Ice in his blood
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A glimpse into the life of a hockey-obsessed 24-year-old
Most 3-year-olds are busy spending their days at the park or learning how to count to 10.
But one Blugold spent his early years infatuated with a historic sport that has been around for over a century.
Mac Jansen was born and raised in White Bear Lake, Minnesota among a hockey-loving family. His father and older brother were already in love with the sport, so the game has been engrained in Jansen from the start.
After playing youth hockey since before he could remember, Jansen attended White Bear Lake Area High School, where he excelled in the forward position.
Despite excelling at the game of hockey from an early age, when the time to choose a college at which he could continue his education and athletic career, Jansen said the decision wasn’t an easy one.
“After my junior hockey career, I was kind of scrambling to find a school, and I ended up with two of my best friends that I have known my whole life when we all talked to coach Loen,” Jansen said. “It seemed like the right fit and it has been a great time.”
When Jansen arrived at UW-Eau Claire, a large group of freshmen did as well.
When the freshman class Jansen was a part of first touched their skates down on the rink in Hobbs Ice Arena, Jansen was already trying to set himself apart as a solid scoring option. He was confident in his scoring ability, but he said he learned his freshman year it takes more than one great athlete to succeed in college hockey.
“I learned that it takes a whole team to end the season on top,” Jansen said. “You need everyone on the same page, you need great leadership in the locker room and you need good coaching. Both of our captains were great role models. One of our captains was an All-American and the other almost led the nation in goals. I had some pretty good guys to show me the ropes and build off of what they taught me. I plan to try and model that myself this coming year as a senior.”
Confidence is an area many 20-something college students have trouble with, especially when they are thrust into a brand new environment for the first time. Jansen does not struggle with this and seems most comfortable with his skill set on the ice.
“I’m sure a lot of people would say the same thing, I’m an offensive player,” Jansen said. “I feel that my role on the team is to generate offense and step up and score a goal when we need it in a big time moment. Everyone loves being that guy, but that is just something I’ve always found myself doing on every team I played on growing up.”
Even though the transition into college hockey didn’t require an intensive amount of readjustment, Jansen said an area that continues to be challenging is balancing schoolwork and an intense athletic workload.
Jansen said there are times the team is forced to play a large number of games in short span of days, and coincidentally this is typically when teachers are planning exams. Nevertheless, Jansen has continued to work to become a better time manager so neither of the two main areas of his life has to suffer on any level.
Jansen’s time at Eau Claire has flown by, and his junior season has just ended with a loss to UW-Stevens Point in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) game, the first time the team has reached said game in a couple of years. Jansen said this is his greatest accomplishment yet as a hockey player.
The final statistics for Jansen back up his claim that he is a looming offensive threat for the Blugolds. He racked up 12 goals scored in 28 games played, 11 assists and had a plus/minus differential of +5.
Sophomore defensemen Tyler Hart has been Jansen’s teammate for the past two seasons, and he said Jansen is a great player in addition to being a great teammate.
“I’ve gotten to know him pretty well the past few years,” Hart said. “I grew up playing against him a little bit, because he is from White Bear Lake. Mac is a good guy and I thought he had a really great season. He’ll get a lot of playing time next year as a senior, and I’m excited to see what he brings to the team next year.”
With the 2016-17 season behind him, Jansen said the team needs to focus on maturing, as players and needs leaders to step up and fill the shoes of the many seniors who will graduate in two short months.
You can tell just how much hockey is on Jansen’s mind by what he plans to say to the younger players in the program before he enters his senior season. He said success isn’t about any philosophical ideas, success is about just giving it your all.
“You can’t take anything for granted,” Jansen said. “There were some nights this year when we played some weaker opponents and we ended up not beating them. In all reality, that is what killed us at the end of the season. It isn’t like the junior hockey level where you have 60 games and you can kind of take some nights off. Once you get to this level you only have 25 games a year, so you really have to bring it all every night and show up.”
The ice is melting. The skates will remain off for a few months. And the offseason is beginning to set in for Jansen and the Eau Claire men’s ice hockey team. Jansen said he plans to spend his free time in as many relaxing ways as possible.
“Once we get rid of this weather, I’ll be out on the golf course quite a bit,” Jansen said, “and try and find my way out to the lake if I’m not working or spending time with my family and friends.”
Ice is in his blood. Growing up in a quiet city in Minnesota, Jansen hasn’t known anything else besides hockey since before his earliest memories. His time at the university isn’t over, and he plans to make the most of his senior season at Hobbs Ice Arena in Eau Claire with his brothers in blue and gold.
Hockey isn’t only a game to Jansen. It is a way of life.