Before a hockey game, you’d probably see goaltender Jack Robbel alone at Noodles & Company ordering his favorite pregame meal – Japanese Pan Noodles with steak.
Robbel, player for the North American Hockey League (NAHL) team, the Minnesota Magicians, makes sure to eat a full meal before entering the rink. This is just one of the few traditions that Robbel does before game time.
“I try to keep to myself during game days,” Robbel said. “I try getting to the game two hours before and only warming up what I really feel needs to be warmed up. I try to not get out of my comfort zone, not get too hyped up. I don’t really take my headphones off until we get on the ice for warm ups. After warm ups, that’s when my fun side comes out.”
Robbel, 19, is ranked first in the league and recently committed to the Division One program at Lake Superior State University (LSSU) in Michigan. He is from Bloomington, Minnesota and has been playing hockey since he was just 8-years-old.
When Robbel isn’t on the ice, he spends a lot of his time playing golf. The athlete first put a golf club in his hand when he was just 2-years-old.
The Minnesota native has a 0.952 save percentage and made 260 saves this season.
Head coach A.J. Bucchino is impressed with Robbel’s performance so far, considering the player began the season with an injury.
“[Robbel] is number one in the league for statistics. He missed the first three weeks of the season and still managed to make it to the top,” Bucchino said. “From game one until now, he’s progressed dramatically on and off the ice.”
Although this is his first year as a Magicians player, it isn’t his first season in the NAHL. Last season, Robbel played for the Minot Minotauros in Minot, North Dakota.
When he played for the Minotauros, Robbel posted a 0.896 save percentage and made 509 saves throughout the entire season.
“He’s a very athletic and dynamic player for a goalie,” Bucchino said. “He’s one of the few goalies in the league that is really good at handling the puck. He competes for every shot no matter the challenge.”
But, there’s just something about the Magicians that makes him love the sport even more.
“One of the best things about our team is not that we have the most skilled team – we don’t have anyone who really stands out from anyone else – it’s that every night we seem to go out there and we find a way to win,” Robbel said. “Everything will be put against us and we’ll still find a way to win.”
The team grew so much closer after their trip to Alaska a few weeks ago. Ever since, Robbel said that he’s gotten to know players that he really didn’t know prior to that trip.
“The kindness and respect he shows to his teammates is incredible,” Bucchino said. “I know the guys look up to him in many ways.”
Robbel thinks his competitive energy before games and at practice help his players feel the same way.
“I don’t like to give up on a play, regardless if I think I can get to the puck before it goes in the net or not I think all of the guys on the ice feed off of that,” Robbel said. “When they see someone else working hard, they want to work hard as well. I try to keep our players as motivated as possible, keeping the talk up on the ice, making sure that if we’re home or away, we’re still creating our own energy.”
Even though he loves being a Magician, the goalie looks forward to being an LSSU student and athlete. Robbel is torn between two different majors – special education and kinesiology.
“I’m most looking forward to the whole competitive side of it. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to since I was a kid,” Robbel said. “Minnesota based kids grow up saying they want to play college hockey because of the atmosphere we were all raised in. So, just the realization when I get there, saying ‘Wow, I’m finally here playing college hockey.’ I think that will be the thing that I’m most looking forward to.”
Written by Rachel Bucchino