The Minnesota Mullets have another recruit to announce: the team has added forward Oliver Craft to the roster for the 2022-23 season.
The Mesa, Ariz., native joins the Mullets alongside several other Arizona-born teammates such as the Mullies’ newest Arizona recruit Ben Wilcoxson and veterans Austin Poole, Tyler Ortega, and Brent Scott.
His Arizona roots, and more particularly Ben Wilcoxson himself, played a major factor in Craft’s decision to join the Mullets. “I was lucky to have my friend, Ben, chime in for me, giving me the chance to talk to Coach,” he mentioned. “Ben is super awesome and his travel team always smoked mine so I’m super excited to be able to play with him” instead of against him.
Some would say Wilcoxson is a highly reputable source of information. Those “some” would include Mullets’ Head Coach Chris Walby who mentioned, “I was thrilled when Oliver signed earlier this month. I received a great reference from a trusted source and things went well from there.” With a great reference and great stats, Craft will make a great addition to the squad… and only time will tell if Wilcoxson has a future in scouting.
The forward and the coach have already established a solid connection which bodes well for the player-and-coach dynamic. “After a lot of talking to Coach Walby, I found him to be a stand-up, honest guy with a mindset just like mine,” said Craft.
On Craft as a player, Coach Walby noted, “Ollie is a left handed power forward with a scoring touch. He plays a physical game and skates well, especially for his size.” As a person, the coach had even better things to say, “He’s a good kid, works hard, has skill and is going to fit in fantastic here. I’m really excited for the opportunity to coach and further develop him. I think it’s going to be a great run.”
Coaching staff and teammates aside, several other factors also played a role in Craft’s decision to play in the Twin Cities; namely the location and the competition. “From the unreal setup at the U, the winning culture that comes with it, [and] the perfect hockey focused schedule,” he seemed to find everything he was looking for in his advancement of his playing career.
“And how could you not want to be a part of a team called ‘the Mullets’?” he playfully added.
Between the 2020-21 and the 2021-22 seasons, Craft double-dipped between playing for the Arizona Hockey Union 18U AA program and high school hockey; playing one season at Campo Verde High and one season at Corona del Sol High. Meanwhile he was still attending Highland High School, which doesn’t have a team, noted the forward.
“I played for Campo Verde until all my friends graduated, and then switched the next year to play with some other friends… Corona was a division higher that year as well.”
The advancement to a higher level of play proved to raise a bar that Craft was willing to meet. In his time with Campo Verde, he recorded three points (0-3=3) in 10 games. After transferring to Corona del Sol, he improved to 19 points (11-8=19) in the same amount of games, averaging nearly two points per game. He ranked T-2nd in goals and fourth in assists and scoring.
Clearly something special happens when the pressure is on and the bar is raised. The future is bright for the forward, giving Mullets fans and Coach Walby a reason to be excited.
“I really look forward to playing with players that are all here for the same reason, and that’s to get better and move up,” he concluded.