24 in 24 Series: Minnesota Magicians
August 29, 2016
The 24 in 24 series features a look at all 24 teams in the NAHL for the 2016-17 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 24 in 24 looks into each NAHL team and will include video interviews with all 24 head coaches in the NAHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the season, including taking a look at their strengths as a team and thoughts on the league. It will also take a look back on last season and how each team fared and what they accomplished.
Head Coach: Scott Meyer (3rd year)
2015-16 record: 24-28-8, 56 pts. (5th in the Central Division)
2015-16 leading scorer: Casey Jerry (48 points)
2016 Playoffs: Did not qualify
2016-17 Division: Midwest
First regular season game: Friday, September 16th vs. Springfield Jr. Blues
Home opener: Friday, September 16th vs. Springfield Jr. Blues
The Minnesota Magicians season last year resembled a roller coaster. Not even two months into the 2015-16 season, the team got off to a very lukewarm start, going 4-8-1 in their first 13 games. As a result, they parted ways with head coach Tom Upton and General Manager Scott Meyer took over for the remainder of the season. Meyer had coached the Magicians in their inaugural season of 2013-14.
The team responded after the coaching change and got over the .500 mark at one point, but the season came to a heart-breaking end as a win on the final day was not enough, falling one win short of the final playoff spot in the Central Division. Both the Magicians and the Brookings Blizzard finished with 56 points, but the Magicians 24 wins was one less than the Blizzard.
“The bottom line is we need to be more competitive and win more games. I thought we were a team that got into penalty trouble and that will end up costing you goals and wins,” said Meyer. “I think we also need to get better on special teams and find some players with some more skill. We saw that one win the difference between making the playoff and staying home, so we will try and do those things for more success.”
All was not lost as the Magicians were a major contributor to the NAHL record-breaking total of 259 NCAA commitments, as 10 players from the Magicians were part of that group. “The NAHL is a great option for players to realize their college hockey dreams. After that we are seeing more and more players continue their careers in the professional ranks,” said Meyer. “I thing what stands out most is that the league and its teams are providing a great environment for players to be see, whether it be home games or events, and there is a concerted effort to accommodate the scouts.”
Meyer said that the foundation of the NAHL is strong thanks to a variety of reasons. “I think it starts with 24 committed owners, who have made an investment in the players and coaches. I also think being the only true USA Hockey Tier II league has a lot of advantages. Finally, I think we have a lot of talented coaches and players, who are all striving to develop in the NAHL and then advance to the higher levels of hockey.
The Magicians will face some new opponents in 2016-17, as they have moved to the Midwest Division after playing in the Central Division last year. “The NAHL is a very competitive league across the board and all the divisions are very tough, but the Midwest presents a new set of challenges with some teams that are perennial powerhouses, including the Robertson Cup Champions in Fairbanks, so it will be a new challenge,” said Meyer. “I want us to play with passion. We are looking for some more skill and I think we had to totally redo our philosophy from last year to this year. Hopefully that is going to spell more success and more wins.”
The Magicians will open the 2016-17 season with a home series the weekend before the Showcase against Springfield. Following that, they will make the 20-minute trip North to the Showcase for games against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Corpus Christi, Aston and Bismarck. “Obviously, there is a lot of hockey going on. It is nice for us because our fans and families can attend and I have felt we always get great support at the games. It is truly one of the greatest and most unique events in hockey and a great opportunity for our players,” said Meyer.
Meyer continued… “I think we feel blessed of being the only NAHL team in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Region. With so many hockey players in the area, we need to make sure we are doing everything we can do reach out to them and growing the brand. We are also close to a lot of NHL and NCAA scouts, so we see a lot of them at home games, which is a benefit. I think playing for the Robertson Cup Championship right in our backyard in Edina is something we strive for and is a goal of ours. We know it is a long road to get there, but it started this summer and will continue all season.”
Up next in the 24 in 24 series: Minnesota Wilderness