Father-son relationship works best for Ryan Sandelin
Hermantown senior forward Ryan Sandelin is heading to Minnesota State-Mankato to play college hockey in the near future. He won't be playing for his father, Scott Sandelin, at Minnesota Duluth, and the reason is simple.Ryan just wants his dad to ...
Hermantown senior forward Ryan Sandelin is heading to Minnesota State-Mankato to play college hockey in the near future. He won’t be playing for his father, Scott Sandelin, at Minnesota Duluth, and the reason is simple.
Ryan just wants his dad to be his dad. Simple as that.
“I just like having him as my dad. I don’t need him to be my coach,” Ryan said earlier this week. “In a way, he still sort of coaches me. He tells me what I need to work on all the time. In a sense, he’s still giving me advice and all that type of stuff, but it’s not formal like he’s my coach, like if I don’t do that I’m not going to play.
“I think that’s something that I like. It gives me an extra opinion and he can give it to me from a dad/coach standpoint. That’s what I really like about our relationship.”
Ryan Sandelin announced his verbal commitment to the Mavericks a week ago Friday on Twitter, ending one of the Northland’s bigger hockey recruiting mysteries of whether father and son would team up together as Bulldogs.
In addition to Minnesota State, Ryan Sandelin said he was recruited by fellow Division I colleges Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Colorado College and Harvard. Sandelin, a 4.0 student who said he’d need to raise his ACT score to play for the Crimson, is interested in a career in sports marketing after hockey so the business program at Mankato really appealed to him.
Of course, UMD also was in the picture. But it wasn’t necessarily Scott Sandelin who had him thinking about becoming a Bulldog, but rather two teammates from last year’s Class A state championship team - Cole Koepke and Dylan Samberg - who committed to UMD over the summer.
“They always kept asking me, ‘Are you going to play there, are you going to play there.’ I felt like it was best for me to stay away from having my dad be my coach,” said Ryan Sandelin, who scored 20 goals and 25 assists last year for the Hawks. “It was going to be easier for me not to have my dad as my coach and to not play here. I like where I decided to play. I really enjoy Mankato. I love the city, I love the campus, love the program.”
Ryan is excited to play for fifth-year head coach Mike Hastings, who has led the Mavericks to a 100-49-14 mark in his first four seasons, plus three NCAA tournament berths, two WCHA regular-season championships and one WCHA postseason title.
Prior to coaching at Minnesota State, Hastings was an assistant for Scott Sandelin’s mentor, Dean Blais, for three seasons at Nebraska-Omaha. Hastings spent 14 seasons as head coach of the United States Hockey League’s Omaha Lancers, where he won three league titles.
Hastings also was an assistant under Sandelin on Team USA at the 2005 World Junior Championships in Grand Forks, N.D., and Thief River Falls, Minn. That very well may have been where Hastings and Ryan Sandelin first met, playing knee hockey in the hallways.
Ryan was 6 years old at the time and it’s one of his earliest memories of Hastings.
“He’s done a great job wherever he’s been. He’s one of the winningest coaches in the USHL. He’s had a great start at Mankato. It’s a good spot,” Scott Sandelin said of his son’s choice.
“It’s exciting. I’m very happy for him. We’re proud parents. This is great. He’s excited about it and that’s the most important thing. I’ll have to schedule them, I guess.”
Ryan enjoys the Mavericks’ style of play and their intensity. It fits how he likes to play.
He also likes Hastings’ blunt coaching style, which Ryan says has no gray area. He tells you what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. He’s also willing to work with players and help them improve where they need to improve, Ryan said.
That could become important if the younger Sandelin does someday face off against former high school teammates Koepke and Samberg.
“They know everything I’m trying to do,” Ryan said. “Maybe by that point I’ll have some new moves in my arsenal to try and weasel my way around those guys.”
Ryan Sandelin said it won’t be weird to someday face those two, but it will be different to face his dad in Duluth. That’d be a new experience for both.
“Going against my dad would be sort of weird. I’ve never experienced something like that,” Ryan said. “Especially if it’s here (in Duluth), I think it would be very cool to come back and play at Amsoil Arena, where I work. It would be very cool to come back here and play some day.”