Monday, June 24, 2013

Tom Younghans Named Northern Lights Head Coach

Former Minnesota North Stars +NHL player Tom Younghans has been named the new head coach of the +Twin Cities Northern Lights.  Most recently Younghans was the head coach of the Eagan High School girls team, who finished last season with a 20-10-1 record and were Minnesota State Tournament Consolation champions.

Younghans knows quite a bit about hard work, moving up and winning. He was part of the +Minnesota Gophers 1976 NCAA national championship team under Herb Brooks. After turning professional, Younghans played six seasons with the Minnesota North Stars (1976-81) and N.Y. Rangers (1981-82). Younghans played with the USA Hockey National Team on three different occasions and has invested decades mentoring aspiring players and leading clinics.

Coach Younghans is already out at the rinks scouting prospective players and is eager to begin personally investing into this year’s team. Younghans is especially pleased that he will lead the team overseas for two weeks during the 2014 +Olympics saying, “hockey created the opportunity for me to travel internationally and it opened my eyes to a larger world, expanding my horizons. I am excited about helping put these young men in a position to succeed as my mentors have done for me.”

New Assistant Coach Craig Shepherd, another Minnesotan, brings decades of expertise in systems coaching, power skating and off ice development. After being a Minnesota State Champion with Edina HS in 1984, and spending time in the USHL, Shepherd played at +Michigan State Athletics, competing in two NCAA Frozen Fours (1987 and 1989). He earned his Bachelors degree in Communications at MSU. 
Shepherd went on to play professionally for HC Dynamo Moscow and EV Duisburg (Germany).

Shepherd transitioned into competing in pairs figure skating which led to a coaching career in professional skating before becoming assistant coach with the HC Dynamo Moscow. He has been mentored under the "who's-who" list in hockey like Jack Blatherwick, Bob Johnson, Lou Vario, Art Bergland and several Russian and Slovakian top hockey names. Most recently Shepherd has been the program director for DART (Dynamo Authentic Russian Training) and is a strong complement to Younghans style and skill set. He too is excited about the Russia trip and will be a great resource for setting up the exhibition games surrounding the Olympic torch route. As with our 2006 Torino and 2010 Vancouver trips, the +Minnesota Junior Hockey League has graciously accommodated this large break for the Lights in February, who will return just in time for a playoff run to defend their title.

Rob Shuman joins the management team as Director of Hockey Operations. He’s one of the founders/original owners of Athletic Performance Academy, has served as a scout for the Omaha Lancers (USHL) and administrated the Elite League. Shuman currently is the League Administrator for District 6 and has been actively engaged in the Minnesota Hockey Education Program (HEP) and other committee work. He is eager to leverage his connections to bring youth hockey and business connections. The staff have also inked Doug Hensom as assistant coach.

"These new connections have brought more billet families, new volunteers and new marketing possibilities," said GM/President +Ross Smith. "With six home games and home playoff games scheduled for Ridder Arena (University of Minnesota), and new staff eager to bring their ideas, we have a renewed energy that is already translating into positive administrative results. We're looking forward to see the team this staff will assemble and what they will do to help the players develop."

Saturday, June 15, 2013

2013 College Commitments


2013 College Commitments for +Twin Cities Northern Lights veterans:

Last update on October 31, 2013.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Storm Tab Bittner, Largen As New Assistants

From Tri-City Storm:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

KEARNEY, Neb. – After a national search, the Tri-City Storm have chosen two coaches, J.B. Bittner and Erik Largen, to complement head coach Josh Hauge as assistants. Combined, the two new members of the staff have almost a decade of experience at both the professional and collegiate levels of hockey.

“It was a tiresome process,” Hauge said. “We had over 50 applicants and a lot of people that were very interested in the job. I had a lot of help from both our owner Kirk Brooks and our president Greg Shea, just trying to sort through everything and make a determination.”

Bittner comes to Kearney after a two-year stint as an assistant with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL. The Pittsburgh, Penn. native helped guide the Stingrays to an overall record of 38-26-5 and a playoff berth in 2012-13.

“J.B. will work with the defenseman,” Hauge said. “His team in South Carolina had one of the best penalty killing units in the East Coast League last year so that will be an area he has a lot of responsibility with.”

Before the Stingrays, Bittner spent three seasons as an assistant coach and video coordinator with his alma mater, Ohio State. The 31-year-old was a forward with the Buckeyes for four seasons and registered 76 points on 37 goals and 39 assists in 160 career collegiate games. He also served as team captain in 2004, leading his squad to a CCHA Super Six Championship title. OSU reached the NCAA Tournament in three of Bittner’s four seasons.

After his college career came to an end, Bittner played professionally for four seasons in both the ECHL and AHL as a member of eight different franchises. They include the Dayton Bombers, Johnstown Chiefs, Augusta Lynx, Idaho Steelheads, Florida Everblades, Syracuse Crunch, Portland Pirates and Iowa Stars.

But Bittner started in the USHL, appearing in 108 games with the Sioux Falls Stampede from 1999-2001. During his two seasons with the Stampede, he scored a total of 43 goals and 54 assists.

“He was a great player,” Hauge said of his new assistant. “He played in the USHL and in college, so he’s been through the process and knows what our guys will be going through. He also worked for a great staff and university at Ohio State so he brings a little bit of everything and he’ll make a difference on our staff right away.”

The Storm have also found some help for their goaltenders in between the pipes with new assistant coach and former collegiate netminder, Erik Largen.

The Fairbanks, Alaska native played for his hometown team, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks from 2006-08 before beginning his coaching career as an assistant to current Storm head coach Josh Hauge with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).

The two had success together in Fairbanks, compiling an overall record of 72-37-7 and reached the National Championship in two consecutive seasons, winning the title in 2011.

“I worked with [Largen] for two years and we had a lot of success because of what he did,” Hauge said. “He’s a tireless worker, a guy who will help in any way he can, and he’s great with goaltenders.”

Largen, who is now 26-years-old, took over his own program after Hauge left Fairbanks and had immediate success with the +Twin Cities Northern Lights of the +Minnesota Junior Hockey League (MNJHL). There Largen compiled an overall record of 87-9-2 over two seasons and won back-to-back regular season and league championships.

“It’s like a family hire for me because that’s what he is,” Hauge said. “I’m really excited about him.”

The two coaches will replace the vacancy left by former assistant coaches Eric Fink and Lenny Hofmann.

“The biggest characteristics I looked for were hard-working guys that are fun to be around and who will bring energy to the rink,” Hauge said. “I wanted a couple blue-collar guys that are willing to put in long hours.”

The first task for the newly formed staff will be to evaluate their team for the upcoming season during training camp.

“I think it’s great we’re bringing two guys to camp that have never seen a lot of these players and don’t have preconceived notions of them,” Hauge said. “Everybody’s got a fair shot and it doesn’t matter if you’re a first round pick or you’re a guy who is just trying out and we’ve never seen you before. We’re going to give everyone a fair look. Our new staff will be able to give a different opinion and I’m looking for honest evaluations from them.”

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Coulee Region Chill Announce Coaching Staff; Largen To Join Degenhardt

From - Edited for Northern Lights Hockey blog by Scott Ludwig.
Coulee Region Chill Announce Coaching Staff

Coulee Region Chill Announce Coaching Staff
April 17, 2013
Onalaska, WI --- The Coulee Region Chill, proud members of the +North American Hockey League are excited to announce that +AJ Degenhardt has been promoted to Head Coach and General Manager. Degenhardt was hired last summer as Assistant Coach and subsequently named Interim Head Coach upon John Hamre’s departure. “AJ’s vision for the team is very much in alignment with our vision for the Chill. There is still rebuilding work to be done and AJ is the right person to take this team to the next level. AJ will have the opportunity to build his own roster while providing our team with continuity. AJ has earned the respect of his players and they’re excited to return and play for him next season and we expect significant improvement over last year’s team performance.” says, team owner Michelle Bryant.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity of taking over as Head Coach and General Manager of the Coulee Region Chill and laying a foundation for a winning program for years to come,” said Degenhardt.

Prior to joining the Coulee Region Chill, Degenhardt was with Team Illinois Midget Major. Before Team Illinois he was the head coach for two seasons with the +Twin Cities Northern Lights, a +Minnesota Junior Hockey League team (Tier III).
Degenhardt, a Coulee Region hometown hockey player, played for the La Crosse Central/Logan High School hockey co-op. He then moved on to play for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL for two years. His ultimate goal of playing Division 1 hockey came to reality in 2002 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he won a National Championship as a member of the +Wisconsin Badgers. Since graduation he has quickly built a strong list of coaching credentials and experience at the high school, midget and junior hockey levels.

Erik Largen – New Assistant Coach for the Coulee Region Chill

The Coulee Region Chill is also excited to announce the hiring of Erik Largen as their new Assistant Coach. Most recently, Largen was head coach of the +Twin Cities Northern Lights. Largen compiled an 87-9-2 record over two seasons with the Northern Lights, winning back-to-back regular season and playoff championships. In 2012 the team qualified for the national tournament finishing 5th while in the most recent season the team finished as the runner-up in the USA Hockey Tier III National Championship.

Prior to coaching, Erik played junior hockey for the North Iowa Outlaws & Owatonna Express (NAHL) before committing to play for the University of Alaska Fairbanks (NCAA Division 1) in 2006. Upon graduating with a finance degree, Largen began his coaching career as an assistant coach with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs (NAHL) under mentors Rob Proffitt (Fairbanks Ice Dogs GM) and +Josh Hauge (Tri-City Storm Head Coach). Largen helped the Ice Dogs compile a 72-37-7 overall record, including National Championship runners-up in 2010 and Tier II National Champions in 2011.

“Erik’s work ethic and commitment to building a winning program stood out in a very competitive interview process,” says Bryant. “Having two coaches of AJ and Erik’s caliber will help us recruit while better developing our players and team. Both understand our team vision and the importance of growing a community minded program.”

“I am very happy to have Erik become a part of our program, he has been a winner at every level he has coached and will be a very valuable asset to our team”, stated Degenhardt.

“I am very excited to join the Coulee Region Chill organization. It’s a program committed to being involved in the community, creating a pathway to college hockey for its players and building a championship culture,” said Largen.

Original artice found here:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Northern Lights/Steers In The Pros

Several +Twin Cities Northern Lights (formerly known as South Suburban Steers) veterans are playing pro hockey:
Sean Curry
Jesse Felten

Name, Hometown - Current Team (League) - 20012-13 stats
In addition, the Northern Lights have a history of giving high potential coaches the opportunity to develop and advance in their professional careers:

Monday, April 08, 2013

Northern Lights Fall Short In Title Game

It has been 14 years since a Minnesota Junior Hockey League (MNJHL) team has won the USA Hockey Tier III National title. Twin Cities Northern Lights tried to end that streak today, but fell short losing to the North Iowa Bulls 6-2.

Not since 2002, when the now-defunct Iron Range Yellow Jackets lost in OT of the national championship game, had a MNJHL team reached the finals. It was 1999 when the Edina Lakers Junior Hockey (then the East Metro Lakers) won the USA Hockey National Championship.

A quick start for the Northern Lights seemed to put the team on track in the first period. Zach Hayes (Canyon Lake, CA) scored at 6:38 for a 1-0 lead. Gleb Kulikov (Russia) and Dylan Blankenship (Fairbanks, AK) assisted on the goal. Twin Cities carried that momentum for most of the period until a late North Iowa goal tied it at 18:41.

North Iowa, the NA3HL Silver Cup champions, came into the second period with energy and got their reward on a powerplay goal at 10:43. A little over five minutes later, the Bulls took a 3-1 lead and momentum into the second intermission.

A flat start to the third period called for a Northern Lights timeout from Head Coach Erik Largen. The team responded and at 13:13 Hayes again found the back of the net. Jonas Fredriksson (Sweden) and Seth Gustin (Phoenix, AZ) earned the helpers on the goal, which made the score 3-2.

Two quick goals at 16:53 and 17:06 sealed the deal for North Iowa, who also added an empty net goal for a final of 6-2.

Bulls goaltender Matt Bartels made 38 saves in net for the victory. Isaak Tjaden (Northfield, MN) finished with 30 saves for Twin Cities.