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Broten Sabo has played in Minnesota his entire life, now he's committed to play 3,000 miles away

The Rosemount, Minn., native has played three seasons with the St. Cloud Norsemen of the NAHL and just recently committed to play Division I at Alaska-Fairbanks.

Broten Sabo
Broten Sabo of the St. Cloud Norsemen.
Sydney Wolf / The Rink Live

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Broten Sabo has played hockey in the state of Minnesota for his entire life. Well, except for suiting up for a single game for a team based out of Wisconsin — but he's always been close to home.

The Rosemount native grew up playing for the Irish youth association and then competed in two seasons for the high school program. He even got to stay close to home to play junior hockey as he has now appeared in three seasons for the St. Cloud Norsemen of the North American Hockey League.

Things are going to change completely for Sabo in the next six months.

The 20-year-old skater recently announced his commitment to play Division I hockey at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, which is about 3,000 miles from home.

Living in the State of Hockey, Broten and his two brothers, Jackson and Ryker, all grew up playing the sport. His dad didn't play hockey but he was a big fan of the North Stars, hence the name "Broten."

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"It was always competitive. Me and my older brother are two years apart so we grew up playing with each other like every other year," said Broten.

The oldest Sabo, Jackson, is part of the reason why Broten went into the NAHL the year that he did. He was originally planning on playing his senior season with Rosemount and just competing in a couple NAHL games before and after the high school schedule.

Defenseman has two game-winning goals in the playoffs, including in Game 3 of the Central Division championship series in triple overtime. Sabo was second in the NAHL in plus/minus (plus-38) and had 27 points in 59 regular season games. St. Cloud is the top seed in the four-team Robertson Cup Championship tournament this weekend in Blaine.

Broten went to the Janesville Jets to start that season, where Jackson was playing at the time, and the two both competed in a single game for the Wisconsin-based squad before getting traded to St. Cloud. Broten then made the decision to stay with the Norsemen and play with Jackson instead of compete in his senior season with the Irish.

Jackson is still close to home as he skates for St. John's University at the Division III level. The youngest Sabo, Ryker, is a senior defenseman for Rosemount High School.

Deciding to play in the NAHL is something that has paid off for Broten. The 20-year-old originally took some time to adjust to the junior hockey level of play but now leads all defensemen on the team in his third and final season with the Norsemen.

Sabo posted only six assists in his first full season in the NAHL, but then increased his point-produced almost five-fold the next year by putting up three goals and 24 assists in 59 games. The defender now has 19 points mid-season for St. Cloud, the third most on the squad and the most for a blueliner.

Sabo helped the Norsemen become a top team in the league in 2021-22. St. Cloud made it all the way to the Robertson Cup semifinal before losing to the Anchorage Wolverines in a best-of-three series.

The steady improvement of the 6-foot-2 defender caught the eyes of Alaska-Fairbanks this past summer. Sabo then committed to the program in mid-December.

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"They're such great guys, they made it a pretty easy choice when it came down to the final decision," said the skater.

Sabo recognizes that it might be a bit odd at first to play over 3,000 miles from home, but he's excited to see where this path will lead him.

UAF recruits many players from the NAHL and currently has four Minnesotans on their roster. Sabo is familiar with a couple of his future teammates already since he skates with some of them at home in the offseason.

The Nanooks will get a 6-foot-2, 194-pound defender in Sabo, who has lots of junior hockey experience.

"I see the ice pretty well, I have a good first pass. I'm good defensively and I can provide a little up front in the offensive zone," said the 20-year-old on his strengths.

Broten Sabo practice close.JPG
St. Cloud Norsemen defenseman Broten Sabo waits in line in practice on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at the Municipal Athletic Complex in St. Cloud, Minn. The Norsemen open play in the NAHL's Robertson Cup playoffs on Friday at Fogerty Arena in Blaine, Minn.
Courtesy of Ashley Chase / St. Cloud Norsemen

The St. Cloud Norsemen are towards the bottom of the standings currently in the NAHL Central Division, but Sabo thinks that the second half of the season will shape up to be much better for the squad.

The Rosemount native missed a handful of games this year due to an injury and is hoping to finish out the 2022-23 season strong.

Sabo will continue to compete with the Norsemen for the rest of the NAHL season before heading out to Fairbanks this upcoming fall.

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Sydney Wolf is a reporter for The Rink Live, primarily covering youth hockey. She joined the team in November of 2021 and graduated from St. Cloud State University with a B.S. in Mass Communications and a minor in Writing and Rhetoric Studies and was a part of the University Honors Program.
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