Junior Gold Keeps Hockey Dream Alive
Steele County Blades goalie Nick Konkel is following a path similar to one blazed by Adam Carlson, who played for the Blades and spent some time in the Washington Capitals organization. Each player did not make their high school roster in their senior season and opted to play Junior Gold hockey.
Carlson played for Edina. Konkel played for White Bear Lake. In an interview with KRFO radio, Konkel said he played on the high school team as a sophomore and junior but got cut as a senior. He jumped at the chance to play Junior Gold.
It's a level of hockey that flies under the radar. Practice times are all across the board. Teams sometimes travel long distances for tournament. But for players that want to continue their career, the league offers the chance to play 50 or more games in a season, roughly twice the number that their high school counterparts play.
Konkel was in goal Saturday, December 15 when the Blades won 5-2 at Wisconsin Rapids to split the weekend series. He had 50 saves on 52 shots. Joona Kokko had a goal and two assists. Tony Najera and Altair Amanzhol each had a goal and a helper. Adam Ostapiak had three assists.
The Blades play at a showcase in Chicago December 20-22. On Monday, December 31 they play at the Kasson Vipers. The next home game for Steele County if Friday, January 11, 2019 against the Minnesota Blue Ox.