Breck’s Wheeler commits

The 6-foot-4-inch multisport athlete decided to stay home for college.

by Lou Raguse

Breck High School hockey star Blake Wheeler verbally committed to play college hockey at Minnesota for the 2005-06 season.

He announced his decision Saturday, after making an unofficial visit to the University campus last week.

“The biggest factor was having the opportunity to play in front of the whole state and my family,” the junior forward said. “Just staying home.”

Wheeler said he was given a taste of that while competing in the Minnesota high school hockey tournament this year, in which he led Breck to the Class A title.

Now that Wheeler has chosen his future school, he has several other decisions looming. Among them are whether to play junior hockey in the USHL next season or return to Breck for his senior year and whether or not to risk injury playing football.

As a 6-foot-4-inch, 195-pound tight end, Wheeler also helped Breck to the Class AA state football championship, catching seven passes for 147 yards in that game.

Still, hockey is the sport of Wheeler’s future, and this season he notched 44 goals and 56 assists for 100 points.

“I’m obviously biased, but I think they’ve got the best high school player in the state, junior or senior,” Breck coach Wally Chapman said. “He’s a big kid, and he’s still growing.”

Wheeler said between his sophomore and junior years, he grew two inches and gained 15 pounds.

As a likely first- or second- round NHL draft pick, Wheeler said he looks forward to honing his skills with the other talented recruits for the next couple years.

“They’ve got a lot of good players,” Wheeler said. “It’s an exciting thing just to know the future teams will be really, really good.”