Owen Hendrikson has been on three different teams this season. In fact, he’s been on the Norsemen in two different stints and wore two different numbers. But whether it was # 5 on his back New Year’s Eve and in early January or # 7 since late February, the Rosemount, MN native has come on strong and helped St. Cloud advance to the second round of the 2023 Robertson Cup Playoffs.
Hendrikson talks about how things have changed from his first stay with the Norsemen where he played just four games, and coming back playing ten games in the regular season and all three St. Cloud playoff games. “The first time I came here I was just as an AP (Affiliate Player), so I just tried to come in and take advantage of the opportunity; just do the best that I can,” admits Hendrikson. “Then they wanted me back so now that I’m here, I’m just trying to work on my confidence. And getting closer to the guys has just helped all around. Getting that team mentality. So it’s been fun.”
St. Cloud Norsemen Head Coach Corey Millen acknowledges that Hendrikson’s path to the Norsemen hasn’t been ideal, but he’s made the most of it. “Owen had a couple different opportunities; he’s come and played and practiced but it’s not an easy situation coming here at the end of the year,” Millen concedes. “He’s been a little bit behind in what we do, some details, but he’s had a great attitude. He’s done a good job when we’ve called on him; he’s worked hard, he’s doing everything the right way so we’re really happy to have him. I like the way he’s trending.”
If you haven’t seen Owen play, he describes his game the way most Norsemen blueliners do; defense first. “I take a lot of pride in my D-zone and the defensive side of the game. I think that’s the number one job as a D so I take pride in that,” explains Hendrikson. “But I feel like I have a sneaky offensive side that I can use. I’ve played forward before so I just kinda use that to my advantage. Some players that I like to watch; I’m a (Minnesota) Wild guy so I like Jonas Brodin of the Wild. I think he’s like one of the most underrated players in the league so I like to model after him.”
The Minot Minotauros may have been caught off guard by that sneaky offensive side Hendrikson talks about. He had one goal on one shot on goal in his first four games with the Norsemen, scoring Friday, January 5th, in Minot in his second NAHL game. Hendrikson talks about what he recalls from that moment. “Just getting there, second weekend with the guys, but actually getting more ice time this game. Got a nice little sauce pass over, saw a little lane so just ripped it, had screens up in front so it went it,” Hendrikson recalls. “It was a great feeling to take advantage of an opportunity like that and actually score a goal.”
Millen can find a lot to like about Owen’s game as well. “He’s a kid who has good legs, he can skate well, good first-pass guy. He’s got a good skill set,” compliments Millen. “Some of the things that put him a little bit behind are just understanding exactly what we’re doing as a group, and that’s to be expected because he wasn’t here as much as everybody else. That’s some of the reason that we probably haven’t used him as much in certain spots but he’s learning and he’s embracing it.”
If hearing a defenseman from Rosemount playing for the Norsemen rings any bells it should, as one of the leaders of St. Cloud is Broten Sabo. Sabo’s in his third season with the Norsemen and also is a rearguard who played his high school hockey for the Rosemount Irish. And Hendrikson not only is familiar with Sabo as a teammate but considers him someone he looks up to. “I played with him (Broten) for a year, so I knew him pretty well. Of course he was an older kid on the team, I played with him my sophomore year, my first year on the high school team, so of course he was someone to look up to,” Hendrikson confides. “He’s a great player; our families know each other well so it’s just great that he’s here as well.”
A lot of younger players get called up to the NAHL towards the end of the season, particularly when the team is out of contention. But Hendrikson didn’t get called up to a team thinking about next season, he got thrown in to a lineup for a squad that was scratching and clawing to make the postseason and the last two weekends in the brightest spotlight, in the playoffs. Hendrikson talks about this opportunity coming with what’s been on the line for the Norsemen. “This is a great team to join,” exclaims Hendrikson. “I feel like we can make a run right now and joining this year is a great experience to make a huge run to the Rob Cup so I’m just grateful for this spot.”
Hendrikson and the Norsemen continue their quest to make the Robertson Cup down in Blaine, MN this weekend as they start Round 2 of the playoffs on the road in Austin, MN. Games 1 and 2 will be played at Riverside Arena on Friday and Saturday, May 5th and 6th at 7:05. You can watch those games online at hockeytv.com.
Game 3 will be back in St. Cloud Friday, May 12th, at 7:00. The first 100 fans will receive a set of 2022-23 St. Cloud Norsemen trading cards, courtesy of Rengel Printing. Get your tickets at tickets.stcloudnorsemen.com. Game 4 if needed would also be in St. Cloud on Saturday, May 13th at 7:00. If the series goes the distance, Game 5 would be in Austin on Sunday, May 14th at 5:05.