JANESVILLE, WI – The Janesville Jets, proud members of the North American Hockey League, are pleased to announce that forward Brenden Olson has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for the Minnesota State Mavericks of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).
“Growing up this has always been a dream,” said Olson. “Growing up and playing with my buddies, this is always what we looked forward to. Now to have accomplished it feels great, especially having done all this hard work, but it’s not done yet. I still have to keep working hard to get ready for college and play at the highest level I can.”
Olson, a 2000-born forward who has played both center and wing in Janesville, is the first Jets player this year to earn his NCAA commitment in-season. The Eau Claire native arrived in Janesville in December by way of the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede, where he played 11 of 19 games but had to fight for ice time. Olson immediately won over his Jets teammates and fans. He scored goals in each of his first three games, totaling six points in three straight wins over the Ice Dogs and the Magicians. Olson is coming off of a two-point night versus Chippewa on Saturday, and leads the team in scoring rate with 0.87 points-per-game.
“Coach [Mike] Hastings is getting a phenomenal player in Brenden Olson” said head coach Corey Leivermann. “I think they’re getting one of the most talented skaters, north-south, in the WCHA. When you look at Brenden Olson’s strengths, his skating’s the first thing you notice, and obviously he can make plays with the puck, but he’s improved a lot without the puck, too. If Mankato fans are looking for another guy to come get on the scoresheet and change the outcome of games, they’ve got a great one in Brenden Olson.”
Olson signed a tender contract with the Jets last January He is one of nine Wisconsinites on the current roster, and now one of four Wisconsinites with commitments (D John Prokop [Miami], F Justin Engelkes [Miami], F Erik Bargholtz [Michigan State]).
The Mavericks, currently ranked #4 in the country, recently captured their fourth regular season WCHA title in five seasons and are serious contenders for a national championship. At the helm is seventh-year head coach
Mike Hastings, who won a silver medal with Team USA at January’s World Junior Hockey Championship. The Mavericks play at the Verizon Center in Mankato, drawing nearly 5,000 fans a game. The current roster boasts former Jets Alec Vanko (senior), Michael Bigelbach (junior), and Zak Galambos (freshman).
“The coaching staff and the program as a whole are just unbelievable,” Olson said. “They’ve been super successful lately, so that was a big part of my decision. The academics and campus are great, too, and another thing is just being close to home. It’s only two and a half hours from my hometown, so that’s a big thing for my parents who can come watch. My dad tries to get to a lot of my games, and he’s always been a big supporter of mine throughout my hockey career, so he’s excited to be pretty close.”
To help any player attain a Division I commitment is a great feeling for a coach, but this particularly commitment will stand out forever for Leivermann.
“Obviously having your first commitment is a big honor as a head coach,” he said. “But this is way more about Brenden than it is about me. It’s well deserved for this young man. He’s worked hard for it these twenty games he’s been here. He’s going to a great university with a winning tradition the last few years.”
Even Olson’s pick of Minnesota State is particularly special for Leivermann.
“It’s really awesome” said the Jets’ bench boss, a native of Mankato and alumnus of the Mavericks program. “Obviously the coaches that are there did coach me when I was in college. It’s a great honor to be able to send my first [commitment] to my alma mater. I think they way they’ve run their program over the last six or seven years has been awesome. Ever since Coach Hastings took it over he’s steered it in the right direction. I’m ecstatic for the kid.”
Olson said that he’s more focused than ever on bringing a Robertson Cup Championship to Janesville.
“Well that’s definitely a big part of this league and how it develops players,” Olson said of the balance between team and individual success. “Everyone here is working hard for the same goals. We all want to win and we all want to go Division I. When you work hard as a team and have team success that’s when wins and commitments start to come. My goal is to get others their commitments now. They worked for me and helped me get mine, and I wanna work for them. It’s a “we over me” concept here, and we’re all working hard for each other.”
Olson becomes the seventh player on the 2018-19 Jets roster to earn his Division I commitment, joining defenseman John Prokop (Miami), forward Nicholas Nardella (Michigan Tech), forward Justin Engelkes (Miami), forward Erik Bargholtz (Michigan State), goaltender Cole Brady (Arizona State), and goaltender Garrett Nieto (Union).
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