Lighting up the lamp

High scoring captain brings lifetime of experience to UW-Eau Claire


BROTHERLY COMPETITION: Joe Krause, top left, a junior at UW-Eau Claire, played youth hockey on the same team as his older brother, Pete Krause, right, and his younger brother, Adam Krause. Submitted

Story by Karl Enghofer, Graphic Designer

Joe Krause’s hockey journey took him to just about every inch of the nation — from the frozen ponds of Minnesota, to the baron lands of Alaska, and across the Chippewa River to Hobbs Ice Center.

But the UW-Eau Claire junior’s journey began at the rink across the street from where he grew up when he laced up a pair of baby Bauers at 2 years old and learned how to ice skate.

Krause lead the Blugold hockey team to a conference tournament championship and also lead the team in points, which is goals and assists combined.

Krause, who was born in Hermantown, Minn., said growing up there was never an excuse not to practice hockey.

“It was convenient,” Krause said, “It was right across the street or down the block. (The rinks) were very accessable and my mom and dad would skate with me all the time.”

Krause played hockey at Hermantown High School and won a state championship with the team in 2007. After graduation, he made the decision most aspiring hockey players must make, putting college on hold to play in “Juniors” — a competitive hockey league prior to NCAA and the NHL.

The 18-year-old left the familiarities of his small hometown and moved 3,000 miles to Fairbanks, Alaska to play for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, a team in the North American Hockey League. Krause said it was a scary commitment.

“All your friends that don’t play hockey, they’re all signing up for college and getting ready to move on, and I’m on an airplane to Fairbanks, Alaska,” he said, laughing.

There, he lived with a host family for two years who housed four other hockey players — two of which were international players. One was from Sweden who quickly got traded, and another was a Russian who “couldn’t speak a lick of English,” and  once tried cooking a frozen pizza in the microwave while jamming to “Genie in a Bottle” by Christina Aguilera, Krause said.

After two years in Alaska, Krause was recruited to the University of Nebraska-Omaha, a Division I college team. Then, as a 21-year-old freshman, he received many awkward glances from traditional freshmen, but he said that’s what comes with choosing a hockey path over college.

After hurting his back in the weightroom, Krause had to sit much of a season. As NHL recruits poured in to look at his teammates at UNO, Krause decided it was time to venture out and look for a new opportunity.

“What’s a Blugold?”



As an Ice Dog, Krause played with four future would-be Blugolds — Andrew McCabe, Drew Darwitz, Jon Waggoner and Mark Pustin. Krause contacted his old teammate, Pustin, who tried persuading Krause to transfer. The Blugolds’ performance winning the national championship combined with the pressure from Pustin was a solid sell for Krause.

Now 24 years old, Krause played his first year as a Blugold this past season. Head coach Matt Loen and the other coaches gave Krause the honor to wear a “C” on his chest and lead the 30-man squad. There are only two other captains on the team — David Donnellan and Robbie Anderegg.

“He works hard, he doesn’t take any shifts off, he’s passionate about the game,” Loen said. “… And he leads by example.”
As a player coming from the Division I program at UNO, Loen said he had valuable skills and hockey knowledge to bring to Eau Claire’s Division III team.

Krause proved his skill last season by earning an honorable mention All-WIAC team award, and by leading with 21 points. Krause said this took him by surprise.

“You know what’s actually funny about that, is I’ve never really been a big goal scorer or point guy, even in high school,” he said. “There was, I think, ten games where I didn’t even have a point, which I was very disappointed about.”

Krause credits his success to his teammates, seniors Jared Williams and Jon Waggoner, because he’s comfortable with them on the ice, he said.

“Those two work extremely hard, so it’s hard not to get some points when you’re playing with those guys,” he said.

Having played with Waggoner, the third highest Blugold in points, in Alaska, the two snipers developed a similar style.

“We’re both gritty players. We don’t really ‘skill it up’ at all.” Waggoner said, meaning instead of finesse and tricky maneuvers, they play conventional hockey — finding each other, getting the puck on the net and being prepared for rebounds.

During the two years they played together in Alaska, the men developed a close friendship off the ice, and even got a job together on a farm.

They went from assisting each other with goals on the ice, to assisting the farmer’s wife with live cow births.

“It was pretty funny … we’ve never done anything like that in the past,” Waggoner said.

He said Krause is the type of person who is passionate about hockey, fun to be around and gets along with everyone. He also said Krause
hates losing and that shows sometimes. The combination makes him a good captain, Waggoner said.

Although Krause lead the team in points last season, his 21 would have correlated to sixth highest on the previous year’s national championship-winning team. Jordan Singer lead it with 36 points.

When the Blugolds didn’t receive a playoff bid to the NCAA playoffs last season, Krause was outraged.

“It was an absolute joke,” Krause said. “You win your conference and you don’t get a bid to the national tournament?”

Krause said being ranked seventh in the nation, winning the conference tournament, and above all, being the defending national champions should have earned the Blugolds a playoff bid.

With that off his chest, he said he was not surprised UW-Stevens Point made it to the ship.

“They are a good team,” Krause said. “They are a very good team.”

He said the Eau Claire team predicted if not them, it would have been Stevens Point vs. St. Norbert, battling for the national championship, which was the result.

The freshmen who played last season dominated their Junior teams with upwards of 60 points, Krause said. The step between Juniors and college is a big one, he said, but added he thinks the team has some serious young talent to show Eau Claire next season.

Fourth period

Krause is a communications major and a history minor at Eau Claire. He has one year of eligibility left to attract an NHL or other professional scout and with graduation nearing, he is uncertain of his future plans.

He said his Swedish roommate back in Alaska is now a scout in the Swedish hockey league, and said there’s a good chance he has an invitation to play professionally in Europe. But professional hockey in Europe is not as glamourous as it is in the U.S., nor do the athletes make much money.

Even if he doesn’t get recruited, Krause said he is rooting for his younger brother, Adam Krause to make it to the show. Adam Krause is a captain for the University of Minnesota-Duluth hockey team, which is consistently one of the top teams in the nation.

Joe Krause said he can’t make up his mind today, but prolonging a career even further and the numerous “what-ifs” might be too much to bear.
“You never know, I might want to move on with my life,” Krause said. “At 25, I think I had a pretty good run.”