By Joel Badzinski | LaCrosse Tribune| Thursday, July 21, 2011
ONALASKA — Mac Jansen knows all about starting over.
Jansen is doing just that as one of 100 players trying out for 25 spots on the Coulee Region Chill’s final roster this week at the OmniCenter.
His status as a former Minnesota high school star and the Chill’s first-round draft pick only got him as far as the door to the arena. The rest is up to him.
That’s OK with Jansen, who a year ago was nowhere near being ready to play hockey at a high level.
The White Bear Lake, Minn., native spent nearly five months of the summer and early fall of 2010 fighting mononucleosis.
“I didn’t touch the ice or a weight room for all that time,” Jansen said Thursday before the Chill’s first full practice session of the tryouts.
Jansen lost 50 pounds during his bout with mono, dropping from 180 to 130.
Not good for any athlete, much less a hockey player who was known for using his size and physicality.
“It did scare me, because I lost a lot of weight, a lot of my hard work; I lost it all,” Jansen said. “But then I started talking to my high school coaches and they said just get at it again, get in the weight room and get back to doing what you were doing before.
“At first I almost felt uncomfortable and out of place. It took a week or two and then it just came back.”
In a big way. Jansen, who got the nickname “Quadzilla” for his leg workouts after returning from mono, led the Bears with 38 goals, plus 17 assists (55 points) in 32 games.
He turned in one of the most memorable goals of the MSHSL playoffs, scoring in double-overtime of the Section 4AA championship game to upset No. 1 Hill-Murray.
In the state quarterfinals against Duluth East, Jansen had a goal with 10.2 seconds left in overtime waved off because a teammate had played the puck with a high stick. Duluth East won in double overtime.
Chill coach Garrett Strot has known about Jansen for several years thanks to White Bear Lake assistant Nick Nitti, who used to work with Strot in the Osseo, Minn., program.
“I think he’s a player that can contribute,” Strot said. “He’s the type of guy who’s always scored and I don’t think that’ll change; sometimes it takes a year. The advantage he has over other first-year guys is that he’s got pretty good size plus good speed.”
Strot likened Jansen to second-year forward David Ripple, who started last season on the Chill’s fourth line and elevated himself to a top-six forward.
For now, Jansen is focused on making the team. Tryout sessions continue through Sunday afternoon, with the final roster to be announced following player meetings.
“If I’m fortunate enough to make the team I just have to play my game and try to help my teammates,” Jansen said. “(Strot) said he was looking for me to come in and help score goals and put up numbers. I’m also going to try to get assists, throw my body around, go into the corners, kill penalties, do what I’ve got to do to help the team.”
LOCAL FLAVOR:Six local skaters are on the final tryout roster, including Brandon Unser (Sparta/West Salem/Bangor), Jack Anderholm (Aquinas co-op), Jordan Schreiner (Aquinas co-op), Peter Coppola (Aquinas co-op) and Keaton Bronston (Onalaska).
GET TO KNOW MAC JANSEN
Hometown:White Bear Lake, Minn.
Draft:Selected in the first round (18th overall) of the 2011 NAHL Entry Draft by Coulee Region.
Stats:Scored 38 goals, 18 assists (56 points) in 32 high school games this past season. Produced nine game-winning goals, including 2OT clincher in MSHSL Class AA sectional title game vs. No. 1-ranked Hill-Murray.