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NorthStar Academy team accepted into new hockey league

Rick Randazzo

Despite not yet having a team assembled, NorthStar Christian Academy in Alexandria has been accepted into the inaugural season of the North American Hockey League’s Prep League.

In February, NorthStar received news that it was awarded an affiliate agreement through Minnesota Hockey, the governing body of youth and amateur hockey in the state.

“We are able to have our academy team playing next year,” said Rick Randazzo, Fellowship of Christian Athletes hockey director.

John Olver will serve as the coach for the team, Randazzo said. Olver is from Canada and has 35 years of professional, collegiate and junior coaching experience. He played college hockey at the University of Michigan.

Though no official offers have been extended, NorthStar has begun recruitment efforts for the team. According to Randazzo, potential players have visited Alexandria and 10 scouts have been providing information about NorthStar across the country. After attending a prospect camp in Boston in May, Randazzo says they will begin offering spots.

“We’re starting to recruit players in Minnesota, across the country and internationally,” he said. “We think we’ll have (players from) all three of those on the team.”

The NAHL’s Prep League schedule will provide the team with 16 games. Randazzo says they are also hoping to schedule games with other hockey academies across the country, as well as take part in a few tournaments.

The NAHL Prep League has no affiliation to the Minnesota State High School League, of which Alexandria Area High School is a member. Randazzo says NorthStar is not seeking out players from the high school.

“If people reach out – and we have had players reach out from Alexandria and ask for information – we provide the information,” he said. “We’re not actively targeting Alexandria players.”

Randazzo says he understands why people would be concerned about the potential of the high school team losing players, but says there is no pressure from him or his team.    

“I understand that it’s the unknown so people are nervous,” he said. “But ultimately I’ve said from day one, it’s up to that parent and that player. If we have something that they think can help their son, we’ll talk to them. If they’re interested, great. If they’re not, that’s fine, too.”

In the future, NorthStar Christian Academy board member DuWayne Pauls says the hope is that dorms will be constructed for players to live in. In the meantime, they will live with host families in the area.

“A place to live and to continue education is something we owe these kids and their parents for sending them here from so far away,” Paul said.

Players’ education will be handled by NorthStar, with a combination of classroom and online courses.

“They’ll be taking full-time class loads here in NorthStar next year,” Randazzo said. “We’ll be responsible for education, monitoring grades, proctoring tests. … NorthStar will be the primary educator of these students.”

Other teams in the prep league include Fountain Valley School (Colorado Springs, Colorado), Gentry Academy (Vadnais Heights, Minnesota), Pilot Mound Hockey Academy (Pilot Mound, Manitoba, Canada), St. Rita of Cascia School (Chicago, Illinois) and Tahoe Prep Hockey Academy (Lake Tahoe, California).

The NAHL is expected to name more teams to the prep league in coming weeks.

Construction update

Construction for the NorthStar Sports Complex is well underway and it is on track to open mid-September.

About $6.5 million of the necessary $8.1 million has been raised, according to Randazzo.

The 70,000-square-foot facility will include a field house, hockey rink and chapel on a 40-acre campus, with space for future expansion. The arena will be the national headquarters for hockey for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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