Mitchell's Loes competes at invite-only hockey campMitchell High School junior Austin Loes turned 17 years old Sunday.
By: Travis Mester, The Daily Republic
Mitchell High School junior Austin Loes turned 17 years old Sunday.
A 4 a.m. wake-up call and 12-hour car ride back from Fishers, Ind., served as his birthday celebration.
But it was worth it for the chance to show off his hockey skills to professional scouts, Loes said.
The standout on the Mitchell Marlins hockey team competed at an invite-only junior prospect camp on Friday and Saturday in the suburb northeast of Indianapolis.
“There were quite a few guys that were pretty good,” Loes said of the camp that hosted about 130 players between the age of 16 and 20. “There were a lot of guys that have already played in junior hockey, so they were pretty experienced.
“It was a little faster-pace game with the older guys; there was a lot more hitting.”
Loes was invited to the camp after he, along with Mitchell teammate Spencer Lawrence, attended the USA Hockey 16-and-under Tier II National Championship Tournament March 30 through April 3 in Reston, Va. Loes and Lawrence helped Team South Dakota to a second-place finish at the tournament and were two of the top scorers on the team.
Loes said he and his father, Tim, left at 6 a.m. Thursday morning and checked in at the camp Friday morning. After check-in, the camp was broken into teams and each team was given 45 minutes to practice before their first game.
“I was a little nervous when I got there Friday morning,” Loes said. “I didn’t know any of the other guys there, so that was weird; the biggest thing I noticed was how big guys were.
“I was playing against guys that are 19, 20 years old. They were like 240 pounds it seemed and I swear there was a guy at check-in that was like 6-(foot)-11-(inches).”
Loes’ team played one game Friday and two Saturday. Loes had two assists in the three games, he said.
He said he hopes his performances over the past few weeks at high-caliber events will help his chances in moving to a higher level of hockey in the future.
Loes said he has been contacted by the Aberdeen Wings and the Alaska Avalanche, two junior hockey teams that are part of the North American Hockey League. Loes will be going to a tryout camp for the Wings on May 13 in Roseville, Minn., and another tryout for the Avalanche on May 20 in Andover, Minn. Both tryouts run for three days.
“Usually, you’d have to go play for a junior league and then colleges look at you,” Loes said of a possible post-high school rout to a career in hockey. “You’d take two years off of schooling; when I graduate next year, that’s something I’ll have to decide.”
Marlins coach John Lord said he hopes the work he’s put in this summer only helps Loes down the line.
“It’s exciting to watch someone like that who cares so much about the sport take the time to get even better,” Lord said. “You’re a product of your surroundings, so the more talented people you skate with will only improve your game.”
Loes’ father said the 12-hour drive was worth while if it helps his son fulfill a future on the ice.
“I was there watching everything and he definitely took it to the next level,” Tim Loes said of his son’s play this past weekend. “There were definitely guys a lot bigger, but he wasn’t outmanned by any means.”
Austin Loes said whatever happens with his future in hockey, he’ll have to credit his experience from the past weekend. He currently plans to play for the Marlins next year.
“I’m totally glad I went,” Loes said. “I’m really experienced now and I’ve seen what it takes to play with guys of that caliber.”