Catrinas Cerveza & Grill - St. Anthony
2510 Kenzie Terrace, St. Anthony, MN 55418
The Minnesota Mullets are a Junior A hockey team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Mullets skate out of Augsburg University Ice Arena.
For Tryout Information Email: ChrisWalbyHockey@gmail.com
The 2020-21 hockey season was full of challenges and disappointment for many who saw the challenges of a world in pandemic trying to find ways to stay on the ice amid restrictions and precautions.
It’s nice to see a successful conclusion on a season like that and for Jack Fuss, it ended up being an amazing campaign as, this time last season, he wasn’t even thinking about playing.
Ultimately, he couldn’t give up on the game though. He returned to play for Head Coach Chris Walby and the Minnesota Mullets, and his time there ultimately ended up with him being pursued by the St. Scholastica Saints. As a result, he finds himself back at a college campus again this fall, but this time, as a student athlete.
Fuss, a 5’9” 180 lbs. defenseman who turned 20 Sept. 8, is a resident of Edina, a hockey player factory on the outskirts of the Twin Cities with a high school team that plays in the annual State Championship tournament regularly.
Looking for a little more hockey exposure, Fuss decided to take his act to Wisconsin as a high school junior playing AAA for the Madison Capitols.
“We played somewhere around 60 games and it was great for my development,” said Fuss in an email interview. “We played teams like Shattuck and Culver, so it was good competition.
“I went back home to Edina High School for my senior year. I was supposed to play on the varsity team that year, but because of transfer laws in the MSHSL, I was not allowed to play. I ended up having to play for the Junior Gold A team that year.”
Fuss dealt with the disappointment, but it was a bit of an unexpected gut punch for the player.
“It was a good year,” said Fuss. “But also, it was hard for me because I wanted to play for EHS ever since I watched my brother win a state title there in 2014.”
Fuss finished high school and moved on to college in the fall of 2020, temporarily leaving the sport behind.
“I started off last year, just going to school at the University of St. Thomas and I wasn’t playing any sports. I was a full-time student, but I stayed in the weight room. With about four weeks left in the first semester there, I realized I didn’t want to go to school and not play hockey, the sport I have been playing all my life. Hockey has been a big part of our family forever and not playing just felt weird.”
“I reached out to Coach Walby and asked him if there was still a spot for me on the team or not and thankfully, there was,” said Fuss. “As soon as I found out he had a spot for me, I went down and skated with my dad’s team in Sioux Falls. He coaches the 18U Sioux Falls Power hockey team.”
The layoff wasn’t long, but Fuss realized he needed to shake off some rust and he worked hard to prepare.
“It was my first time skating in over 10 months, so I stayed out on the ice for a while and just trie3d to get back into it as fast as I could,” said Fuss. “After about two weeks of skating, I started skating with the Mullets and I was fully a part of the team. After the first two practices I knew I was going to love it. I got along with every single person on that team and really felt at home.
“After a few weeks on the team, I started to play with Darren Shykes a lot and he as my D-partner for most of the season. I played 11 games and then sadly, I got a bad ankle injury that took me out for the rest of the season.
“I played in the first game of playoffs, and everything went well, but five minutes into the second game I re-injured it taking me out of the game.”
The short but exciting experience had Fuss looking forward to returning for another season with the Mullets and Coach Walby looked forward to him being a key player on the defense corps. Showcase tournaments through the season give players like Fuss to get noticed by college and university scouts, but the process got rushed a bit along the way.
“I got contacted by the Head Coach at St. Scholastica and they told me they needed a right-handed defenseman, and I was the first person they contacted,” said Fuss. It turns out the Coach had watched a few hours of Mullets film and had a good idea of what the defenseman brought to the table. He just couldn’t pass up a chance to play for the MIAC school that had expressed a need for what he could bring.
“They said they were going to start talking to me this next year on the Mullets to play with them in the 2022-23 season and they were already on the list of schools I wanted to possibly play for. Some things happened and opened the door for me to come in and play a year early. My goal coming back was to play hockey for a Division 3 school and I felt like it was something I just couldn’t walk away from.”
But there is another draw that plays an even bigger role.
“On top of that, my brother is a senior at the school, playing for the hockey team and I thought it would be cool to play on a team with him. He is four years older than me so it always seemed like it would be impossible to ever play with him.”
Fuss has already started taking classes at Scholastica and will major in Business Management.
His time with the Mullets and Coach Walby may have been brief, but Fuss said it played a huge role in helping him achieve his goal of playing college hockey.
“If it wasn’t for Coach Walby, none of this would be happening. He took me and had confidence in me, knowing I had been away from the game for quite a while.
“He told me he knew that I would be able to adjust and get back into it the right way. I will never forget what Coach Walby has done for me and I am very thankful.”
The Mullets are also thankful for what Fuss brought to the team in the 2020-21 season and wish him luck with both his education and hockey career at St. Scholastica.
Ben Borreson, 21, from Tomah, WI and a four-year veteran with the Minnesota Mullets recently announced his intention to take the next step in both his education and hockey career at Marian University in Fond du Lac, WI.
Borreson said in an email interview landing in the Twin Cities with the Mullets four years ago was a bit of a last chance effort, but it turned out to be an amazing fit for both the player and team.
“Going into my senior year of high school, I knew I wanted to play juniors,” said Borreson. “I tried out for some other teams, but the opportunities weren’t there for me. Late summer, I got an email about the Mullet’s camp from Mike Frank.”
Frank was the father of Sebastian Frank, a player Borreson had as a teammate on the Blue Devils AAA summer hockey squad.
“I went to the camp and Walbs (Mullets Head Coach Chris Walby) was willing to take me on as a project as something to develop over the years. I’m very grateful he gave me an opportunity and I repaid him by becoming the best player I could for him.”
Coach Walby is thankful for the chance meeting that turned into four seasons of mutual respect and admiration.
“It has been an incredible run for Ben and I over the past four years,” said the coach. “Marian University is getting a great player and an even better person. I’m forever appreciative of his contributions on the ice and the work he’s put into building this organization into something we can all be proud of. I’m incredibly grateful for our time together, the relationship we’ve built and the memories we’ve created.
“For a coach, it’s a special thing to be able to watch a young player and person develop and mature over the course of four years. Ben comes from an amazing family. His parent’s and I couldn’t be prouder of the player and young man he has turned into. It’s already strange for me not to have him here in camp, but I look forward to watching him continue at Marian University and I know I’ll see him at a few Mullie games this season.”
For a player from small town Wisconsin, the move to a higher level of hockey playing in the heart of the Twin Cities was certainly a culture shock.
“The difference from small town Tomah to living in Minneapolis was enough to make my head spin,” recalled Borreson. “I love the way Minnesota embraces hockey like it’s a religion and it fueled my passion even more. It’s two very separate worlds and it has been amazing to be part of both.”
Borreson played three seasons with Frank and the two defenders formed a bond Borreson says will never go away.
“Seb, or as I call him, ‘Baz,’ was my D-partner for my first year and then, off and on for the next two,” said Borreson. We also lived together for two years and during our time on the Mullets, we were inseparable.”
Frank aged out at the end of the 2019-20 season and after a year at school, he has decided to enlist in the US Army.
“We haven’t been near each other much but make lots of effort to talk and visit each other,” said Borreson. “He’s my best friend and will be for life.”
Returning this past season, Borreson knew he would play a leadership role after the aging out of a huge number of Mullets players the previous season and it was tough in a crazy pandemic campaign.
“Fortunately, over my career, there hasn’t been a shortage of good leadership,” said Borreson. “I had plenty of guys to show me the ropes and teach me along the way. The season held many challenges, but thanks to my co-captains and the willingness of the young guys to buy in, it was easy. Mental toughness is something Walbs has preached since I've known him. Everyone learns quickly that no matter what adversity we face we do it as a team and there's no backing down. I realized how important mental toughness is by being a captain and it's a tool for life that I'll live by.”
Borreson talked to several college scouts but decided to focus on Midwest opportunities to stay close to home. From there, he ultimately decided on Marian.
“Aside from loving the school and culture there, Marian is a place that I know my game can grow as well as being close to home,” said Borreson. It has everything I was looking for and future is up to me.”
The play for Borreson is to start with the ACHA club team at Marian and look to impress enough to make the jump to the NCAA Division 3 squad next fall.
“Obviously, I have my sights set on the D3 team, but regardless of the outcome, I can play competitive hockey no matter what and it will shake out the way it shakes out,” said the forward.
Borreson will be returning to school for the first time in a few years and looks forward to studying as Bio major “With the idea the door is open for me to be pre-med if I have a passion for it.
“Who knows what I’ll be interested in once I get back to school, but it seemed like the best place to start.”
Catrinas Cerveza & Grill - St. Anthony
2510 Kenzie Terrace, St. Anthony, MN 55418