Fire and Ice: Junior hockey has been one enjoyable ride for Austin defenseman Looft – Post Bulletin

AUSTIN — Nate Looft and his teammates would smile or giggle a bit bit once they’d listen the sirens of the fireplace vehicles that have been headed their manner.

They knew they have been about to give an explanation for a false impression.

“We didn’t have much to do after practice,” Looft stated, “so we’d go out in the woods and build a fort, have bonfires — we might have had the fire department called on us a few times; they thought there was a forest fire.”

That used to be existence closing hockey season, in northern Saskatchewan, for the 2020 Mankato West High School graduate. When observe and off-ice exercises are finished by way of 1 p.m. maximum days, it leaves numerous time to fill.

Instead of discovering hassle, Looft and his teammates with the La Ronge Ice Wolves — the northernmost workforce within the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League — would make the most of the miles and miles of lakes and forests that have been densely populated with timber, at the doorstep of Lac La Ronge Provincial Park.

Sometimes it supposed reducing and hauling fallen logs to construct a castle. Other instances, on specifically chilly days when the Canadian wind blew from the north, it supposed development fires that have been sufficiently small to be secure, however large enough to alert native government.

“Everything. I loved everything about it up there,” stated Looft, now in his first season as an assistant captain for the Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League. “I had a fantastic billet family. They are salt of the earth people; had three great kids and they made the experience great for me.

“The coaches, the (teammates) were great. We were kind of in a secluded little town. There’s not much to do up there other than hang out with the guys. We’d find stuff to do. By no means am I the handyman who built the fort, but I’d like to think I did my share of the gathering and played my role.”

That’s precisely what the Bruins expect from Looft, a 5-toes-11, 200-pound defenseman, this season — to play his position — and the position he performs is a large explanation why he’s been named one of the workforce’s 4 captains.

“With Nate, we know exactly what we’re getting from him,” Austin head trainer Steve Howard stated. “He’s a big body, he’s going to throw his body around and hit people, and he’s not afraid of anybody.”

To take it a step additional, Looft is a man that each workforce wishes, the quintessential fourth-line difficult that each workforce wishes.

“The coaches here have made it pretty clear,” Looft stated. “They want me to be a good person and a leader, on and off the ice. Being an older guy — I might have the most junior hockey games played on the team — they want me to show the young guys the ropes.

“On the ice, it’s also very clear — block shots, be physical, stand up for teammates, kill penalties. I’m totally fine with that. There are a lot of hockey teams out there that need those players. If that’s what it takes to get to the next level, then that’s what it takes. I have no issue with that.”

Looft — whose brother Kyle performed for the Bruins within the 2016-17 season and is now a senior captain at Division I Bemidji State University — is a key piece of the puzzlie this season for a Bruins workforce this is off to a 4-0 get started after going undefeated on the season-opening NAHL Showcase closing week in Blaine. True to shape, Looft had one level in the ones 4 video games, and 17 general penalty mins.

His psychological and bodily toughness have advanced over years of loving to play the sport. Some extent-in line with-recreation participant in highschool, he has been greater than prepared to business a few of the ones issues for penalty mins. He began his junior hockey profession with the Tier III New Ulm Steel in 2020-21, when he had 15 issues and 64 penalty mins in 31 video games. At La Ronge closing season, Looft had 25 issues and 124 penalty mins in 45 video games.

Now he is a junior hockey veteran and a pace-setter for Austin, which performs at St. Cloud these days, then performs its first house recreation of the common season at 7:05 p.m. Saturday towards NAHL Central Division rival St. Cloud.

“You have to be willing to work, no matter what level you’re at,” he stated. “Look at me. I started out in the (North American 3 Hockey League), bumped up to the SJ(HL) last year and now I’m here, in Austin.

“It’s not always just ‘oh man, I’m going to get done with high school then go play in the USHL or North American league immediately. It doesn’t just happen like that. You have to be willing to work for it.”

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