Cole Jungwirth’s stay with the Minnesota Moose this past season was brief, but enjoyable and rewarding.
After all, he was able to turn it into an NCAA Division III commitment to Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Jungwirth said that Moose Head Coach Jon Jonasson helped him make first contact with Wilkes and he was sold on several things, including the ability to play on two of the school’s teams.
“Wilkes first contacted Jon late in the year, after my first couple games with the Moose. Jon has a wide range of college contacts, so we were able to narrow down what I wanted my college experience to be, and to go from there,” said Jungwirth. “After talking extensively with Jon, my advisor, and my family, I made the decision. Wilkes offered me the ability to get there and play right away, major in Corporate Finance, and to play golf as well.”
Jungwirth, a 20-year-old defenseman from nearby Bloomington, Minn., originally planned on returning to play Tier-2 hockey in Alberta this past season, but it turned into a lot of waiting and he finally decided to return to the Midwest late in the campaign.
“This was going to be my second year up in Lloydminster in the AJHL, before things got cut short,” Jungwirth said. “We were able to get a handful of preseason games as well as two regular season games in, before the Alberta government shut everything down.”
“I waited as long as I could to hopefully restart the season, but it got to a point where I needed to just get back on the ice and play games again,” he said. “I looked at a few options back home in Minnesota, and the Moose ended up being the team I decided on. Being close to home, as well as joining an extremely successful team were two reasons why I felt they would be a great fit for me.”
Despite coming in late in the campaign, Jungwirth said the other players made him feel comfortable and the chemistry developed quickly.
“When I got home from Alberta, I hadn’t skated in about three months due to the COVID restrictions, so I didn’t expect to get back to game speed right away,” said Jungwirth. “[Jonasson] told me right away there was no pressure, just go out there and have fun and enjoy playing the game again. We didn’t lose any of our final six games of the regular season, so we went into the playoffs feeling good.”
Jungwirth wasn’t the only one that needed to move in order to play. The Moose picked up its entire organization from the Twin City suburbs and played the second half of its season in Spooner, Wis., a small, but hockey-savvy town in northern Wisconsin.
“Any junior hockey team moving to a new location is going to be difficult, but the reception in Spooner for us was awesome,” said Jungwirth. “Jon did a great job making sure that we had all of the tools to succeed and improve throughout the year, even away from the Moose home in Minnesota. The rink and community loved having us there and we’re thankful they allowed us to come there and make Spooner our temporary home for Moose hockey.”
Part of the reason Jungwirth chose to play with the Moose was the team’s reputation for being competitive in the USPHL’s Midwest West Division. They showed that strength by winning a tough series against the defending division champion Hudson Havoc and qualifying for the USPHL Premier Nationals in Chesapeake, Va.
“The Havoc were a tough team to beat in playoffs,” said Jungwirth. “Anyone can beat anyone in playoff hockey, but we were prepared going into the series. We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy road to Hampton Roads. The Moose have been notorious for deep playoff runs over the years, so we wanted to continue that legacy.
“I wasn’t surprised at the competition level in Virginia, we knew everyone was going to be good,” he added. “Unfortunately, we came up a little bit short of our goal for a championship.”
The USPHL congratulates Cole Jungwirth, his family, the Minnesota Moose and Wilkes University for his commitment.