Jacob friede/lakeland times

The competition for starting goalie went one-on-one as practice began. Goalie Collin Geulcher fires a shot at fellow goaltender Luci Boyer.
Jacob friede/lakeland times

The competition for starting goalie went one-on-one as practice began. Goalie Collin Geulcher fires a shot at fellow goaltender Luci Boyer.
Should first-year Lakeland head hockey coach Jake Suter find himself this season, when needing to motivate his hockey players to defend their home ice, yelling “This is our house!” he will mean it, almost literally.  

The former Division I college and professional player practically never leaves the Lakeland Hawks Ice Arena, because when he’s not coaching there, he’s working.

“The rink manager job became available and I applied and got it and then the high school job was available, too,” Suter said.  “It was good timing.”

Suter, the son of NHL Hall of Famer Gary Suter, has recently moved back to the area where he grew up, being raised in Lac du Flambeau. He returns after playing junior hockey for the Owatonna (Minn.) Express and Sioux City (Iowa) Musketeers before a four-year career at NCAA Division I UMass-Lowell, who beat the UW Badgers 6-1 en route to the 2013 Frozen Four. He then played minor league pro hockey for the Washington Capitals’ minor league affiliate the South Carolina Stingrays for one season and on the Strasbourg, France, professional team for one season. Then he coached the Madison Capitals USHL hockey team for two years. 

Suter will be able to draw on this wealth of experience this season, but it’s his most recent experience with his current players that he finds most valuable as a coach this year.

“We were able to be on the ice with the kids all summer,” Suter said. “I’ve known these kids all very well. Coaching is all about coaching individuals. Some kids you can be harder on, some kids you have to take it more easy on. The more you know a kid’s personality, how they are outside the rink and everything, and know them as people,  you get the most out of them.”

But before he can ask anything from his players, he first has to determine which players he will be asking.

“Right now we’re doing tryouts,” Suter said.

Whoever makes the cut will have to be ready to roll because the coach wants to be at full speed and contact when the season kicks off Nov. 27 in Marshfield.

“The harder we practice the more easy the games will be,” Suter explained. “We don’t want to get to the games and be scared or not be full contact from day one.”

If the players on the team are looking for an example of the kind of work ethic needed to prepare for a successful season, they need only look to their head coach.

“Long day,” Suter said after practice early this week. “We skated this morning at 6 a.m. I coached at practice this morning, was here all day working and I’ll be here until, like, 9:30. But I love it.”

Jacob Friede may be reached at jacob@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.

com.