BOYS' HOCKEY: A new beginning -- Christopherson takes helm of Trojan boys' hockey team

WORTHINGTON -- Patrick Christopherson has dedicated his life to the culture of hockey. As the Worthington boys' hockey team's new coach, he's hoping to pass a similar level of appreciation for the game onto his players. "I've lived it, ate it and...

Brandon Berger, WHS
File Photo Worthington's Brandon Berger celebrates a game-winning goal during a hockey game last season.

WORTHINGTON -- Patrick Christopherson has dedicated his life to the culture of hockey.

As the Worthington boys' hockey team's new coach, he's hoping to pass a similar level of appreciation for the game onto his players.

"I've lived it, ate it and breathed it for the last 33 years," Christopherson said. "I learned how to play in Wayzata, and finished my high school career in Edina, playing junior gold there. I've been coaching hockey for 15 years. This is my 16th year, and I've pretty much covered the full spectrum of age levels."

Christopherson moved with his fiancée to Jackson in February to become the new city administrator. Ever since he moved, he had been looking for an opportunity to coach in the area, and when the position opened up at WHS, it presented the perfect opportunity for him.

"I've been looking for a varsity job for probably the last six or seven (years), so this one just happened to open up, and I saw it and said, "Hey, I'll do it,"' Christopherson said.


Trojan hockey isn't exactly the type of hockey tradition the Christopherson has been used to in his experience -- which has included 10 years in Silver Bay, up in the northwest corner of the state.

Instilling his players with a strong understanding of hockey culture is Christopherson's primary goal as he settles into his position.

"Expectations are a little bit different here than some of the other places I've been, but as far as I know the rules are all the same," Christopherson said. "I expect them to be respectful of hockey, respectful of each other -- respectful specifically of Minnesota hockey. And that's what we're hoping for this year, we're really trying to instill that."

Another task that has fallen on Christopherson has been to try to turn around a program that has lacked recent success -- not only in the scorebook, but in forming all members of the team into a cohesive unit.

This year, Christopherson doesn't foresee any problems with the latter.

"They're a very accepting crew," Christopherson said. "They had a rough season last year, both in terms of the output of their effort, and relationships and that kind of thing. It's really cleaned up this year, it's a good group of kids. We really do try to work them as hard as we can in practice so there's no opportunity for screwing around, and they've been really good about it."

In order to address the issue of in-game success, Christopherson is working on everything right down to the basics with the team.

"They're rough around the edges, they are," Christopherson said. "We're starting with basics basically right now, and I think their willingness to accept that is probably their biggest strength."


Christopherson noted that a big focus will be to work on stick handling and the ability to give and receive passes, a skill that he says "just isn't there" yet.

There are no illusions for the team this year that it can all of s sudden turn things around and become a dominant force in the conference. Christopherson hopes his players make great strides this season, but acknowledges that it is overall a rebuilding year.

"That's one thing that I'm going to really really try to instill with the guys too, is that this is kind of a rebuilding year for the hockey team in general," Christopherson said. "We're not expecting tons of wins -- we don't talk wins and losses. (Assistant coach) Chris (Huls) and I are big on, from the drop of puck, the effort being there. As long as that's there, we're fine."

There were hopes of having a greater turnout this year than there has been, enough to form a JV and a varsity squad, but Christopherson is having to make do with a squad of 17, meaning there will be no JV this year.

The roster is currently unbalanced with three goalies in the ranks, but the hope as the season progresses is that the goalies in the lineup will have the flexibility to play in the open ice as well.

The team has a strong veteran presence with six seniors in the lineup, but the younger players have been given plenty of room to improve and potentially make a big difference.

"We've been really happy with the effort that the younger kids are putting out, and they're really happy to have had more of an opportunity to be skating this year," Christopherson said.

The team's first official game will be on Tuesday at home against Marshall.


Christopherson acknowledges that matching up against a traditional powerhouse so early in the season will be like "being thrown straight into the fire," but he's looking forward to how his players respond to their first big test.

"I've never seen any team skate down here," Christopherson said. "I have no parameters with which to measure, and that's what I'm really looking forward to. Everybody tells me that Marshall's the big boys on the block when it comes to hockey, and I want to see how we stack up against them."

Christopherson said he wasn't nervous for his first game at the helm, stating plainly that "hockey is hockey" -- there's no place that Christopherson would rather be than involved in the action of a hockey game, and he hopes to get his players feeling the same way.

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