The last two seasons the St. Cloud Norsemen have competed against Braden Panzer, but in 2023-24 the Norsemen will team up with the forward as he’s signed a tender with the franchise.
Panzer played the full 2021-22 season with the Minot Minotauros, putting up 5-7-12 in 56 games in his rookie NAHL season. This past year he began the season in Minot and played in 8 of their first 9 games before moving on to the Niverville Nighthawks in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League where he scored 15-26-41 in 47 regular season games and 1-5-6 in 5 playoff contests. Niverville is a town in Manitoba, Canada and there he was third on the team in points this past season.
Panzer talks about the impression he had of the Norsemen team when they were a rival and why he wanted to be a part of the organization. “I remember playing against them during my rookie year,” recalls Panzer. ”And I know how much the organization likes to win and does a great job developing players.”
In that rookie campaign in Minot, Panzer was able to play with a familiar face, his cousin Jaksen Panzer, who played 16 games for the Tauros that season and skated for the Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL this past year. This season he’ll have a few familiar faces in current Norsemen defenseman Owen Hendrikson, who had a brief stint in Niverville this year, and fellow St. Cloud Norsemen tender Gavin Gunderson, who spent the entire season with the Nighthawks.
Panzer is a grinder and is willing to get to the dirty areas of the ice to get on the scoresheet. When asked to compare himself to a professional player, Panzer immediately thinks of one of the hottest players in the world right now. “I would say I play a similar game to Matthew Tkachuk,” Panzer answers. “He plays the game hard and the right way and that is how I try to play.”
A lot of tenders in the NAHL have no experience in the league but that’s not the case with Panzer, and that’s certainly seen as a lot of value to the Norsemen. “The biggest thing about Braden is that he has experience in juniors and our league. He works his butt off, he’s got good feet so he can get up and down the ice,” compliments St. Cloud Norsemen Assistant Coach Brock Kautz. “He seems to be very reliable in all areas; he’s able to play penalty kill, I know he’s able to play power play and play in every situation. He’s just a 200-foot type of player, which is somebody that can always help a team.”
Panzer hails from Grand Forks, ND which is less than four hours from St. Cloud, MN and he admits that being close to home and family certainly was a factor in deciding to sign with St. Cloud. “St. Cloud only being a few hours from home, it is definitely really nice and helped with my decision,” Panzer confides.