Next time they meet, Blake Heinrich might have something to hold over his buddies Michael Brodzinski and Jordan Gross.
Brodzinski (Minnesota) and Gross (Notre Dame) might have grabbed more attention but it was Heinrich, who was the last man standing this season as he’s led Hill-Murray to the Class 2A title game tonight against Benilde-St. Margaret’s.
“Yeah, I might have to give them a hard time about that next time I see them,” Heinrich said.
Heinrich, a junior, is part of a class of third-year defenseman who have certainly left their mark on Minnesota this year.
Gross led Maple Grove to its first-ever state tournament appearance while Brodzinski took an extremely young Blaine back to the section finals.
Then there’s Grand Rapids defenseman Jake Bischoff (Minnesota), who has made many take notice with his two-way ability although is team was eliminated in its first playoff game.
Although Heinrich faces a different situation than the rest of his contemporaries who are deciding if they should stay for another year or head straight to the USHL.
“I am staying next year,” said Heinrich, who’s rights belong to the Sioux City Musketeers. “It’s something I don’t even half to think about for next year. The education at Hill-Murray is so good and they’ve been so good with me.”
Heinrich said he’ll go to the USHL after his senior season and his hopes are to then play college hockey.
So far there have been a few schools who have contacted Heinrich but he said there’s nothing serious yet.
But if he keeps at the pace he’s going, he could find himself with an offer or two before it is all said and done. Heinrich showed what he could do in his team’s 2-1 win overtime win in the state semifinals against Moorhead.
Heinrich laid out several massive hits in the win against Moorhead including a crushing blow in the first period, which certainly changed the pace of the period.
“That got me going,” said Heinrich’s teammate, Conrad Sampair, who scored both goals in the win.
Heinrich’s decision to stay is also based off what he and Hill-Murray have accomplished this season.
The Pioneers were a strong favorite to win state last year but failed to qualify for the tournament after falling in the section finals against White Bear Lake.
Hill-Murray lost several players to graduation, major junior and lost rising star forward, Luke Voltin (North Dakota), to the NTDP and later to the Des Moines Buccaneers.
“We had only one defenseman coming back,” Heinrich said. “So we actually had to movee guys from forward to defensemen.”
It turned out to be a move which has paid off for the Pioneers and Heinrich.
Not only for this season.
But also next year too.