|Citizen photo by Dave Mah|
Jeremiah Luedtke (14) battles with Dustin Cave (22)
The following article on Jeremiah Luedtke and the Spruce Kings win on Saturday night is being reposted here from the Prince George Citizen's website. The interview with Jeremiah was done on Friday night prior to the game where he was the honourary captain for the Pink in the Rink game.
I do have to point out that I had to make a correction to the season record of all three teams from the original article to include the games played this past weekend. But also want to point out that she did a wonderful job in ensuring the use of the team's full name - Spruce Kings - throughout the article, thank you!
Sheri Lamb, Prince George Citizen staff
Small in stature Jeremiah Luedtke has learned to use his size to his advantage on the ice.
"I've always been small so I've gotten used to that so it doesn't really faze me," said the five-foot-eight forward for the Prince George Spruce Kings.
But it doesn't mean the 18-year-old is not secretly praying he takes after dad Jerry and has a late growth spurt. Jerry is six-foot-two.
For Spruce Kings head coach Dave Dupas the prospect of the shifty playmaker taking after his dad is music to the ears.
"If he grows he's going to be scary because he has an edge to him and great, great skill," said Dupas.
So far this season the B.C. Hockey League rookie forward has found himself a bit snake bitten in the offensive zone with only one goal and seven points through 17 games, but Dupas isn't too worried.
"He's had hard luck all year," said Dupas. "He's creating all kinds of chances for himself and I see him practice all the time and I know he can score - he hits the corners and he makes good moves - but in games right now it's just not going in for him.
"Eventually they will start to go in, he has that much talent and when they do, I think the floodgates are going to open," he added.
The floodgates opened a little Saturday night for Luedtke in the Spruce Kings 4-3 overtime win over the West Kelowna Warriors in front of 1,023 witnesses at the Coliseum. With the game tied at 2 midway through the third period, Luedtke picked up the puck left by linemate Chad Staley at the side of the Warriors' net, showed patience and threaded a perfect pass onto Justin Rai's stick for the go-ahead goal.
Luedtke has known Staley for years as the two Washington natives had played against each other for years before teaming up last season for the under-18 Wenatchee Wild in the North American Prospects Hockey League.
"We have really good chemistry together," said Luedtke. "We just hang out all the time and we've known each other for a while now and have played together a lot, our playing styles are the same."
Together with Rai, the threesome, also known as the Cascade Express after the metro train that passes through all their hometowns from Surrey to Lynnwood to Kennewick, have many fans on the edge of their seats when they take to the ice.
Last season, Luedtke played in 22 games for the Wild, notching nine goals and 16 points and had a goal in four playoff games. He knew the adjustment to the BCHL - where the players are bigger, faster and smarter - was going to be tough.
"You've just got to play your role and get used to playing on all lines because you're going to have to go through it," said Luedtke. "Because I'm a rookie I'm going to have to be a fourth liner and I'll get up to the second line or first line when I can."
The good news for the Spruce Kings (11-4-1-1) is every line has contributed so far this season, making ice times relatively even across all four lines. Saturday's overtime win over the Warriors (8-3-0-5) combined with the Chilliwack Chiefs (10-4-1-1) 5-1 loss in Vernon propelled the Spruce Kings into first place in the Mainland division.
Former BCMML Cariboo Cougar Seb Lloyd and Brent Lashuk gave the Warriors a 2-0 advantage but the Spruce Kings fought back Saturday to tie the game after 40 minutes on goals by Liam Board and captain Trevor Esau.
After Luedtke fed Rai to put the Spruce Kings up 3-2, Brennan Clark tied the game for the Warriors to send the game into the four on four, five-minute overtime period. Tyson Witala banged home a rebound off defenceman Mitch Eden's shot to give the home side their sixth consecutive win.
"When everyone's contributing coach puts us all out there," said Luedtke. "It's great to see everyone playing and everyone scoring."