Tuesday was already going to be a special day for St. Cloud Norsemen defenseman Chase Cheslock as it is his 18th birthday. But his special day came with a special gift; he was one of five current NAHL players to be named to the NHL Central Scouting’s released list of “Players to Watch” for the 2023 Draft.
Well… perhaps “gift” is the wrong word to use, as he certainly has earned that accolade. St. Cloud Norsemen Assistant Coach Brock Kautz sings Cheslock’s praise. “Being a senior in high school he’s stepped up, kinda played a lot of minutes for us. He’s played hard, he’s been a leader on our penalty kill,” compliments Kautz. “He’s done a great job and it was great to see him get rewarded with a goal in North Iowa the other day.”
Cheslock has been bringing that workman’s attitude to the ice each and every Norsemen game this season, (he’s played in all 12) and the news today was a pleasant surprise for the birthday boy. “(Teammate Ryan) Cutler was the first person I heard it from,” Cheslock answers when asked how he learned of the acknowledgement. “I couldn’t believe it, I was shocked.”
What’s not shocking is Cheslock’s play. Two seasons ago as a sophomore for Rogers High School he scored 8 goals and 23 points in 20 games and last year, as a captain for the Royals, he nearly doubled his points finishing third in scoring (behind fellow Norsemen teammate Hogan Sinjem) with 10 goals and 39 points in 28 games, easily tops on the team amongst defensemen. While in St. Cloud the numbers have not flown off the scoresheet just yet for Cheslock, but keep in mind he is going up against some players that are two, close to three years older than him.
Kautz thinks that handling older opposition so well may be part of the reason he’s being recognized. “I think that has a little bit to do with it,” answers Kautz. “When you move up a level the game gets a lot harder for everybody and he understands that. He knows he has to play harder and stronger in all situations and he’s been doing that.”
The old adage in hockey is you can’t teach size, and that’s something else that Cheslock has in spade as he’s listed as 6’3” and 205 pounds. “It makes it easier to get into guys in the D zone,” admits Kautz. “He’s got good size, he’s strong, he skates well, so all those make the job a little easier. Plus with the size comes the long stick and he’s able to activate that in the neutral zone and D zone and shut plays down before they get started.”
While Cheslock can be an intimidating opponent when squaring up for a faceoff he’s a humble young man, but when pressed he is able to objectively understand why pro teams may be looking at him already in his young career. “My size and ability to move and make plays with my stature definitely stands out” Cheslock reasons are attributes why he likely made a lasting impression on those with NHL Central Scouting.
Cheslock, who committed to St. Thomas last month, may not enjoy talking about himself and his game but he certainly didn’t hesitate to express what it was like to receive this recognition on his birthday. “Couldn’t really ask for a better present,” Chase admits.
The other four NAHL players recognized on the list were forwards Cayden Casey of North Iowa and Chris Pelosi of Janesville as well as Chippewa goalie Adam Gajan and Corpus Christi netminder Thomas Kiesewetter. Three other NAHL alumni now in the USHL made the list as well in Kaden Shahan, formerly of Chippewa now in Sioux City, and Aaron Pionk and Gavyn Thoreson who were teammates last season for the Minnesota Wilderness and are now together in Waterloo.
You can find the complete NHL Central Scouting list here.
Cheslock as the Norsemen have a big home-and-home weekend with the Minnesota Wilderness as they are on the road in Cloquet Friday night (you can watch the game online at hockeytv.com) and back in St. Cloud Saturday night (tickets still available at tickets.stcloudnorsemen.com ).