Go ahead and say, “Nice game Nick.”
That about covers it for the Northern Lakes Lightning hockey team. At least when talking about the team’s first line of forwards.
Nick Blanchette, Nick Olson and Nick Reed make up the Lightning’s first line or the “Bros Line” — the first letter of each player’s last name.
Blanchette, a senior, has 13 points through nine games to lead the team. Reed, a sophomore, has 11 points through 10 games and Olson, a junior, has six points in 10 games.
“That’s our Bros Line,” said Northern Lakes first-year head coach Craig Larson. “They work really well together. Blanchette brings the mix of a big puck moving power toward, who can get to the net.
“Nick Olson is the playmaker. He’s very good at distributing the puck and Nick Reed is the buzzard. He just goes. He’s fast and good at finishing plays. They all work well together, but Blanchette is our captain.
“I will go so far as to say he’s the heart and soul of our team. If he’s having an off night he does a heck of a job to make sure it doesn’t spread to the rest of the team. He starts a lot of our drills. He’s a great captain and a great kid.”
Blanchette has eight goals and five assists for his team-leading 13 points. He has one power-play goal and four game-winners. He has a plus/minus of plus-2.
During the Lightning’s four-game winning streak, Blanchette tallied a goal and an assist against Moose Lake, a goal and assist against Bagley/Fosston, a goal against Greenway and a goal and two assists against Wadena-Deer Creek.
“This year has just been kind of about teamwork,” said Blanchette. “My line and I have really gotten along and we’re moving the puck really well. This summer I did a lot of off-season training to improve all my skills — my shooting, skating and what not. It’s just been about work and my teammates backing me up.”
Last season, Blanchette finished with 10 goals and 16 points in 22 games. He added two short-handed goals and one game-winner. He posted a goal and assist in the one Section 8-2A game Northern Lakes played last season.
As a sophomore he tallied three goals and three assists.
“Coming into the season he was the only guy with double-digit points from last season,” said Larson. “We lost a lot of guys with good numbers. My expectations were really that this was going to be a building year and getting a lot of youth into the program and go from there. Moving to a different section (6-1A) helps our cause as far as being more competitive.
“But Nick has exceeded our expectations. He’s scored goals where he’s supposed to score, but he’s become that physical leader. Guys respect him. He’s a good locker room guy as far as getting other guys ready. That’s his strongest attribute. He’s an extension of our coaching staff.”
The Lightning are 7-3 overall and 1-1 in the Mid-State Conference. They are 1-0 against section opponents.
“From what I’ve been seeing, we’ve been handling success really well,” said Blanchette, who played football, will play golf, is in choir and in the Spanish club. “We haven’t reflected on the past. If we do think about a past game it’s to find examples of where we can get better, but we don’t dwell on the positives. We’re able to go and play every team as if we haven’t won a game yet.”
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Sebastian Sowada, Little Falls, finished with 22 points against Foley.
Seth Auger and Jalen Busker, Staples-Motley, each scored 21 points against Wadena-Deer Creek.
Jared Reintiz, Wadena-Deer Creek, scored 26 points against Staples-Motley.
Conner Uselman, Pillager, finished with 21 points against Menahga.
Daniel Hudrlik, Crosby-Ironton, reached 1,000 career points by scoring nine against Park Rapids.
Abe Imdieke, Lake Region, finished with 23 points against St. Francis.
Wrestling: Triston Rubner, Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus, won the 138-pound division at the Paul Bunyan Invite.
Trysten Ross, Little Falls, won the 220-pound division at the Paul Bunyan Invite.