24 in 24: Minnesota Magicians
August 31, 2018
The 24 in 24 series features a look at all 24 teams in the NAHL for the 2018-19 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 24 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: A.J. Bucchino (1st Year)
2017-18 record: 28-24-8, 64 pts. (4th in the Midwest Division)
2017-18 leading scorer: Jarrett Lee (41 pts.)
2018 Playoffs: Lost to the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in the Midwest Division Semi-Finals, 3 games to 0
2018-19 Division: Midwest
First regular season game: Wednesday, September 19th vs. Aberdeen Wings
Home opener: Friday, September 28th vs. Fairbanks Ice Dogs
The Minnesota Magicians were in the thick of the NAHL Robertson Cup Playoff race in 2017-18. It was a season that saw the team once again have a great number of NCAA commitments, with 14 players committing to NCAA schools, with nine of those being NCAA Division I commitments.
As they did from the season before, the Magicians would run into a familiar foe in the playoffs, as the top-ranked Fairbanks Ice Dogs came calling. Despite giving the Ice Dogs all they could handle, the Magicians fell in three close games to see their season come to an end. Besides making the playoffs for a second straight season and having an large number of NCAA commitments, the Magicians also saw goaltender Isaiah Saville earn some league honors as he was named to the All-NAHL 2nd Team, as well as, being named the Midwest Division Goaltender of the Year.
Plans for the 2018-19 season would also bring some change to the organization as the Magicians made changes to their ownership group in addition to bringing in a new head coach and general manager. The new-look ownership group consists of Ron Beran, Scott Krueger, Joe Pankratz, and A.J. Bucchino, with Bucchino being named the new Head Coach and General Manager. “We wanted to create an overall better experience for our players, fans, and staff for the 2018-19 season. We are dedicated to creating ladder of development within our programming. All four owners are now involved in the business and are dedicated to transparent in all aspects of the business,” said Beran.
Bucchino, a former NCAA and professional goaltender, was most recently the Head Coach at Lakeville South High School in Lakeville, Minnesota for the past three seasons. At Lakeville South, he had a record of 48-34-4 and lead the team to the Minnesota State High School Tournament in 2017. As a player, Bucchino played in the NCAA for the University of New Hampshire. He later transferred to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where he was a two-time NCAA All-American helping his team win two WIAC Championships (2006 and 2007) and one NCHA Championship (2007).
“I’m really excited to work with the players at the NAHL level and help them reach their goals. Our organization is in a good place and I am looking forward to helping us achieve a new level of success. Our first goal is to move players onto the NCAA and our second goal is to win a Robertson Cup,” said Bucchino. “One of my other goals is to surround my staff with players who love the game and want to be here. I am excited to help guide them to grow as hockey players and more importantly, young men.”
The Magicians will return a significant number of players and veterans from last year’s team and while the majority of the high-end scoring is off to the NCAA, the group coming back brings valuable experience. “We are pretty lucky to have a large group of returning players born in 1998 and 1999 that will bring some much needed experience of playing in the NAHL. I have seen a lot of leadership from all of them since training camp started and that gives us some optimism for the start of the season,” said Bucchino.
Some of those veterans include forwards Matt Stanton (18 pts.), Jackson Nauss (10 pts.), Carter Wagner (6 pts. In 8 games), Chris Konin (3 pts. In 8 games), and defenseman Andrew Kruse (11 pts.). In goal, the Magicians will have some new faces between the pipes. Rookie and Clarkson commit Ethan Haider as one of four netminders at training camp competing for two spots. Haider, who is still just 16-years-old, played for Maple Grove High School this past season. The other goalies include Jack Robbel, who played in the NAHL for Minot last season, along with Conan Hayton (Holy Family HS), and Tom Barendregt from the Netherlands.
“I am looking to surround the team with players that play with a passion for the game and sacrifice for their teammates. We want guys who want to be here. I want the guy who comes into the rink on Monday morning after a three-game weekend ready to work and have a passion for playing the game,” said Bucchino.
Next up in the 24 in 24 series: Minnesota Wilderness