NA Now: Minnesota Magicians | North American Hockey League
August 27, 2021
The NA Now series features an overview of all NAHL teams for the 2021-22 season, with one new team highlighted daily, leading through to the start of the regular season. NA Now takes a look at every NAHL team, including interviews with all NAHL head coaches, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the season, including looking at their strengths as a team and their thoughts on the league. He will also reflect on last season and how each team fared and what they achieved.
Head Coach: Nick Bydal (1st Season)
Record 2020-21: 48 GP, 24-21-3, 51 pts. (3rd in the Midwest Division)
Top scorer 2020-21: Luc Laylin (38 points)
Playoffs 2021: Lost in the semi-finals of the Robertson Cup against the Aberdeen Wings, 2 games to 0
2021-22 Division: Midwest
First regular season game: Friday, September 10and against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Home opening: Friday, September 10and against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs
It’s been a momentous year for the Magicians in 2020-21 under freshman head coach and former NAHL and NHL defenseman Stu Bickel. Despite completing 3rd during the regular season in the Midwest Division, the Magicians found magic in the Robertson Cup playoffs. The club rode to Fairbanks and swept the Ice Dogs in three games, followed by a 3-2 win over the Kenai River Brown Bears in the Midwest Division Finals to earn their first-ever trip to the Robertson Cup championship. .
At the Robertson Cup, the hometown Magicians struggled to find the back of the net and were swept away by the Aberdeen Wings in two games by scores of 5-1 and 2-1. However, the season was a success for the Magicians, who finished the season with 16 players committed to playing NCAA hockey.
The offseason brought some changes to the organization as Bickel would eventually take a job in the American Hockey League (AHL) as an assistant with the Springfield Thunderbirds. Longtime general manager and assistant coach Gavin Bickford also held another position. So, for the second time in as many years, the Magicians were looking for a new head coach and turned to a familiar face to lead the way.
June 28and, former Wizards assistant coach Nick Bydal has been hired as the team’s next head coach. Most recently, Bydal, who also played in the NAHL, was an assistant coach for the University of St. Thomas men’s hockey team from 2017-2021. He was also an assistant coach for the Magicians from 2014-2016 before to take up his first head coaching position with College Station in the NA3HL.
“I’m thrilled to be back in junior hockey. Playing 60 games in the NAHL versus 25 games in the NCAA is a big difference. I think in junior hockey there’s a lot more roster turnover and you’re always trying to improve your roster. In the NCAA you’ve had guys for 4-5 years and there’s hardly any movement during the season. I am thrilled to be back with the Magicians organization and to continue the momentum established since last season’s race. We are in an ideal situation and I look forward to continuing with this success,” said Bydal.
Bydal immediately got down to business, which included running the magicians’ draft and tryout camps. Several key elements of the 2020-21 squad were gone and there were many areas to address. “We had to take care of our backline during the offseason. We lost all of our goalkeepers and almost all of our defensive corps from last season. It was one of our priorities in the repechage. We had to build a core,” Bydal said. “We have a good group of returning attackers so that should help, but our defense will be entirely new.”
The Magicians have key returns in the lineup, especially on offense. This includes Gavin Best (16 points), Lucas Kanta (15 points), Robert Christy (12 points), Spencer Light (7 points) and Mason Hendrickson (7 points). Both Christy and Best will be entering their third season with the Magicians in the NAHL. The only returning defenseman is Will Svenddal, who had 7 points in 41 games played last season.
The Magicians will be in a new Midwest Division, which includes the addition of in-state rival Minnesota Wilderness, in addition to the return of Springfield and the addition of Anchorage. “It will be great to play even more at the Wilderness. We’ve had a great rivalry with them over the years and now that they’re in our division, it should just add to that. All the teams in the Midwest have been good the last few years and you don’t know what you’re going to get with Anchorage, but we’re thrilled to have them in the division,” Bydal said.
“This team had a great run last year, so it would be good to go back there and try to win the Cup. I think getting back there is our main goal this year. I think the goals more immediate ones are making sure we gel quickly as a team We’re still building the team and we’re not sure of all the pieces of the puzzle right now, so that’s basically what it’s all about. acts during the month of September,” said Bydal.
Next stop: Minnesota Wilderness