FOLLOWING THE FLOW
Former Mullets Captain Hansen Reflects on First Year of College Hockey
By: Dan Bradley
DULUTH, MN -- Junior hockey places a heavy emphasis on player development and advancement, but what happens to these young men after they move on to compete at a higher level?
Former Minnesota Mullets captain Jon Hansen recently finished his first year at the College of St. Scholastica (NCAA D-III) in Duluth, MN, and took some time to discuss his experience, as well as shed some light on what future collegiate hockey players can expect when their junior hockey career comes to a close.
“I was really nervous for both my first class and first practice,” Hansen said. “Our first formal practice wasn’t until October, so I had some time to settle in. Luckily, I had a month of Captain’s practice to ease my way in to playing with my teammates. The speed and pace of practice was a big difference (from juniors), but I felt ready for it.”
Hansen’s hometown of Twig, MN is just a 20-minute drive down Highway 53, but despite the proximity to home, it was a still a major adjustment for the newest member of the Saints to make.
“It was a big change, but a good change,” Hansen said. “After a couple weeks, it just started to be a routine. I was a little overwhelmed the first week, but then I got a lot more comfortable in practice.”
Hansen made his debut with St. Scholastica on November 2, in a game against the Aurora Spartans.
“Playing that first game as a Saint was a blur at times,” Hansen recalled. “I was just kind of running all over the place. I had a lot less time to make decisions (than in Juniors). That was definitely the biggest difference. Everything is faster.”
It didn’t take long for Hansen to find his way onto the stat sheet; In the fourth game of the season, he scored his first collegiate goal against the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) Raiders.
“Scoring that first goal was huge for me,” said Hansen. “It was in the first period and their d-man was breaking the puck out. I saw him take a look to his far-side winger, and I stepped up to pick off his pass on the right side of the ice. I walked in on the goalie who stopped my first shot, but luckily the rebound dropped right to my stick and I slapped it in the net.”
“I started to play a lot better after that game.”
In 22 games this season, Hansen scored 3 Goals and added 7 Assists. After a frustrating season, in which the Saints posted an 11-13-1 record (5th in NCHA – North Division), Hansen is committed to improving himself on and off the ice.
“On the ice, I need to be in even better physical shape, so I can make a bigger contribution to the team next year,” Hansen said. “The biggest piece of advice I can give to players making the jump from juniors to college hockey is to work on quick decision-making and be in good shape when the season starts.”
Saints Head Coach Tim Madsen agreed with Hansen’s assessment of his own play, and the season as a whole.
“Jon had a great season for us,” Madsen said. “He had a very good first half of the season and was a pleasant surprise in a lot of ways. We love his (hockey sense) and he can obviously rip a puck! His second half the season wasn’t as successful, and his fitness level was a part of that. He is going to work on that, and I know he is going to have a good career here!”
Hansen has not yet decided on a major.
Hansen is one of 33 players from Mullets Head Coach Chris Walby’s programs to advance to the NCAA level over the past seven years. For more information on the Mullets program, go to www.mulletshockey.com.