ROCHESTER — When Joey Malugani looked at his linemates this season, he often found a feisty, skilled goal-scorer on one side of him and a physical do-it-all playmaker on the other.
Malugani has both of those sides to him — he won’t back down from a confrontation and he’s not afraid to play a physical game — but the Rochester Century senior also knew what his team needed from him.
So Malugani found a middle ground, as a calming presence who let his goal-scoring and play-making abilities do most of his talking.
“He’s just very even-keel,” Century head coach Josh Klingfus said. “He has all that stuff in him — the feistiness — but you wouldn’t know it most of the time. … He doesn’t show too much emotion, even if it’s talking to the officials or his coaches. He’s always very level-headed.
“That’s how he is off the ice, too. A very bright young man.”
He’s also a record-setter, and the 2019-20 Post Bulletin All-Area Boys Hockey Player of the Year.
“He’s a very serious kid,” Klingfus said. “He takes a lot of things seriously and he took it upon himself to play his best every night. He saw his job, his role on the team, and he would always do what’s best for the team.”
Malugani will graduate from Century this spring with a couple options in hand.
The standout student-athlete has signed a letter of intent to play for the Bismarck (N.D.) Bobcats of the North American Hockey League. He’s also been accepted into the prestigious Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
“He wants to chase his hockey dreams,” Klingfus said, “but it’ll be fun to watch him continue, no matter what he decides to do.”
Malugani certainly made higher-level coaches notice him throughout his senior season.
He recorded at least one point in all 27 of Century’s games. He led all Class AA players in the state with 37 goals, which stands as a single-season program record at Century. He also set program records for points in a season (73) and career (144).
“Looking back at it, it sure went fast, really fast,” Malugani said last week from Bismarck, where he was practicing with the Bobcats before the NAHL suspended its regular season. “It was a lot of fun. It flew by (thanks to) so many great teammates and coaches.”
Malugani was an integral part — the epitome of a lead-by-example player — of Century teams that won 41 games over the past two seasons and back-to-back Big Nine Conference championships.
He was part of a line that wasn’t shut out once this season, with talented scorer Gavin Gunderson and powerful junior forward Lyncoln Bielenberg-Howarth. That trio combined to record an eye-popping 201 points this season, including 92 goals. Malugani also credited Century’s coaching staff for helping him develop over the past three years into the player he is today.
“Playing with those guys was awesome,” said Malugani, who had 20 multi-point games as a senior. “I was always excited to play with them.
“And the coaches always focused a lot on Hockey IQ, learning how to play at a fast pace. … Klinger brought out the best in all of us.”
Now Malugani is excited to make the transition to junior hockey, much like his linemates at Century. Gunderson finished the season with the Rochester Grizzlies, and Bielenberg-Howarth practiced and played with the Austin Bruins after Century’s season finished.
“It’s a lot faster,” Malugani said of the NAHL. “The guys are obviously bigger and stronger, especially when it comes to puck battles. I know what I have to work on and train for.”
Klingfus agreed that added strength will help the 17-year-old Malugani battle against 20- and 21-year-olds in the NAHL. But Klingfus added that Malugani has plenty of skills that will make him successful at the next level.
“You don’t see stats on the defensive side of the puck,” Klingfus said, “but defensively he was so sound for us every single game. It’s hard to find players today who play a 200-foot game, but Joey is probably the best 200-foot player I’ve ever had at Century.”
Post Bulletin All-Area Boys Hockey Team
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Senior • Forward
2019-20 stats: 37-36—73
Why he made the team: Led all Class AA players in the state this season in goals scored (37). … Set Century program records for points in a season (73) and career (144). … Also set a program record for goals in a season, with 37. … Had at least one point in all 27 Century games. … All-Big Nine Conference. … Signed to play with the Bismarck Bobcats of the NAHL next season. … Had 20 multi-point games and 13 multi-goal games this season, including two hat tricks. … A two-time PB All-Area player.
Junior • Forward
2019-20 stats: 30-42—72
Why he made the team: Had at least one point in 25 of Century’s 27 games. … Led the team and was sixth in the entire state in assists (42). … Played with the Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League after the high school season finished. … All-Big Nine Conference. … Scored four short-handed goals and had 15 points on special teams. … Had six games of five or more points, including a season-best seven-point game against Albert Lea on Dec. 20. … A repeat selection on the PB All-Area Team.
Soph. • Forward
2019-20 stats: 49-23—72
Why he made the team: Led the entire state in goals scored this season. … Led Section 1A in goals (49) and points (72). … Selected by the Green Bay Gamblers in the fourth round of last May’s USHL Futures Draft. … Scored five short-handed goals this season and 26 special-teams points. … Recorded 10 hat tricks this season, including a season-best six-goal game in a win against Minnesota River on Nov. 30. … Had six points in two Section 1A playoff games.
Junior • Defense
2019-20 stats: 8-25—33
Why he made the team: A team captain for the Wildcats. … Helped run the Wildcats’ strong power play, recording two goals and 10 points on the power play this season. … Matched his goal total of a year ago, while nearly doubling his points total. … Was at his best down the stretch, recording 16 points in the final eight games of the season. … A repeat selection on the PB All-Area Team, was a Second Team selection last season.
Senior • Defense
2019-20 stats: 4-23—27
Why he made the team: All-Big Nine Conference. … Led all Century defensemen in scoring (27 points) and was fourth on the team in assists (23). … A key player on Century’s power play, where he recorded 11 of his 27 points this season. … Averaged a point per game this season. … Had a goal and an assist in Century’s 4-2 win against Bemidji in the championship game of the Kiwanis Festival on Dec. 28.
Senior • Goalie
2019-20 stats: 20-5-2, 2.28 GAA, .915 save pct., 2 shutouts
Why he made the team: Finished his high school career with 41 victories and backstopped the Panthers to back-to-back Big Nine Conference championships. … All-Big Nine Conference. … Came up big in big games. Stopped 42 of 43 shots in 2-1 win against Owatonna on Feb. 6, to help Century close in on the Big Nine title. Stopped 52 of 53 shots against Owatonna on Feb. 20 in a Section 1AA playoff game. … A two-time PB All-Area Team selection.
Senior • Forward
2019-20 stats: 25-31—56
Why he made the team: Excelled on special teams, recording 20 of his 56 points on the power play or penalty kill. … Had eight multi-goal games, including a hat trick against Owatonna in the Section 1AA playoffs. … All-Big Nine Conference. … Signed to play with the Rochester Grizzlies of the NA3HL next season.
Senior • Forward
2019-20 stats: 31-16—47
Why he made the team: All-Big Nine Conference. … Set Winona’s career goal-scoring record this season. … Scored eight power-play goals and four short-handed goals. … Scored four goals in two Section 1A playoff games. … Had five hat tricks this season.
Senior • Forward
2019-20 stats: 21-20—41
Why he made the team: All-Big Nine Conference. … Led the Spartans in goals, assists and points. … Recorded nearly half of his points (19) on the power play. … Had at least one point in 22 of Mayo’s 27 games. … Had five multi-goal games and two hat tricks.
Junior • Defense
2019-20 stats: 10-19—29
Why he made the team: The junior was fourth on the 20-win Wildcats in goals (10), assists (19) and total points (29). … Had three games of four or more points this season, including a season-best six points against Moose Lake on Jan. 25.
Soph. • Defense
2019-20 stats: 11-18—29
Why he made the team: All-Big Nine Conference. … Just a sophomore, Hodge was second on the Spartans in goals (11), assists (18) and points. … Was a big part of Mayo’s power play, recording four power-play goals and 12 power-play points.
Senior • Goalie
2019-20 stats: 8-10-0, 3.56 GAA, .890 save pct., 1 shutout
Why he made the team: Seized the starting job down the stretch for the Spartans. … Won five of seven starts at the end of the season, including a 31-save win at Albert Lea (Feb. 13) and a 32-save win against John Marshall (Feb. 18).
Kaleb Ree (senior, forward): 11-11—22; Nick Dunlap (senior, defense): 5-9—14; Bubba Grunewald (senior, defense): 8-4—12
Aidan Swee (soph., forward): 14-9—23; Connor Olson (senior, forward): 10-11—21; Isaiah Huber (junior, defense): 6-4—10; Matt Haun (soph., defense): 1-9—10
DODGE COUNTY WILDCATS
Brendon Wolesky (soph., forward): 13-26—39; Gavin Giesler (soph., forward): 17-7—24; Cade Spreiter (senior, forward): 8-15—23; Jake Isaak (soph., forward): 9-14—23; Isaac Dale (soph., goalie): 19-6-0, 2.93 GAA, .880 save pct.
JOHN MARSHALL ROCKETS
Teejay Torgrimson (senior, forward): 16-16—32; Sam Eagen (junior, forward): 14-4—18; Sam King (junior, defense): 6-12—18; Shawn Sutton (senior, defense): 6-7—13; Aki Oura (senior, defense): 4-9—13
La CRESCENT LANCERS
Wyatt Farrell (8th, forward): 21-10—31; Owen Davison (junior, defense): 10-15—25; Reid Hafner (junior, forward): 14-10—24
Van Albrecht (senior, defense): 4-15—19; Charlie Kielty (soph., defense): 3-10—13
Noah Grethen (junior, defense): 6-10—16; Ethan Norman (soph., defense): 0-14—14
RED WING WINGERS
Gavin Lampe (senior, forward): 21-6—27; Isaac French (senior, forward): 12-14—26; Taite Luhman (senior, forward): 4-21—25; Aidan Coyle (senior, goalie): 6-15-0, 4.36 GAA, .894 save pct.
Matt Thesing (junior, forward): 15-16—31; Eric Paulson (senior, defense): 7-14—21; Quinn Larsen (soph., defense): 2-11—13; Alex Benson (junior, goalie): 6-7-1, 3.34 GAA, .913 save pct.; Campbell Watkins (senior, goalie): 7-6-1, 3.69 GAA, .886 save pct.