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Olli Makes His Return

By Brandon Laxson, 04/12/24, 6:15PM CDT


Buffalo, Minnesota Native Happy To Be Back

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The Minnesota Mullets Head Coach and General Manager Chris Walby today announced defenseman Olli Niemela will return for his second season with the team in 2024-25.

“Olli had a fantastic rookie year,” said Head Coach Walby. “One of the best parts about being a coach is watching players develop over the course of the season and Olli’s game grew a ton.”

Niemela, 18 (4/3/2006), collected six points (2-4=6) and 20 penalty minutes in 42 regular season games and two playoff games with the Mullets in 2023-24, playing in all but two games in his rookie season. Among team defenders he was T-2nd in goals and power-play goals (1), third in points and fourth in assists.

The opportunity to keep playing the game was an obvious choice for Niemela. “Everyday is fun with the Mullets. You can look forward to every practice and game.”

“I have to give a shout-out to HP who can fix any problem you have with your equipment,” he added.

Coach Walby was very pleased with Niemela in his first campaign with his new squad. “Olli had a fantastic rookie year. One of the best parts about being a coach is watching players develop over the course of the season and Olli’s game grew a ton.”

Prior to the Mullets, the 6-foot, 200-pound native of Buffalo, Minn., skated in 16 games for Buffalo High School and recorded four assists in 2022-23.

The jump from high school to junior play can be difficult for some, but Niemela handled the transition well. His first year taught him use his size to his advantage. “You have to be very physical and competitive,” he said. “You can't take shifts off and have to play tough.”

Niemela first came to the Mullets when he participated in an on-ice workout. His potential was there from the start and Coach Walby could see he would be an impact player, but he “knew it was going to take a full season to get him there.”

Being a younger player, having celebrated his 18th birthday only a few days ago, he has plenty of time to continue his development “into a star at this level and beyond. He skates well with and without the puck, has a solid skill set, competes hard and is a big and physical kid.”

As he adjusted to the higher pace of the league, “he started to see his role increase in December and never looked back.” From December 15 to the end of the season, Niemela’s discipline greatly improved, taking only one minor penalty through 21 games. 

“We expect big things out of him this season and I’m excited to watch his growth continue,” noted the coach.

“I loved my first year with the Mullets,” Niemela said looking forward to next year, “and I'm excited to see the new faces on the team and possibly on the staff.”

Interested in joining the Mullets? Please contact GM Chris Walby at Minnesota Mullets single-game tickets are available at Mullets home games are played at Augsburg University Ice Arena, 2323 Riverside Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55454. Post games at The Corner Bar. 

For more information, please visit and be sure to follow @MulletsJrHockey on X and @mulletsjrhockey on Instagram to stay up-to-date on all things Mullies!