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Peterson learning what junior hockey is all about

A column by Jim Bastian

January 20, 2013
Jim Bastian - Journal Sports Writer , The Journal

NEW ULM - In his last two years of high school hockey at New Ulm High School, Brody Peterson led the Eagles with 114 points.

Now, Peterson has taken his hockey skills to junior hockey and the NA3HL with the Twin City Steel.

So far in 20 games, Peterson has scored nine goals and added seven assists for 16 points.

Peterson had originally signed with the North Iowa Bulls based in Mason City, Iowa, but was traded to the Steel.

"That is not uncommon in junior hockey," Peterson said. "It happens quite frequently."

Peterson said that the biggest adjustment that he has had to make is the increased level of play from high school hockey to the juniors.

"All of your decisions have to be quicker and you have to be a smarter hockey player," he said. "Doing the little things right are the biggest things that a player needs to do."

Peterson said that he was prepared for the jump to the junior level of play by playing some higher level hockey.

Peterson played in tryouts for the NAHL's Coulee Region team. He also played in the Great Eight along with an Elite II league.

Another adjustment Peterson has had to make is the number of games during the season.

In high school, it was around 25 per year. The number jumps to 47 games in the juniors.

"It is different," he said. "I really love playing junior hockey. It is a great thing to do. Hopefully it gets me to where I want to go and that is to play college hockey somewhere. I love the game."

Peterson said that one thing that he would tell high school hockey players who want to try to make the jump to the junior level is simple.

"Work hard," he said. "When you watch hockey on TV like the Gophers or the Wild, it is the little things that they do that make the difference. You have to be mentally ready and prepared."

He also said that the speed of the game - on the ice and decision-making - has got to be quicker.

"You can hold the puck for a long time in high school hockey," Peterson said. "You don't have that time now. It is all fast."

He said that a player needs to have the drive to get bigger and stronger.

"You may be a very good player in high school, but there are better players than you who are also working harder than you," Peterson saud. "Your mindset has got to be different."

Junior Hockey a stepping stone for college

Peterson said that it is the norm rather than the exception for high school hockey players to hone their skills at the junior level before college hockey.

"It is what most people do," he said. "It gets you ready fot the next level. There is no D-II hockey - it is D-I or D-III."

While no college has of yet contacted Peterson, he said that "hopefully if I play juniors again next year and get talked to by a D-III school."

Kohn at University of Wisconsin-River Falls

One former New Ulm High School hockey player who made the jump from high school hockey to juniors to college is Cody Kohn.

Kohn played the last two seasons with the Springfield (Ill.) Junior Blues and is now playing D-III hockey at UW-River Falls.

Like Peterson, Kohn said that the game from high school to juniors, "Was completely different. The speed was a lot faster, it was a more physical game."

"There was also more system play than high school," Kohn added. "But the speed and the talent of the players was also a big change. Every player on the ice is a good player."

Kohn, who is majoring in Agricultural Studies, agreed with Peterson that playing juniors before college is what is done for the majority of players.

"Maybe if you are the top player in high school you can go straight to college, but even decent kids play some junior hockey either before or after their senior year in high school," added Kohn.

Kohn said that the junior schedule can be a grind compared to high school.

"We would play a total of 70 games a year, which included playoffs," he said. "It is a grind mentally and physically - your concern is to keep yourself healthy and in shape. Your main focus is hockey."

Kohn said that he is a "stay home defensive defenseman. I take care of our defensive end first and then move my way up the ice from there. I have always taken pride in my game for that. That has gotten me to where I am - I am a shutdown defenseman."

Kohn's team is currently riding a six-game winning streak.

"We are 10-5-2 and are starting to do well, I am playing every game so far," Kohn said.

Kohn also mirrored Peterson's assessment of what a player needs to do to make it to juniors and beyond.

"It has to be endless effort," he said. "The work that you put in is ridiculous. When you are in high school, you do some things. But when you get to juniors you find out what kind of a grind it is. You can be the best, but if a team does not have a spot for you, you do not make it. It is endless effort."

 
 

 

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