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Edina Lakers Tap Joe Long as Next Head Coach

By Nick Clark/MnJHL Director of Media Relations, 04/19/11, 6:55PM CDT


Resume includes First-Team D-III All-American status

Intent on sticking to a philosophy that focuses on developing hockey players for a chance to play at the college level, the Edina Lakers dipped into the college hockey well to find their next head coach.
Joe Long, who was both a player and recruiter for Division III Hamline University, recently accepted the head coaching position with the Lakers.
He brings with him not only a wealth of experience from the college level, but also an understanding of what life as a player can be like at the junior level.
A graduate of Elk River High School in Elk River, Minn., Long won a Minnesota High School state championship in 2001, then embarked upon a one-season stay with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League (USHL).
There, Long not only developed into the player that had a four-year college career earmarked with a Minnesota Intecollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Player of the Year recognition and a spot on the All-American First Team, but he also gained a respect for those willing to continue their playing career by taking the junior hockey route.
“I can relate with the players at a different level,” Long said. “I’ve lived that life, and I know what it takes to turn the opportunity into a chance to play college hockey. The kids we are going to go after want to play college hockey, and I’m here to help them and show them that it can be done.”
That process will begin in earnest this summer. Long, who officially took over the coaching duties in Edina shortly after the Lakers season ended, has already made recruiting trips into Wisconsin and the Chicago area. He has another recruiting trip scheduled for Colorado, and will also recruit Minnesota hard.
The players he will be watching may come from different locations, and have various backgrounds, but he understands the goals are the same, regardless of if a player comes from the heart of Edina, or places such as Florida or California.
“They want to move on, whether it’s into another junior hockey league or to college,” Long said. “What better place to be seen than right here. With all the Minnesota and Wisconsin schools right in our own backyard, they will be seen. We have an advantage, because this is where hockey is. Everywhere you look, there’s a place to play.”
The one adjustment Long said he will have to get used to is the quality of play at the Tier III level. In his playing days, the perception was if a player wanted to play in college, the only way was through either Tier I or Tier II junior hockey.
For a refresher, Long spent the early portion of April taking in the Tier III Junior A National Tournament in Rochester. His impressions proved just how far the Tier III game has come.
“The skill level was so impressive,” Long said. “It was a different level of hockey than what it was even five years ago. There are so many more players, and those players are so much better than they used to be. It’s not Slapshot anymore, where everybody is fighting. It was real good hockey.”
The opportunity to build a team that can compete at that level is what endured Long to the Lakers brass.
“His plans for recruiting and his coaching philosophy really impressed us,” said Edina president and CEO Ralph Hayne. “His personal hockey leadership and skills experience makes him an ideal candidate for coaching in this league. I believe he’s going to bring a high level of energy and enthusiasm that will foster a great coach and player working relationship leading to success in developing and preparing our athletes for next season.”
Long’s staff will include longtime friend Joe Lorentz. Lorentz played at the Tier III level for the Phoenix Polar Bears of the Western States Hockey League in 2005, helping Phoenix to a 36-0 league record and earning an WSHL All-Star nod.
Lorentz then went on to play with Long at Hamline, where the two were roommates and forged a relationship that will transfer into Edina this coming season.
“He’ll make my job easier,” said Long. “He’s well-connected with high school hockey, and he knows this league and this level of play. We’ve grown up together ever since college, so it will be fun to take on this challenge together.”
The Edina Lakers will hold their try-out camp Aug. 12-14 at Minnesota Made in Edina.