Remaining at Blaine High School for his senior season made Riley Tufte, a skilled forward with NHL size, a virtual lock for the Mr. Hockey award.

In a surprise twist, linemate Luke Notermann has emerged as one of the top competitors for the title of Minnesota’s top senior skater. He made a verbal commitment to the University of Minnesota last week, further solidifying his elite status.

“He’s a competitor, he’s a tough kid and he’s fast,” Bengals coach Chris Carroll said. “And I think what the Gophers liked is that he also sees the ice well and has other tools he can utilize.”

Through the first 18 games this season, Notermann led the Bengals in assists (33) and points (52). His 19 goals ranked second to Tufte’s 29. Notermann is the center on the Bengals’ top line, Tufte a wing.

The rise of Notermann, coupled with Tufte’s sustained dominance, have put Blaine in the mix of top teams all season. Tufte previously committed to Minnesota Duluth and Carroll said he “knew it was a matter of time” until Notermann drew major college interest.

“I think [Gophers assistant] Grant Potulny saw when he came out that it’s not just Tufte — this kid [Notermann] can play,” Carroll said.

Spring Lake Park wins hockey title

A 4-0 victory against Irondale last Thursday earned Spring Lake Park’s first conference title since 1975.

The Panthers won the Northwest Suburban Conference’s West Division outright.

The Panthers are led scoring by Luke Turnquist (21 goals) and Connor Gagnon (23 assists). Goaltender Aaron Furlano has earned 12 of the Panthers’ 13 victories.

David La Vaque