MINNETONKA, Minn. — In the last 10 years, the St. Cloud State men's hockey team has gotten two of the program's best defensemen from Minnetonka.
In the NCAA Division I era, Jimmy Schuldt is the top scoring defenseman and a two-time All-American and Andrew Prochno is fifth in career points by a defenseman.
"Josh would be the next line in that type of player," Minnetonka High School coach Sean Goldsworthy said. "I know when Josh was looking at schools, both of those guys had connected with him at some point to advise him on how to go through the process.
"From a character standpoint, Josh is in the same breath as Jimmy, and Andrew was in the same boat. You're getting a kid that's a good leader and teammate. In my opinion, he's one of the best four-year recruits for college hockey in the near future. He's going to anchor your blue line for some time."
Luedtke, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound 19-year-old, spent last season playing junior hockey for the Des Moines Buccaneers in the United States Hockey League and plans to play there another season. He had 20 points and 36 penalty minutes in 45 games. He recently decommitted to Denver and then called the St. Cloud State coaching staff.
"Denver is a good program, obviously, but things kind of changed and I had a change of heart and I felt like the right thing for me to do was to move in a different direction," he said. "I'm super excited to go to St. Cloud. The coaching staff there is great. Brett (Larson) and Nick (Oliver) are awesome guys, I get to stay close to home and it's a great culture."
Third time a charm?
His decommitment and then decision to pick the Huskies happened within the last week. When he committed to Denver in his senior year of high school, St. Cloud State was the other school he considered. That was about a year after he had verbally committed to Northern Michigan.
"I've had quite the process as far as recruiting goes," Luedtke said. "I'm super happy with how everything worked out and I'm super excited for the future.
"I think I was pretty young at the time and I got caught up in... I loved the coaching staff there and (head coach Grant) Potulny is awesome," he said of Northern Michigan. "At the time, I thought that was the right choice. As time went on, I realized it wasn't going to be the right fit for me. I guess I've kind of gone through the same thing again."
At Minnetonka, Luedtke had an outstanding career on and off the ice. He was a three-year letterwinner in both lacrosse and hockey, had a 3.9 grade-point average and scored a 26 on his ACT. As a junior, Luedtke scored the game-winning goal in the second overtime of the Section 2AA championship game and helped the Skippers win their first state title. He had 36 points, 24 penalty minutes and was a plus-44 in 23 games and was named to the AP All-State Third Team.
As a senior, Minnetonka was ranked No. 1 in the state most of the season, but the Skippers were upset by Holy Family in the section semifinals. That season, Luedtke was the team's captain and 11 goals (including five game-winners), 36 points, 24 penalty minutes and was a plus-29 in 27 games and was named to the AP All-State Second Team.
"Josh is a really smart, two-way defender. In my opinion, he was the best two-way defender in the state two years ago," said Goldsworthy, whose team was 48-5-5 in Luedtke's last two seasons. "His winning percentage his last two years was over 90% with one of the toughest schedules in the state.
"Josh has the ability at a young age to create a lot of offense but not at the expense of any defensive lapses and that's probably his best asset. At a younger age, a lot of defensemen struggle with transition and Josh has a very good feel for the game — when to attack out of transition and also when to generate turnovers and create offense out of transition.
"In 25 years of coaching, Josh is one of my favorite kids that I've ever coached. There's such a good character to him, his leadership is outstanding and the relationships he builds are strong and true. He was just a pleasure to be around."
Goldsworthy was the head coach for 19 seasons at St. Olaf College, an NCAA Division III program, before taking over at Minnetonka. He added that "there is not a hole" in Luedtke's game.
"I love to get up in the offensive side of things and making plays and I'd describe myself as a mobile defenseman," said Luedtke, whose father is a former soccer player at Gustavus. "I'd say I'm a puck-moving defenseman.
"I think one of my strengths is that I love to compete and I'm a super competitive person on and off the ice. I think that's one thing I pride myself in and I think my work ethic is one of my strengths as well."
During the stay at home orders because of the coronavirus pandemic, he is continuing to work on his strength with weights and workout equipment at his family's home and he is doing some workouts at parks as he prepares for his last season of juniors and trying to get the Buccaneers back in the playoffs.
"We were on the edge of making a playoff spot, so it was kind of sad that we didn't get to finish and make the playoffs," said Luedtke, whose team was 21-23-1-2. "It's kind of weird to have your season end like that, but obviously, for the right reasons.
"We've got a lot of returning players and a great core of guys coming back."
When Luedtke gets to St. Cloud State, he is likely to be reunited with former Minnetonka teammate and Skippers captain Joe Molenaar. Molenaar will join the Huskies this fall after two seasons in the USHL.
"You'll see me up in St. Cloud," Goldsworthy said. "That's a good program and we're big fans."