Elks boys hockey senior forward Blake Johnson is one of the primary catalysts for the Elks’ offense in 2021-22. Johnson is the Elks leading goal scorer with 16 goals in 14 games. He also leads the Elks with 31 points, averaging 2.21 points per game.
Johnson, a co-captain, is tied for second on the Elks in power-play goals with three and leads the Elks in shorthanded goals with two and game-winning goals with three. Johnson describes his playing style as fast and shifty and someone who has a good shot. His favorite NHL player is Chicago Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane. A former No. 1 NHL overall draft pick, Kane, like Johnson, is fast and shifty and has won three Stanley Cups as a member of the Blackhawks and is a two-time Winter Olympian for Team USA, winning silver at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
“Growing up, I’d always see highlights of Kane,” Johnson said. “I’d wake up, go onto the NHL app and see Kane score a sweet goal almost every day.”
Johnson was a key part of Elk River’s 6-5 win over Spring Lake Park on Saturday, Jan. 8. He scored a hat trick, his second of 2021-22, igniting the crowd at Cornerstone Arena in Elk River.
Johnson said it was nice to get a hat trick on Saturday.
“It’s always a cool thing to do,” Johnson said. “We we’re in a tight game. I need to step up for my team and get a timely goal, so that’s what I did.”
Johnson started to play hockey when he was about 4 years old.
“I watched it a lot,” he said. “I went to a rink and loved skating and moved onto hockey after that. I love being on the ice and playing with pucks.”
Johnson is scheduled to graduate from Elk River High School on Friday, June 10, 2022. In 2022-23, he will be playing for the North Iowa Bulls of the North American Hockey League. The team is based in Mason City, Iowa.
One of Johnson’s linemates is senior forward Andrew Foss. Foss said it’s been a great experience playing with Johnson on the same line this winter.
“He’s such a good player,” Foss said. “He’s fast. He knows what to do with the puck. He’s so quick with his feet. One moment, you’ll see him in a spot. The next, you’ll see him in a different spot open, calling for the puck. It’s been a great experience being able to play with him this year. Seeing him grow as a hockey player through the years, too, being with him for the past three years has been an [amazing] experience.”
Elks head coach Ben Gustafson said Johnson is the ultimate competitor.
“He’s got a drive to win,” Gustafson said. “I’ve seen a lot of maturity in him. It’s been a blessing to be able to coach him for the last four years. He joined our program as a ninth grader. I’ve seen mature a lot in regards to him being able to control his emotions. Being one of the best players on the team, a lot of times, it’s in the other team’s game plan to do whatever they can to stop him and to slow him down. When you’re the focal point, a lot of times, that can be challenging.
“Sometimes in the past, Blake’s emotions have gotten the best of him. I’ve seen so much growth and maturity in that regard. I’m so proud of him in that regard. He’s always had great skills. He’s a great skater. He’s got a great shot. In that regard, he’s improved as well.”
Johnson said his goal for his senior season is for Elk River to win the Section 8-2A tournament and make the 2022 Class 2A boys state hockey tournament Wednesday, March 9-Saturday, March 12, 2022, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Elks haven’t won a state boys hockey title since 2001, when Gustafson was a junior.
“I’ve always dreamed of playing in the state tournament,” he said. “It’s been a dream of mine to play in my final year. To go to the state tournament would be my only dream.”