Shawn Lehtinen, Charlie Weick and Brock Olson have played hockey since they were youngsters. This year, as seniors, they will provide leadership to the Minnesota River Bulldog hockey team as tri-captains.
Lehtinen started playing hockey when he was 6.
“My neighbors had a rink in their backyard, and I tried out skating on it one day and fell in love instantly.”
He played soccer for St. Peter last fall and will play baseball this spring, but he likes the unique facets that hockey brings.
“I love the team aspect and how each player has a specific role. I also enjoy the fast speed of the game.”
Lehtinen enjoys his position as a defender because the action is in front of him. The challenge is being where he needs to be.
“I like that I can see everything happening in front of me during the game and being able to read the situation and react. The challenging part of defense is not getting caught out of position and the tough battles in the corner to get control of the puck.”
He worked on his skills during a couple of camps over the course of last spring and summer. He said his shot has gotten better since last season, and his ability to think on the ice has improved, but he still wants to be a better skater. He also wants to become a stronger vocal leader and have a bigger responsibility in guiding the Bulldogs deep into the 2020 playoffs.
“I would like to play a larger leadership role this season. I will be a good example for the underclassmen in the program on and off the ice, and continue to keep a positive attitude when things aren’t going our way.”
The Bulldogs made it to the state torment last year, and Lehtinen says the they have what it takes this season to continue with that kind of success.
“It will take a lot of hard work and dedication that I feel this team is willing to bring. This year’s team plays with a lot of grit, and everyone is willing to go to the tough areas to score. To be successful we will need to play to our strengths as a team and all buy into the game plan.
Weick has been playing hockey since he was four.
“I like playing hockey because I like being part of a team and playing with the same group of guys since I was little.”
He managed the Le Sueur-Henderson football team in the fall, plays Giant baseball in the spring, and plays golf with friends in the summer, but he likes the thrill of putting the puck in the net as well as handing the puck off for his teammates to score.
“My favorite part about being a winger is that I get to score goals and get assists.”
So far, he has 22 career varsity goals and 42 assists, but working hard to become a better player, he spent the time between his junior and senior years attending hockey camps three days a week.
“Playing hockey all summer long helped to improve my game,” he said, “but I want improve on getting to know my new line mates and how they play. My individual goal for the season is to be a good leader and a good role model for guys on the team. I want to be a vocal leader and lead by example on and off the ice. I try to make the guys around me better.”
His objective for the Bulldogs is to make another playoff run.
“Our team is young, but if those younger guys step up and play big it should make for a fun season. Winning some big games early in the season should keep the winning momentum going.”
Olson, who also played football at Cleveland, first picked up a hockey stick at the tender age of three.
“I like playing hockey because just meeting the guys from different teams, and it’s not like any other sport
He is a forward.
“I like the position because it is very fast paced. What makes it challenging is the pace of the game.”
To up his game in the offseason, Olson participated in a 4-vs-4 league in Mankato. He still wants to improve his stick handling, he said.
“My goal as an individual is to be the best player and leader I can be. I think that I’m a vocal leader. I will provide this by keeping a good attitude throughout the season
His goal for the Bulldogs as a whole is for them to play the best they can every game. That, and confidence will be the keys to another fruitful season.
“This year can be successful by hard work and believing in each other.”
Lehtinen, Weick, Olson and the rest of the Bulldogs debut today (Tuesday, November 26) at home against Mankato West. The puck drops at 7:30 pm.