Photo credit: Holly Peterson, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Goaltender Alex Schilling is having a month to remember. He got a chance to play at the Xcel Energy Center. Then, he helped Wayzata High School capture their first ever boys hockey state title. And now, he is an Austin Bruin.
“After the State Tournament finished up, [Bruins assistant coach] Keenan Kelly reached out to me and we talked about coming down for a skate and I was really excited to hear from the Austin Bruins in particular,” Schilling said.
Schilling signed a tender agreement shortly thereafter. Bruins head coach Kyle Grabowski said it wasn’t a difficult decision.
“We were really impressed with who he was as a person and obviously his performance,” Grabowski said. “As far as his character and hockey-wise it was a no brainer for us.”
As for that “performance,” Schilling stopped 73 of 78 shots in the State Tournament, capped off by a 30 save performance in Wayzata’s 5-3 win over Eden Prairie in the Championship game.
“I remember talking to prior goalies that played at ‘The X’ and they were all like ‘this is weird, I feel so calm in front of this many people’ and I felt the exact same way,” Schilling said. “In that big stage I was so relaxed, calm. I was tracking the puck really nicely which helped our team. It was kind of a weird feeling to be that relaxed in that environment but I’m glad I was.”
Calmness was required by the entire Trojans team, who found themselves behind 3-1 into the late stages of the 2nd period. Then, adversity really set in when they took a five-minute major penalty.
“The cards were stacked against us and we took a timeout and we had some great senior leadership on our team this year. The captains stepped up and said we all got to calm down and figure this out,” Schilling recalled.
The team responded with two goals (one shorthanded) to tie it up before the period ended. They added two in the third to go on to the title. It was the first in program history, adding an extra element to the thrill of winning it all.
“You’ll see a banner on our home ice and go back and get to say I was part of that first state championship team,” Schilling said. “Wayzata has given me so much to succeed and to do this for the community is really something special.”
Schilling has family in the Austin area – including an aunt, uncle, and grandmother. However, that was only a small consideration in his decision to sign on with the Bruins.
“I loved the atmosphere that the arena had and I’ve heard that the Bruins have a great organization,” he said. “They’re top of the league each year and I wanted to be part of a winning organization. The family thing was obviously a factor but not as much as wanting to be part of the Bruins.”
Schilling describes his goaltending style as one of “high compete level,” stressing his athleticism and burning desire for winning. His goals for Bruins camp over the summer are clear.
“Get acclimated to the Junior lifestyle and the Junior pace of play,” Schilling said. “To continue my success into camp, making the squad and making a difference for the Bruins.”