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.”