Small in stature Jeremiah Luedtke has learned to use his size to his advantage on the ice.
Ive always been small so Ive gotten used to that so it doesnt really faze me, said the five-foot-eight forward for the Prince George Spruce Kings.
But it doesnt 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 hes going to be scary because he as 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 isnt too worried.
Hes had hard luck all year, said Dupas. Hes 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 its 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 2-2 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 Rais 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 weve 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.
Youve just got to play your role and get used to playing on all lines because youre going to have to go through it, said Luedtke. Because Im a rookie Im going to have to be a fourth liner and Ill get up to the second line or first line when I can.
The good news for the Spruce Kings (10-3-1-1) is every line has contributed so far this season, making ice times relatively even across all four lines. Saturdays overtime win over the Warriors (8-2-0-5) combined with the Chilliwack Chiefs (9-4-1-1) 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 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 Edens shot to give the home side their sixth consecutive win.
When everyones contributing coach puts us all out there, said Luedtke. Its great to see everyone playing and everyone scoring.