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Krueckl finds a new hockey home at Lake Superior State
Nov. 3, 2003
By Linda Bouvet, LSSU Sports Information Director
As much as hockeyˇ¦s popularity has spread over the past two decades, the college hockey community is as close-knit as ever.
When Iona College announced just before the 2002-03 playoffs that it was dropping its hockey program, second-leading scorer Tim Krueckl immediately began looking for a new team. The communication grapevine worked its magic quickly.
How else could a soon-to-be senior wind up in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., after spending three years playing for a team that is a 20-minute train ride from Manhattan?
"I went straight home and started calling coaches," said Krueckl, who is now one of four seniors on Lake Superior State's roster. "It took three to four weeks. I was talking to a few teams and weighing my options."
Hopes of transferring to another Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference school or Boston University fell through. His connection turned out to be his brother, Brad, who had played junior hockey for LSSU assistant coach Jim Roque in Minot, N.D., in the mid 1990s.
"Hockey is such a small world," Krueckl said.
"The day the players found out, his brother called me," Roque said. "Tim called me the next day. It just so happened that I was going to Toronto, and they were in the playoffs at Mercyhurst. So I went to watch him at Mercyhurst."
Roque was also interested in bringing Krueckl to Clarkson in 2000.
"We were looking for a player when Erik Cole signed a pro contract," Roque said. "Tim's name kept popping up, but we had no money to give him. It would have cost him $30,000 to go to Clarkson the first year, so he went to Iona."
Sault Ste. Marie is a world away from New York City, but isn't much different from Krueckl's hometown of Claresholm, Alb. Other than the fact that he feels a bit like a freshman again, he is fitting right in with the Lakers.
"This school is geared more toward hockey," said Krueckl, a finance major with a 4.0 grade point average. "It's refreshing. We didn't get many fans at Iona. This is more like junior hockey in Canada with the support we get."
Iona's rink was limited to 1,000 spectators, so the 4,000-seat Taffy Abel Arena and LSSU's state-of-the-art locker room facilities compare to winning a reward challenge in the game "Survivor." And Krueckl will get a chance to see storied Central Collegiate Hockey Association facilities such as Michigan's Yost Arena, Ohio State's Value City Arena and the brand new Omaha Arena in Nebraska. He is anxious to play in front of big crowds, regardless of whether they are for the Lakers or against them.
"I like that kind of stuff," Krueckl. "Fans booing -- that gets me pumped up almost more than the home fans do."
His experience against big-time programs has included a few games against some Hockey East and Ivy League schools, but it has been limited.
"We played in Maine last year," Krueckl said. "Their fans are crazy."
"He's doing fine, but it will be a really big adjustment for him in our league," Roque said.
Krueckl was shocked when he was told that Iona had dropped its hockey program. Although there is never a good time to get that kind of news, hearing it just prior to the playoffs made the season's stretch run difficult.
"Iˇ¦ve been trying to figure (tie timing) out since they told us," he said. "I couldn't believe it. The school had been pumping in a lot of money during the last three or four years. The team was on the rise, and the league was on the rise. We were well-liked on campus, while other programs had bad reputations."
Now that he's found a new home, Krueckl is only looking ahead. He has three years of college hockey experience, but has only one season to learn LSSU coach Frank Anzalone's systems.
"Some if it is similar, but we work out more here," Krueckl said. "I think the CCHA will be faster. I'll have to think quicker and do things quicker. They are letting me get a feel for things."
At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Krueckl is a left wing who should be a physical presence down low in the offensive zone.
"I should be good on the forecheck and will hopefully score some goals," he said. "Right now, we are working on a little of everything in practice. There is no emphasis on anything, really, except the D zone. We have to take care of our own end first."
As Iona's No. 2 scorer with 11 goals and 16 assists, the Lakers are hoping Krueckl can make an immediate impact on LSSU's offense, which averaged only 1.6 goals per game last season. His career totals are 37 goals and 50 assists in 98 college games.
Anzalone said that his challenge will be to find the right line for Krueckl, who has aspirations of playing professional hockey.
Krueckl is very aware of what is expected of him, and senses that the Lakers will score more goals in 2003-04 than they did last year.
"The guys are feeling good about this season," Krueckl said. "They think we are going to do a lot better this year. They are saying they could finish seventh or eighth in the league, which would be a really big improvement."
Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey