan. 12.
The four-year varsity player added two assists in the Flyers 4-2 victory over St. Cloud Apollo Tuesday.
“Austin is one of our bigger kids,” said Couture. “He’s improved his skating over the last four years he’s been here. When he first came here, he was playing pretty high so we got him to get a little lower and that helped him become a pretty good skater. He’s got a good shot and he has a big frame with a good reach. He’s improved quite a bit and has even become a nice defensive player for us.
Bjorge is the Flyers’ second leading scorer with 15 goals and 23 points. He owns three power-play goals and three short-handed goals. He also owns four game-winning goals and a plus/minus of 19.
Last season, Bjorge finished with 17 goals and 26 points for fourth on the team. He tallied one power-play goal and two short-handed goals for the Class 1A state consolation champions.
As a sophomore, Bjorge totalled 10 goals and 20 assists. Again he added one power-play goal and two short-handed goals. As a freshmen he posted nine goals and three assists.
“He’s originally a Little Falls kid, but he moved to Wadena for a couple of years and then came back to us as an eighth grader,” Couture said. “We had to move him up to varsity as a freshman because he was out of Bantam eligibility. He’s a good kid. He does well in school. He’s an all-around player and he even played football this year.”
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Josh Gilb, Verndale, finished with 23 points and six steals against New York Mills.
Devin Strack, Pillager, finished with 26 points against Menahga.
Travis Jacobson, Pequot Lakes, scored 24 points against Crosby-Ironton.
Jordan Redmond, Pequot Lakes, scored 22 points against Crosby-Ironton.
Will Goodwin, Crosby-Ironton, scored 22 points against Pequot Lakes.
Nathan Ehnstrom, Aitkin, scored 26 points against Hinckley-Finlayson.
EJ Ziegler, Pillager, finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds against Bertha-Hewitt.
Hockey: Ben Moe, Northern Lakes, scored three goals