The Fantastic Four of Gophers Hockey – Captain Ben Meyers

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Sammy Walker is originally from Edina’s hockey household and came to U of M after winning the Mr. Hockey award as a Hornets prep player. Jack LaFontaine hails from the suburbs of Toronto, which may be the hockey capital of the world, and won the Mike Richter Award, given to the best goalie in college hockey last season.

The third man with a “C” sewn onto his brown and gold sweater is Ben Meyers, a junior striker from Delano, who embodies the vow made by coach Bob Motzko during his introductory press conference in spring 2018 that the Gopher would grow old. as a program under his watch.

In a four-part preview of the 2021-22 Minnesota Gophers hockey season, Jess Myers of The Rink Live explores transfer (Grant Cruikshank, bottom right), rookie (Chaz Lucius, top left), captain (Ben Meyers, bottom left) and program legend (Lou Nanne).

But wait … Delano? Where is it?

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“Growing up, the youth teams we played wouldn’t know who we were. I grew up with a lot of guys who are successful at the DI level and we were all very proud to be from an unknown place, ”said Meyers, proudly representing his hometown of 5,500, located 45 minutes away. west of the Gophers Ice Rink. , and technically just outside the seven-count Twin Cities metropolitan area. “Now you see Delano playing in more state tournaments and I like to think that maybe we were a part of hockey growing up there a bit. “

In fact, Meyers will be part of a quartet of the 2017 Delano Tigers Class A State Tournament team playing Division I hockey this season. Forward Brian Halonen will be a senior at Michigan Tech, forward Johnny Keranen will be a junior at Army West Point and defenseman Andrew Kruse will be a junior at the Air Force.

Camping near the fold

When he arrived on campus two years ago, Meyers, who turns 23 on November 15, was already older than some of his junior teammates. This maturity is certainly a factor that earned him enough respect from his teammates that they elected him second-year assistant captain and gave him one of the captain spots for this season.

But beyond the numbers on his birth certificate or the numbers he put on the stats sheet last season – Meyers is tied for second in return for the Gophers, having scored a dozen goals and 16 Assists in 31 games last season – there’s an immeasurable level of intensity that seemingly emerges every time Meyers lace up his skates.

“He’s one of the nicest human beings outside the rink. Then he puts on those skate blades and you get the real Ben Meyers, ”said LaFontaine, who has in the past likened Meyers to a silverback gorilla with the way he attacks the team’s training room. “It’s almost like the Incredible Hulk. Ben’s competitiveness, there are no words for it. And it’s contagious. Boys love it, and it rubs off on everyone. There’s a reason he’s a leader in this team and it’s that intensity, that competitiveness and his unmatched work ethic.


ABOUT THIS SERIES: In a four-part look at the 2021-22 Minnesota Gophers hockey season, Jess Myers of The Rink Live explores the program’s transfer, rookie, captain and legend.


During his run for national championship victory at the University of North Dakota, forward Cary Eades was notorious for invading the personal space of the opposing goalie and joked that he was an excellent player, “from start to finish”. Meyers, who played for Eades with USHL’s Fargo Force, may have taken a few lessons in this regard. Asked about his favorite place on the ice, Meyers didn’t hesitate with an answer.

Ben Meyers (center), with his father Steve (right) and brother Nate skated on a frozen lake near the family cabin in Otter Tail County.  Contribution / Meyers family photo.

Ben Meyers (center), with his father Steve (right) and brother Nate skated on a frozen lake near the family cabin in Otter Tail County. Contribution / Meyers family photo.

“As close to the net as possible,” he said. “Everything that happens in a hockey game, I want to be good at it. So maybe I’ll have to shoot from the top of the hoops, but obviously the best place to score is right in front of the net.

And it’s not just a game-night trait.

“Ask him how many times my blocker hits his back,” LaFontaine joked. “He trains like it’s a game, and when I see something like that my change is going to happen too. Ben is a guy who does it well every day. He doesn’t take any shortcuts and he does what he has to do. It’s huge, and being a leader on top of that, for the younger ones, it’s contagious. “

Ben Meyers of the Fargo Force skates around Cole Weaver of Dubuque to score during their USHL hockey game on Saturday March 17, 2018, at Scheels Arena, Fargo.  Michael Vosburg / The Forum

Ben Meyers of the Fargo Force skates around Cole Weaver of Dubuque to score during their USHL hockey game on Saturday March 17, 2018, at Scheels Arena, Fargo. Michael Vosburg / The Forum

Focused on the present

In high school, Meyers was Delano’s top scorer in sophomore, junior and senior. The Tigers fell to Breck in the sectional finals in 2015 and 2016, but ultimately beat the Mustangs to reach their first state tournament when Ben was a senior. At the Xcel Energy Center, they fell to Monticello 3-2 in their opener, but rebounded to beat Mahtomedi and East Grand Forks to claim the consolation title.

Meyers was not drafted in high school and instead of rushing to college, he went to Fargo for two seasons with the Force. It was a career change experience.

“My game has grown tremendously at Fargo, and I have to thank the coaching staff for that,” said Meyers, who returns to Fargo this summer to work at the Force Prospects Camp. “I’m super grateful and built a great relationship with everyone I was with in Fargo. It was a very good experience. “

The son of a radiologist mother, Traci, and a father, Steve, who teaches industrial arts, Meyers came from a sporting family. Steve skated for UW-River Falls in college, while Ben’s older brother Nate played baseball at Minnesota State Mankato.

  • PART 1 SERIES: Former Colorado College forward Grant Cruikshank (the transfer) chose the team he raised as a child in Wisconsin, growing up with famous parents who instilled in him world-class skating skills.

Never having heard his name mentioned in the NHL Draft, Meyers is a free agent, capable of signing with any of the league’s 32 teams when he chooses to leave college. Professional scouts are high on him for that intensity, strength and knack for going into tough areas to score goals. But as he pursues a degree in entrepreneurial management at the highly regarded Carlson School at the University of Montreal, Meyers is rooted in the here and now.

“I get contacted sometimes and people contact the coaches and so on, but when I’m here at school it’s not something that worries me,” he said. “I tell these people that I’m focused on what’s going on here.”

  • SERIES PART 2: Chaz Lucius (the rookie) didn’t start playing hockey until he was 8 and joined U of M when he was just 14. Now 18 and selected in the first round of the NHL Draft, he appears to be a scoring threat in college.

While coaching in Wisconsin, Mike Eaves once said that you need to recruit the best players to participate in your program, and then you need to recruit them to stay once the NHL opportunities arise. Motzko said that hadn’t been necessary with Meyers or any of the team’s pro prospects, who made an NCAA title their only goal for the next seven months.

“This is what excites us the most now. Guys who come back, there was no sales work, ”Motzko said. “They knew they were coming back for the right reasons, for what we’re building here and what we’re bringing back here. It’s awesome.

Crow River Captain

While they wore the same orange and black as the high school team, youth hockey at Delano was often a regional consolidation that included players from Rockford and Watertown, who combined to form Crow River Youth Hockey. Association. For example, Delano’s youth hockey teams were often listed as “Crow River,” which is not a city on any map of Minnesota, which further confused some opponents as to who they were up against.

Motzko noted that in growing areas like Delano, a western suburb of Twin Cities, success in hockey often follows the influx of young families.

“In the state of Minnesota, you see these programs popping up, and I think Delano has been a pretty good hockey program,” the coach said. “Little Falls ran and Red Wing ran, and that’s what our state is doing. These communities that do such a good job with youth hockey are having great little races. There are a number of Delano children who have proven to be very good hockey players.

And the Gophers are thrilled that the best of these Delano children, after a few years of learning, growing and strengthening in the Red River Valley, have arrived at U of Mr.

“We’re just lucky that Ben found his place here because he’s one of the best players in the country,” Motzko said. “You can draw a line to Delano as much as you want, but there are great players coming out of dark areas, if you want to call Delano that. I’m just going to call him a great player.


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