23 in 23 Series: Minnesota Magicians
August 30, 2017
The 23 in 23 series features a look at all 23 teams in the NAHL for the 2017-18 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 23 in 23 looks into each NAHL team and will include video interviews with 23 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 (4th year)
2016-17 record: 31-22-7, 69 pts. (3rd in the Midwest Division)
2016-17 leading scorer: Mitchel Slattery (59 points)
2017 Playoffs: Lost in the Midwest Division Semi-Finals to the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, 3 games to 0
2017-18 Division: Midwest
First regular season game: Wednesday, September 20th vs. Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Home opener: Friday, October 6th vs. Coulee Region Chill
Despite the fact that the playoffs did not end the way the Minnesota Magicians wanted in 2017, it didn’t hide the fact that they had the best season on the ice in their four-year history in the league. The Magicians 31 wins were a franchise best since their entry to league back during the 2013-14 season.
At the end of the regular season, both the Magicians and the Fairbanks Ice Dogs were tied in the standings with 69 points, but two more wins netted the Ice Dogs the tie-breaker over the Magicians for the #2 seed heading into the playoffs. The Magicians had Games 1 and 2 on home ice, but only managed to score a goal in each game and then fell in Game 3 in Fairbanks, thus ending the series and the season for Minnesota.
“We were happy to be back in the playoffs last season and there were a lot of positives. We would have liked to have gone further, but we ran into a hot Fairbanks team that was playing very well. We were encouraged by making the dance and getting our guys some valuable experience,” said Magicians head coach Scott Meyer.
The lack of offense was something that plagued the Magicians all season long, as the team finished 19th out of 24 in goals for per game and power play percentage. However, there were some major bright spots including the Magicians penalty kill, which finished second overall in the NAHL, as well as, their seven NCAA commitments. One other bright spot for the Magicians is that they were able to utilize homegrown talent last year as 22 players from the state of Minnesota appeared on the roster at some point during the season.
“I think we were really happy to be able to contribute to the league’s total of over 300 NCAA commitments,” said Meyer. “It is what we as coaches strive for is to advance our players. Our goal this season is to have more than we did last year. There are so many skilled players in the league and not only are they now attracting NCAA interest, but NHL interest as well. We are in a very good place right now as a league and have grown exponentially over the last 10-20 years. The exposure and opportunities for them have never been greater.”
Entering the 2017-18 season, the Magicians will have some rebuilding to do and key voids to fill. The top four scorers from last year’s team all age out and all are headed to the NCAA, including: Mitchel Slattery (Northern Michigan), Parker Mismash (St. Scholastica), Will Hammer (St. Cloud State) and Travis Brown (Michigan Tech). “We lost quite a bit of points, so we will be a little bit younger this year up front, but I like who we have coming back and there are still some pieces of the puzzle we have to figure out,” said Meyer.
Some of those key returning players that Meyer identified were forward Brendan Skarda, who had 34 points in 58 games played as a rookie last year. Other players who will be looked upon to contribute is defensemen Matt Denman (20 points) and Dmytro Kobylyanskyi (7 points). “We are looking for a good start and we are really excited about the group. We will be one of the youngest team’s in the league this season and that is fine. I think it lends itself well to some high-end talent,” said Meyer.
Meyer said that being right in the heart of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area at the Richfield Ice Arena has been very beneficial for the organization. “There are so many scouts in the area and that has really benefitted us from an exposure standpoint. We have a very knowledgeable fan base who enjoy good and skilled hockey, so that’s who we are catering to,” said Meyer.
Meyer also mentioned that the team will potentially have some new blood on the roster that he is excited about. Inclusive of that group included forwards Kyler Grundy (Milwaukee Jr. Admirals 16U) and Blais Richartz, who played in a few games last season for the Magicians and Tri-City in the USHL. Also included is goaltender Isaiah Saville, who played for the Colorado Thunderbirds 16U team last season and who is committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha and who played for the United States in the recent Ivan Hlinka Tournament.
Next up in the 23 in 23 series: Minnesota Wilderness