|10/24/2019 3:14:00 PM|
Lizotte coming home to Minnesota as a member of the Los Angeles Kings
|Lindstrom native Blake Lizotte has flourished with the Los Angeles Kings this season, and he will be making his professional debut in Minnesota on Saturday, October 26 when the Kings take on the Minnesota Wild.|
Getty Images File Photo
Blake Lizotte’s journey to the National Hockey League is the stuff made for Hollywood.
So it’s only fitting that one of the big chapters of the story has Lizotte coming home to Minnesota as part of Hollywood’s de facto team, the Los Angeles Kings.
Lizotte, who signed with the Kings late last season after St. Cloud State was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament and made his debut in the Kings’ last game of the season, returns to Minnesota on Saturday, October 26 as the Kings will take on the host Minnesota Wild.
The 21-year-old Lindstrom native who starred for Chisago Lakes’ hockey and tennis team throughout his high school career, will be making quite the splashy debut.
Considered a long shot to make the opening night roster, Lizotte grinded his way through training camp, impressing those on the Kings coaching staff. “It was a fun process, but it was a very difficult one also,” Lizotte said. “Every day, guys were getting cut and sent down, but you eventually start to get an idea as it winds down.”
A few days before the season opener, Lizotte got official word that he would be on 2019-20 LA Kings. He began working as a bottom six forward, on either the third or fourth line as center.
As he got acclimated to the Southern California lifestyle – getting an apartment with former Roseville and University of Minnesota-Duluth star Mikey Anderson, who is a defenseman for the Ontario Reign, LA’s minor league affiliate – he began to feel more comfortable on the ice. “Having Mikey as a roommate has been great, just that Midwest connection so we both understand a lot about each other,” he said.
After three games, to go along with the comfortability, Lizotte’s quickness, discipline, defensive effort and tenacious plays earned him a boost to the second line, where he began centering wingers Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli.
All of a sudden, a 21-year-old kid from Chisago Lakes High School was dishing passes and winning faceoffs for a pair of wingers who have combined for 1,453 games and 490 goals.
“It’s pretty surreal to work with Tyler and Jeff,” Lizotte said. “They’ve been so welcoming and great linemates.”
The promotion came with more ice time and a greater responsibility, but that didn’t faze Lizotte, as the line has flourished since being put together. It’s what he’s been working for his whole life. “It’s one thing to make a team. It’s another thing to make a difference,” he said. “I’m just playing my game and working to be the best player I can be.”
The added pressure of playing an important role with two seasoned vets doesn’t affect Lizotte’s game. “It’s just a game. The stakes are higher, but if you’re worried about making a mistake the whole game, you’re going to play horrible,” Lizotte explained. “I’m getting to do something I love and get the experience of a lifetime. I’m going to enjoy it and not let the pressure get to me.”
Although Lizotte is still searching for his first career goal and only has two assists so far on the scoresheet, there’s a reason he was promoted. Advanced stats, puck possesion, shot attempts and plus-minus all look very favorably on Lizotte. Simply put, his the team has played better when he is on the ice with them.
Lizotte will put those skills on show for at least a home “section” on Saturday. Despite coming into the Xcel Energy Center as part of the visiting team, Section 227 will be rocking a lot of Chisago Lakes, LA Kings, and St. Cloud State gear in anticipation of Lizotte’s professional debut back in his homestate. Lizotte’s mom, Lisa, said they have four rows of tickets in the section, and that many other friends, fans and supporters will be in and around those spots.
Lizotte is looking forward to the support. “Chisago Lakes fans, former teammates and just the community in general has always been great to me throughout my career,” he said fondly. “It means the world to me and it will always be my home.”