Article – Post Bulletin – Jason Feldman Sept 20, 2018
Photo – Post Bulletin – Joe Ahlquist
Casey Mignone and Mike Aikens have coached Logan Olson for less than a month.
But the coaches of the first-year Rochester Grizzlies junior hockey team have to suppress smiles when asked about the 2017 Rochester Lourdes High School graduate.
“He’s a tough kid,” said Aikens, the Grizzlies’ assistant coach. “He’s physical. You go in the corner with him and its’ going to be a battle. And I think if the wrong guy makes him angry … he can be pretty tough when it’s all said and done.”
At 5-feet-11, 180 pounds, Olson isn’t the biggest blue-liner on the roster for the Grizzlies — who play their first-ever regular-season home games against Evansville (Ind.) at 7:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Rochester Recreation Center — but he may be the toughest, pound for pound.
“He’s physical, has some really good habits and was one of our better D last weekend,” Mignone, the Grizzlies’ head coach, said. “Sometimes we have to get his pace up a little bit, but that’s just him adjusting to a different level. That’s not just him, it’s everybody on the team.”
Olson’s path back home has been a winding one.
Following a senior season in which he posted nine goals and 19 points for Lourdes, Olson spent fall camp with the Johnstown (Pa.) Tomahawks of the North American Hockey League. He played in a handful of preseason games with them, but was released when the team picked up a handful of players who were cut from USHL clubs.
That led Olson to the Iowa Wild AAA U18 program, where he excelled as a 200-foot defenseman who was responsible first in his own end. He recorded 10 assists in 30 games with Iowa. He participated in orientation camp this summer with the NAHL’s Austin Bruins – a team owned by Craig Patrick and Mike Cooper, who also own the Grizzlies – and came away with some positive reviews, as well as some advice on how to improve.
“They said they want to see me develop a little bit more,” Olson said, “so I came here to work on my skills, get better and hopefully make it back up there.
“I just have to stay disciplined and work hard all the time, no matter what happens or where the puck is, D-zone or O-zone, just have to always go hard and get the job done.”
Olson and the Grizzlies received a harsh welcome to the NA3HL last weekend in the franchise’s first regular-season game, when they lost to defending West Division champion Granite City 10-0. But Olson said the team went back to work this week and will use that season-opening loss as a learning experience.
“A lot of our guys hadn’t played any games in juniors before and were maybe a little nervous, so hopefully it helped get the jitters out,” he said. “We’ll put that behind us and get it going here this weekend.”
Olson was a jack of all trades for three seasons for Lourdes, where he recorded 15 goals and 37 points in 79 career games over three seasons. He’ll likely play in all situations – including on the power play and penalty kill – for the Grizzlies, too.
“He has some offense, but in his game, he’s more of a defensive puck-mover who will chip in some offense,” Mignone said. “He’s not a coast-to-coast guy, but he makes a really good first pass and he can jump in the play because he reads it well. I expect him to be a staple on the (penalty kill) because of how tough he is, how he’s willing to block shots.
“He’s responded well to the coaching and we’ve seen some really good strides already. He’s a good kid, a quiet kid. A lead-by-example guy.”