Kenai River Brown Bears forward Luke Posner brings the puck up the ice against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Nov. 3, 2018, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Luke Posner brings the puck up the ice against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Nov. 3, 2018, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Bears forward Posner overcomes rough start to summer

The 2017 Minnesota state hockey tournament should have been a dream come true for 18-year-old Kenai River Brown Bears forward Luke Posner.

A senior, Posner was captain, on the top line and had led Mahtomedi High School to a 16-11-1 record and into the state tournament for the first time in his career.

Playing in Class A, the Zephyrs were seeded third and got to play their first game in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, the home of the Minnesota Wild.

Then the dream became a nightmare.

Mahtomedi was upset 3-1 in the first round by Northfield High School. Second-seeded Delano High School also was upset, so the Zephyrs played the second seed in the first round of consolation and got drilled 8-1.

Posner had been counting on a run at state to get lots of looks and launch a junior hockey career. The two losses were bad enough. Then he also separated his shoulder in the loss to Delano.

“I was not happy,” said Posner, who is 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds. “It was a tough couple weeks.”

Posner injured the shoulder again in the next few weeks, meaning he missed out on some United States Hockey League camps he wanted to attend.

He also was cut from a couple of teams in the North American Hockey League — the league in which the Brown Bears play.

So it was quite the turnaround when Posner, along with Bears defenseman Cam McDonald, was named to the NAHL Selects (White) roster, designating him as one of the top young talents in the league. Markuss Komuls and David Kaplan of the Bears also will play on the Midwest Division team at the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament on Feb. 27 and 28 in Plymouth, Michigan.

“He’s a kid that went through a lot last summer,” Brown Bears coach Josh Petrich said of Posner. “He was undrafted, untendered and down on his luck.”

Both Petrich and Brown Bears assistant Nick Sova had their eye on Posner. As an assistant with the AAA Iowa Wild Tier I 18U team, Petrich was tracking Posner in case he didn’t make the NAHL. Sova knew Posner from his work at the Minnesota Advancement Program, known as MAP.

Petrich invited Posner to the Bears main camp, and the forward impressed. But Petrich said he still wanted to see a 200-foot game out of Posner at training camp.

“He came into training camp and had an ambition about him that wasn’t going to be denied,” Petrich said. “He was going to be a player in this league and a good player in this league.

“Now we’re hearing from NHL teams about him because he’s a 6-3 kid who can really skate and has good hands.”

Posner, son of Mark and Melinda Posner of Mahtomedi, started skating when he was 4 and got tough competition early because he always played up with his brother Jacob, now 20. Posner’s other brother is Josh, 15. Luke’s career took a detour in the second grade when his family moved to North Carolina for six years, but Posner said he stayed on course because the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes offered a level of competition he would have seen in Minnesota.

Posner, the billet son of Melissa and Jamie Hyslope of Soldotna, is fourth on the team among active skaters with 24 points on five goals and 19 assists in 43 games.

“In high school, I averaged two points a game,” Posner said. “This is something that doesn’t feel right to me.

“I just have to keep getting opportunities and keep shooting. It’s got to go in sometime.”

Petrich said Posner could break out at any time.

“He hasn’t scored a goal since October,” Petrich said. “Since Christmas, he’s had the most chances on the team. He’s been a bit snakebitten.”

Petrich still strongly believes in Posner. The coach said the forward will get stronger, a better shot and can vastly improve on his skating technique.

“He could be a much smoother, powerful skater,” Petrich said. “That’d make him ungodly fast. He’s already one of the fastest in the division.”

Posner also has a mind that makes him attractive to colleges. He has a grade-point average of 3.9 and a composite of 32 on the ACT.

Petrich said those grades make all the difference because schools can save scholarship money by giving academic money. Those grades also give him the possibility of an Ivy League education.

“I want to play Division I and then see if I can play pro,” Posner said. “If not, I’ll get a good degree and get a good job.”

More in Sports

Soldotna junior Brayden Taylor rushes the ball down the field during the Division II state football championship game against Lathrop at Service High School in Anchorage on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Lathrop snaps SoHi’s run of state titles

The Soldotna Stars football team fell to Fairbanks’ Lathrop High School in… Continue reading

Soldotna’s Gehret Medcoff runs for a touchdown against Wasilla on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Stars dominate major NLC football awards

Soldotna, which went undefeated in the Northern Lights Conference this season, won… Continue reading

SoHi wrestlers take 4th at Houston Altercation

The Soldotna wrestling team finished fourth at the season-opening Houston Altercation Tournament… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Emma Beck attacks against Nikiski's Rylee Ellis on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Volleyball roundup: Kenai tops Nikiski; Wasilla sweeps SoHi

The senior civics project of Valerie Villegas was a smashing success Friday… Continue reading

Morgan Aldridge leads riders down a hill at the start of Week 3 of the Soldotna Cycle Series on Thursday, July 18, 2019, at Tsalteshi Trails. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Chainwreck Cyclocross Series holds final race of season

The Chainwreck Cyclocross Series wrapped up with the fifth race Thursday at… Continue reading

Nikiski's Rylee Ellis attacks against Soldotna's Ashlee Anderson on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Volleyball roundup: SoHi, Kenai pull out wins

Staff report Host Soldotna celebrated its senior night with a 3-1 nonconference… Continue reading

Brock Wilson and Brayden Taylor lead Soldotna onto Justin Maile Field for a Division II semifinal against North Pole on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi football to play for 9th straight state title

Eight straight state titles, and 12 since 2006. An 18-game postseason winning… Continue reading

MJ Hendren pictured kayaking at Hidden Lake next to a large rock exposure. (Photo provided)
Refuge Notebook: Geology of the Kenai … it rocks!

One thing that never ceases to amaze me about living in Alaska… Continue reading

The pedicure in question has seen many miles of hiking and walking since it was first painted on five months ago. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)
Tangled Up in Blue: A perfect pedicure

There is just the smallest sliver of light pink nail polish left… Continue reading

Most Read