Six alums, including four members of the “2015 Perfect Panthers,” (Lakeville North's undefeated 2015 Minnesota State High School Hockey Champions) will be taking the ice this weekend in the 2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament.
The St. Cloud State Huskies enteres the tournament with the number 1 ranking and a huge Lakeville Panther hockey presence. With four former North captains, three members of the winningest state champion team in Minnesota history and a first round NHL draft pick, the Huskies were the early favorites to make their way to the Frozen Four at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Sophomores Nick Poehling, Ryan Poehling, and Jack Poehling could be playing in the same rink where they made history for the only Minnesota high school team to win 31 games in a season. The Poehlings may be hoisting the NCAA trophy at the X with former Panther captain Blake Winiecki. A senior forward on this year’s Husky team Winiecki was a three-year Panther letterman and senior captain for head coach Trent Eigners’ first season in Lakeville in 2012.
"Blake is a phenomenal kid and a class act," stated Eigner, " His work ethic and dedication to our program where a springboard for many of the successes we had following his departure."
St. Cloud State (25-8-6) will be playing in the West Region in Sioux Falls, SD. One of the teams they could potentially face would be Minnesota State (29-9-1). If anyone knows how to shut down the Poehlings, it just might be Maverick Freshman and fellow “Perfect Panther” alumni Jack McNeely.
"Guys like Jack were becoming more and more the norm rather than the exception in our program," stated Eigner commenting on the quality of homegrown talent. "We begin to see a level of commitment, discipline and passion that were all serious catalysts for our improvements."
A freshman goalie for the ’14 Panthers, Jake Oettinger was a member of Lakeville’s first team to ever appear in the state championship game.
"Jake was a kid with unflappable confidence and a joy for playing his position," commented Eigner, "His teammates responded very well to him and his progression was fun to watch and continues to be."
Oettinger has been riding hockey’s golden path to fame and glory. He was selected to participate in the US Hockey Development Program in Ann Arbor MI. The same path blazed by Lakeville hockey residents and first round NHL draft picks Jordan Schroeder (LHA Development) and Brady Skjei (LNHS ’09-’10).
Oettinger was selected in the first round of 2017 NHL draft by the Dallas Stars. He now has a chance to help the Boston University Terriers (21-13-4) win the NCAA title.
Next Trophy to Hoist at the X