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The Drill: Kasyn Kruse lights up the nets for hockey-hungry Luverne

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LUVERNE -- There are still plenty of fine athletes pursuing other boys winter sports in Luverne. But hockey is hot.

Old-timers still remember when Luverne was a basketball town. As far back as the 1960s, at least, the Cardinals reigned regularly as one of the top boys basketball outfits in southwest Minnesota. There was a state championship in 1964, in fact, with state appearances following in 1965, 1967, 1971, 1983, 2005 and 2007.

But in 2014 and 2017, LHS’s comparatively recent obsession with hockey culminated in Class A boys state tournament berths. You can certainly make the case today: Luverne is a hockey town.

Kasyn Kruse was a wrestler when he was young, but according to him, “all” his friends were playing hockey. So he began to play hockey too.

All of Luverne’s hockey fans are glad he did. Today, Kruse is not only the leading goal scorer for the 2017-18 Cardinal skaters. He’s also one of the top scorers in the state.

Head coach Phil Paquette’s LHS boys hockey team currently owns a 17-5 record. The Cardinals’ only losses this year have come at the hands of rivals well outside the southwest Minnesota area -- to Totino-Grace 3-1, Eagan 4-0, Hopkins 2-1, Chanhassen 6-3 and St. Cloud Cathedral 5-4. There’s a good chance the Cardinals will make a repeat trip to the state tournament this year, an unprecedented second consecutive trip.

That’s the goal, pardon the pun.

Recently, The Globe caught up to Kruse in Luverne just prior to a hockey practice session and interviewed the talented senior for another installment of The Drill. Readers can hear the interview and see video footage of Kruse online at Here is a sample of the interview:

QUESTION: Now that the Luverne boys hockey team has made a name for itself, do you feel the pressure of helping to maintain that level of excellence?

ANSWER: “There’s some pressure, knowing that we made the state tournament last year. And no team from Luverne has ever made it in back-to-back years. But I think it’s doable if we play the game right. It’s a little more pressure on me, but I’m always ready for the challenge. And I know our team is, as well.”

Q: You’re a prolific goal scorer. How have you learned to become a dependable offensive player? What’s the secret to putting the puck in the net?

A: “The biggest secret to putting the puck in the net is just practicing every day. I usually spend an hour shooting pucks.”

Q: You also play football. How do the two sports complement each other?

A: “I played running back in football, and it definitely helps out hockey, because I lift weights a lot. So that helps with hockey and football.”