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Former Blake captain Will Svenddal commits to play for Augustana, will not play this season, help coaches

Because he is out of junior hockey eligibility, he will spend the season working out and helping with preparations for the fledgling Division I program. Defenseman played the last two seasons as a defenseman for the Minnesota Magicians in the NAHL. He is the second player to commit to the Vikings

Will Svenddal hockey day.jpg
Will Svenddal (19) defends in front of Blake goalie Aksel Reid during a Hockey Day Minnesota game on Jan. 18, 2020, at Parade Stadium in Minneapolis.
Submitted photo by Will Svenddal

Making a commitment to an NCAA Division I men's hockey program that has never played a game is a unique experience. For Will Svenddal, there will be an added challenge for the 2022-23 season.

Svenddal will not play in a competitive hockey game during the coming season.

Svenddal is a 20-year-old defenseman who has used up his junior hockey eligibility. On June 16, he announced his commitment to play for Augustana University, which begins play in the fall of 2023.

So he will spend the coming season attending school, working out and helping head coach Garrett Raboin and assistant coach Andy Boschetto with, well, whatever he can.

"I'll be taking classes, training and I can skate with the coaching staff and I'll be out there a couple times a week with them and I'll be working with the strength and conditioning coach as well," Svenddal said. "Other than that, I'll just be helping the coaches with bouncing ideas, helping them with (recruiting) visits and apparel. Whatever they have questions about or want a player's opinion about, I'll be helping them.

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The 19-year-old from Cohasset, Minn., helped the Anchorage Wolverines reach the NAHL Robertson Cup championship game in the franchise's first season.

"I'll be behind the scenes of making the whole program. It will be pretty interesting. Not a lot of opportunities like this come about. I'll definitely have to soak it all in and it's kind of something to help me for when my (hockey) career is over. It's a good stepping stone to where I want to head in the future."

Svenddal is considering either being a coach or working in hockey operations after he graduates from college. He plans to major in either business or sports management.

He is the second player to commit to play for the Vikings. Former Grand Rapids High School forward Hunter Bischoff became the first on June 6.

A hockey family

Svenddal comes from a hockey family. His father, Troy, played defense for Augsburg University in 1986-87. His grandfather, Rick Alm (1960-62), and great uncles — Gary Alm (1956, 58-59), Larry Alm (1957-59) and Mike Alm (1964-65) — all played hockey for the University of Minnesota.

Hockey Day Minnesota key volunteer Troy Svenddal talks to The Rink Live's Mick Hatten and Jess Myers about the planning process for the event and an issue with the outdoor ice sheet at Parade Stadium.

Svenddal's younger brother, Jake, is a recent graduate of Blake, where he played defense for four seasons. Jake was taken in the fourth round of the North American Hockey League draft by the New Mexico Ice Wolves on June 15.

Troy coached Will and Jake in youth hockey through squirts and was also a key volunteer for Blake when it was the host school for Hockey Day Minnesota in 2020.

"(My dad) had us playing hockey early and it's his favority sport by a mile," Will said of his father, who is a firefighter. "We've just been hockey players our whole lives and we (Jake and I) both still love playing. We've pushed each other and played a lot growing up and it definitely helped us competitively. It's been super fun growing up with Jake and watching both of our games develop."

Will said that he enjoyed having his father as a coach.

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"It was awesome and he knows the game a lot," he said. "He taught me a lot growing up. He made me love the game. I learned so much from him and I wouldn't be in the spot I am without him and my mom. They spent countless hours driving us around to tournaments and camps.

"(My dad) has always been there for me and been very supportive. He's been very helpful and I can't thank him enough."

Rob McClanahan, a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team , has coached the Svenddal brothers at Blake.

"He's a quiet guy, but he's very driven," McClanahan said of Will, who was a captain his senior season. "He works at it. He's a coach's dream because you don't have to worry about him. He's not high maintenance. He just goes about his business.

"I'm happy for him. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy. It's very well deserved," McClanahan said of his commitment to Augustana. "It's a different role, a different situation. He's not coming into a group of 20. He's kind of starting the whole process and is a pioneer in that regard. His family is so solid. His parents are fabulous. They're totally stand-up people."

Will Svenddal Magicians.jpg
Will Svenddal
Courtesy of Minnesota Magicians

On the ice

Svenddal played four seasons for Blake and the Bears took third place in the Class AA state tournament in 2020 when he was the captain. His freshman season was the last season that Blake competed in Class A.

His senior season, he had 21 points and was a plus-26 in 25 regular season games. In the postseason, he had 15 points and was a plus-11 in six games.

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"You never noticed him because he was always in the right spot and made the right plays," McClanahan said of Svenddal, who also played baseball for Blake. "He was a very quiet, solid leader. I am shocked it took this long (to receive a Division I offer).

"He just plays a very smart game, very steady. He wasn't a guy who was flashy," McClanahan said. "I would say he has above average skill in every aspect. I don't think any one (skill) stands out ... He has a complete game. He's not going to do anything where you go, 'Holy cow!' He's just a complete player."

Will Svenddal boards.JPEG
Defenseman Will Svenddal had 24 goals, 74 assists, 98 points and 62 penalty minutes in 111 career games for Blake in high school.
Courtesy of Will Svenddal

In his first season with the Magicians, Svenddal had eight points and was a minus-1 in 49 games with the Magicians. Last season, he was an alternate captain and had 30 points, 42 penalty minutes and was a minus-8 in 52 games for the Magicians, who were 25-26-6-3 and missed the NAHL playoffs.

"I personally thought I had a good season, definitely grew and developed a lot more and played a lot more than my first season with the Magicians," said Svenddal, who is listed at 6-foot and 195 pounds. "It was awesome to play in all situations.

"I definitely became more physical defensively. I was chipping in more on offense. I played a lot of power play this year and didn't do that in my first year with the Magicians. I developed my whole game... I definitely got stronger, played stronger defensively and I had a lot more confidence. Playing in all situations gives a player confidence."

And now he has some relief, knowing that he has a Division I team to play for that is about a four-hour drive from home.

"It was a long time coming and, honestly, it was longer than I thought it would take," Svenddal said. "I'm super excited for the opportunity and I can't thank coach Raboin and coach Boschetto enough for giving me a chance. My whole family is looking forward to it."

READ MORE AUGUSTANA VIKINGS COVERAGE:

Mick Hatten is a reporter and editor for Forum News Service and helps manage TheRinkLive.com, a website dedicated to hockey. He began working for Forum Communications in November 2018 and has covered St. Cloud State University hockey since 2010. A graduate of St. Cloud State, he has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist and has been a youth hockey coach since 2014. mhatten@forumcomm.com
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