Minnesota Hockey Magazine

Panthers Reload in Goal

Lakeville North’s Ryan Edquist in action at  USA Hockey’s 2014 Boys Select 16 Player Development Camp in July. (USA Hockey Photo) 

Ryan Edquist fills void for Lakeville North boys hockey

 

When Lakeville North’s freshman goaltender Jake Oettinger announced last spring that he was leaving the Panthers to play for the USA National Team Development Program, North questioned how to fill the void on the back end of their defense.

The answer came just two months later.

Junior goaltender Ryan Edquist made the decision in June to return to Lakeville after attending Shattuck-St. Mary’s for the past two years. For his future teammates, it is surreal to have Edquist in net for Lakeville North in 2014-2015.

“Hearing that he was coming at first almost seemed like it wasn’t really happening,” sophomore right wing Henry Enebak said. “Seeing him in a North jersey made us all realize we found our guy.”

Edquist had already verbally committed to the University of Minnesota his sophomore year of high school, which took the recruitment pressure off. That decision, combined with avoiding the high cost of tuition at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, made the opportunity to join an already strong Lakeville North team too good to pass up.

“There was the opportunity to come back and play with the friends I grew up with and have a chance to be on a really good team with a lot of great guys and a chance to win a state tournament,” Edquist said.

One of the benefactors of Edquist’s decision, Lakeville North head coach Trent Eigner, knows that the goalie situation couldn’t have worked out any better for the Panthers.

“It’s beyond fortunate,” Eigner said. “We’re in a situation where we lose a good goaltender and we probably get a better goaltender. It’s not something that happens everyday.”

Shattuck-St. Mary’s is the former home of almost 60 NHL draft picks, with Sidney Crosby, Zach Parise, and Jonathan Toews just a few NHL stars to have come from the school. In practice and games, Edquist faced a high level of competition, which challenged him to achieve a high level of play.

Coach Eigner has not only seen this high level of play but also a high level of maturity from his new man in the net.

“For a high school kid, you could call him a professional,” Eigner said. “He’s very serious about the game, very focused on his preparation and the time and effort that he puts in to become a great goaltender.”

If Edquist’s pedigree wasn’t already enough, Eigner has “all the confidence in the world” in him because of the preparation the junior goaltender puts in.

“He pays close attention to the details,” Eigner said of Edquist. “Everything from his flexibility to his nutrition, to his workout routine. That’s what I like about him. He’s not only passionate about it, but he’s very serious about what it takes to be good.”

The departed Jake Oettinger helped lead the Panthers to the state title game where they fell 8-2 to Edina. (MHM Photo / Jordan Doffing)

The departed Jake Oettinger helped lead the Panthers to the state title game where they fell 8-2 to Edina. (MHM Photo / Jordan Doffing)

Despite the talented Oettinger who preceded him, Edquist isn’t worried about the pressure that comes from being in the net for Lakeville North.

“I’m just here to stop the puck,” Edquist said. “I don’t know if there’s a lot of pressure, but I’m just here to try and have fun with it and take in all the great experiences that come with it.”

In the home opener, Edquist will experience an early, high-pressure situation as the Panthers face the reigning state champion Edina Hornets. After watching the state final last year, in which North fell to Edina 8-2, Edquist is excited to experience the rivalry first-hand.

“Ames [Arena] will be packed and it will be such a fun game to play in,” Edquist said. “It’s going to be a big game and everybody knows that.”

The Panthers return almost the entirety of their top lines from their state championship appearance. The three Poehling brothers, Jack, Nick, and Ryan, are all three headed to play collegiate hockey for St. Cloud State. Gopher commit Jack Sadek and University of Nebraska-Omaha commit Jack McNeely head a defense that has been touted as one of the best in the state.

But Edquist hopes he can be the one to put his team over the top and give Lakeville North its first state title in boys hockey.

“Hopefully I can be a game changer,” Edquist said. “When they need a switch in momentum, I’ll be there to shut the door.”