There's a column for Monday's Star Tribune on the history of St. Cloud hockey dating to the 1960s. Bill Frantti is a hero of the piece.
Frantti led the fight for an indoor ice sheet that finally came to a conclusion in 1972, when the development of St. Cloud's Municipal Athletic Complex (the MAC) included an indoor rink.
Frantti revived varsity hockey at St. Cloud Tech and coached until his retirement in 1985. Then, he started a "K and pre-K program'' at the MAC.
"We had the kids going to afternoon kindergarten on the ice in the morning, the kids going to morning kindergarten on the ice in the afternoon, and pre-kindergarten kids on the ice over the noon hour,'' Frantti said.
The graduates of the little kids program at the MAC include Nate Schmidt, the Gophers' excellent junior defenseman.
"I think we first had Nate on the ice when he was 3,'' Frantti said. "He's a great kid and an outstanding defenseman. He was a Huskies fans ... went to the games and cheered for St. Cloud. Broke my heart when he signed with the Gophers.''
That decision has not affected the mutual admiration between Frantti and Schmidt. Brian Deutsch, the Gophers SID for hockey, was asked by me to get a comment from Schmidt on his participation in Frantti's kids program. This was Nate's response:
"Bill Frantti is one of the most-influential people in my life hockey-wise, and probably the most-influential when I started playing hockey. Working with Bill, you learned just a ton about the sport, and you learned it the right way. It was a great experience and a big reason I'm where I'm at today.''
Frantti is grateful that St. Cloud State has found a defenseman to fill whatever void existed because of Schmidt's decision to play for the Gophers. That player is Nick Jensen, a junior from Rogers.
"I've always considered a top defenseman to be the 'spine' of a hockey team,'' Frantti said. "And Jensen is the spine for the Huskies. He's the best college defenseman in the country.''
Jensen is a Colorado draft choice and the expectation is the Avs will sign him before his senior season.
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