This is the first season for Jeremiah Konkel with the St. Cloud Norsemen but he’s no stranger to junior hockey or the organization. Konkel played the previous two seasons with the Willmar Warhawks, the NA3HL affiliate of the Norsemen, and his game exploded his second season in Willmar where he scored 25 goals and 52 points with a +23 rating in 43 regular season games played. Konkel attributes a lot of his success in the NAHL to his two seasons in the NA3HL.
“Coming out of high school I didn’t know much about juniors so being able to dip my feet in what junior hockey was was good for two years,” explains Konkel. “Obviously I progressed pretty well in that league and then felt like I could do things at this level. I think it prepared me well and put me in a spot for success here.”
Konkel hails from Bloomington, MN and he played a season of high school hockey with Minnehaha Academy then his sophomore through senior campaigns he played for Southwest Christian Richfield where he had a stat line of 30-62-92 and was +26 in 49 regular season games including going 16-34-50 +18 in 23 games his junior year.
St. Cloud Norsemen Head Coach Corey Millen feels Konkel’s success is built around his overall game and his style which is going to work at a variety of levels. “Obviously he’s put in his time and the work; he’s got some legs, he works hard, he’s got energy so it translates and some of his attributes are really useful at every level,” compliments Millen. “He doesn’t cheat the game, he tries to do things the right way and he gives an honest effort. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, he’s a little undersized. He does a pretty good job and he’s gotta continue to get better at staying on the right side of pucks and the right side of people but he plays an honest game.”
Konkel is one of just four players that has dressed for all 35 Norsemen regular season games this season, and that is something he works hard at to be available . “Definitely a couple times throughout the year injuries, sicknesses and whatnot have taken a toll on our team and it’s ‘next man up.’ I think we’ve done a great job of bearing down with the guys, we’ve got a great group here, anyone can fill in and be a player here,” says Konkel. “I think it’s great that I’ve been able to play every game and be in the lineup. I have done what I can to take care of my body. It’s not the easiest task in the world but it’s definitely something I pride myself in.”
Coach Millen, as much as anyone, appreciates that # 25 has been available for him all season, particularly through some rough stretches. “It’s been a weird year as far as injuries, there’s no doubt. We went through a stretch where that was really tough,” admits Millen. “That early stretch was tough on us and you need people that are available and he certainly proved that.”
Another area Konkel works hard at is his defense. “Keeping pucks out of your own net is the first priority so I definitely pride myself in that, trying to keep as good fo a plus/minus as I can,” addresses Konkel. “Just doing everything on the defensive side and the D-zone to keep pucks out of our net first and then try to generate offense after.”
And a skillset that many may not know Jeremiah possesses is hockey equipment management, particularly sharpening skates. “I’ve worked at a pro shop at Edina General Sports the last five years. It’s been a great opportunity for me to learn about the equipment side and that’s where I’ve developed the skill to do that. Obviously sharpening skates for the boys has been fun,” Konkel chuckles. “After I’m done playing I think it would be for sure be fun to stay involved in the game anyway I can and that’s something that I love to do, I think it would be fun.”
Konkel and the Norsemen will pick up action this weekend with a three game series against the North Iowa Bulls. Friday they’ll host North Iowa with tickets still available at tickets.stcloudnorsemen.com.
Saturday and Sunday’s games will be down in Mason City with the puck dropping at 7:10 Saturday and 3:10 Sunday. Both games can be watched online at hockeytv.com.