by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River defenseman Wyatt Ege is blessed with a compact, sturdy physique with excellent coordination and foot-speed, but his best feature is “the head on his shoulders” according to the Elks’ coach.
“Wyatt is a smart player who always thinks one step ahead,” said Gordie Roberts. “He runs our power play. He’s a quarterback of he team. He has the poise of a college player in the way he is able to slow the game down. He’s a great passer, has good size, skates very well and kills penalties. ”
Roberts especially likes the way Ege will draw a player to him and then dish off.
“He moves the puck so the next guy has open ice and a chance to score,” said Roberts. “As a coach, you are very confident when he is on the ice.”
Ege, a third-year starter, is one of the leaders on an Elk team that’s started 5-2 overall and 4-0 in the NWSC. From the defenseman position he’s made seven assists this year, and as a junior notched eight goals and nine assists on a 16-9-2 team.
The 5-foot-10, 155-pound athlete is not the prototype, hard-checking, rugged, stalking defenseman, but his skill set serves the Elks well on both ends of the rink.
“I’m a good puck-moving defenseman. I am not real physical,” said Ege, asked what his team needs from him. “I get a lot of assists and score goals once a while.”
If Ege has his head in the game, it’s largely because he’s been in the game as long as he can remember, starting to skate at age two and playing organized hockey since he was four. Ege said his dad, Jason, was “a basketball player, but had always wanted to play hockey” and made sure his boys had the chance to skate — Riley and then Wyatt.
After dabbling in football and baseball in grade school, Ege committed to hockey only in sixth grade. About that time, he settled in with a pretty good bunch of skaters. They went to state tournaments four straight years, two in peewees and two in bantams. That’s essentially the same group that’s now the Elk varsity.
“Our goal, for sure, is to win conference, and then section and go to state, if not win state,” Ege said. “We feel we can play with anybody.”
Asked what’s tough about the Elks, he assessed, “We move the puck well and we skate really fast. We are a fast, up-tempo team.”
Ege got valuable ice time this fall with the Elite League that’s limited to the top players, with the Northeast team. (Talented younger teammates Jake Jaremko and Andrew Zerban played for Northwest.) They play three games each weekend for two months.”Lots of college scouts there,” said Ege, who feels he held up well.
Ege says his proudest personal achievement so far was “being able to play varsity in 10th grade.” His lone personal goal is “to play for a Division I college team.” He’s anticipating entering juniors next year.
THE EGE SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 17 … Family: parents Jason and Cindy; brother Riley, 21 … Sport: hockey … Academics: A’s and B’s … College plans: on hold; will play junior hockey next year
Favorite stuff — Class: P.R. … TV shows: “Tom & Jerry” and “Spongebob” … Movie: “Shooter” … Reading: Sports Illustrated, ESPN magazine … Food: spaghetti, steak … Drink: Mt. Dew … Athletes: Chris Letang, Kobe Bryant … Sports to watch: “No particular team, I just like to watch hockey, basketball, football, baseball, Gopher hockey, too.” … Kickback activity: fishing at the cabin