Newest Tommies commit is a big body who will squeeze through the active Steinbach to St. Thomas pipeline
Long before he headed north for junior hockey in Manitoba, good-sized forward Nick Mikan was on the St. Thomas radar.
ST. PAUL – According to Google Maps, the journey from Centennial Arena in Steinbach, Manitoba, to the campus of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul is more than 400 miles and will take you a little under eight hours in normal driving conditions.
But it’s much quicker if you take what is coming to be known at the “Tommie Pipeline.” The latest hockey player from the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Steinbach Pistons to announce his future in purple is good-sized forward Nick Mikan, who plans to return to his native Twin Cities in the fall of 2024 to play for the Tommies, after another year and a half of learning and growing in junior hockey.
Although one wonders, at least physically, how much more growing he can do. Already pushing 6-foot-5 without skates on, Mikan is quickly developing into an important presence in front of the opponents’ net for the Pistons.
“There’s a lot of upside to his game. He’s a big body that’s still adjusting to junior hockey and learning what he needs to do and how he needs to play to be successful,” said Steinbach coach Paul Dyck. “It’s been fun to watch his progression as he gets more experience at this level and starts to mature as a player.”
Mikan is the third Piston to make his way down that mythical pipeline to St. Paul. Quinton Pepper has played 19 games for the Tommies this season, and forward Ty Paisley, who is one of Steinbach’s top scorers this season, is expected to arrive on the St. Thomas campus next fall.
For Mikan, who made the announcement while back in Minnesota on the holiday break, the Tommies coaches first started talking to him last season when he was a senior at Blaine High School, and the school came to feel like a natural fit for him.
“I really believe that St. Thomas will be a really good team in a few years, and it’s a really good education,” said Mikan, who came up in the Edina youth hockey system and also played prep hockey at Breck and Benilde-St. Margarets before finishing at Blaine. “I had a little bit of a slow start to the season, but I’ve started playing better and putting the puck in the net more.”
Through his first 29 games at the junior level, Mikan has 11 goals and 11 assists. He said using his big body is his strength on ice.
“I like to wrap the puck with my long reach and have gotten a few goals that way this season,” he said. “I try to hit hard and use my body everywhere on the ice.”
🚨COMMIITMENT🚨— Steinbach Pistons (@MJHLPistons) December 21, 2022
Congratulation to Pistons forward Nick Mikan on his NCAA Division 1 commitment to the University of St. Thomas @TommieMHockey !!
Exciting news! Keep up the great play Nick! pic.twitter.com/4ygU364cHz
And for the Pistons, his size is a perfect way to take away the other goalie’s eyes.
“He’s getting a little bit of time on the power play, net-front,” said Dyck, who has used Mikan primarily in a five-on-five role thus far. “Obviously he’s a big body that plays in the hard areas. He’s not shy to get involved physically. When he’s playing big, that’s when he starts to produce.”
Producing, just like that pipeline between Steinbach and St. Thomas.