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

The Kenai River Brown Bears celebrate a goal during a game against Fairbanks at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River Brown Bears snap losing skid with win over Fairbanks

It was the team’s first win since Dec. 2

Soldotna’s Kaytlin McAnelly, backed by teammate Izzy Cruz, moves with the ball against defensive play by Houston’s Andi Robinson during a basketball game at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska, on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Friday hoops: Soldotna splits with Houston on senior night

Nikiski girls and boys also took on Grace Christian

The Kenai River Brown Bears celebrate a goal by Dylan Contreras, center, during a hockey game at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears topped by Ice Dogs

The two teams play again Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Kenai’s Reid Titus collects high fives from the bleachers after making an unlikely shot during a basketball game at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Tuesday hoops: Kenai sweeps Nikiski

The Kenai girls and boys teams both came out on top

Martin Flores skis into the finish to win the 40-kilometer Double Tour while carrying an Alaska flag during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Skiers, bikers turn out for Seventh Annual Tour of Tsalteshi

Racers came from across the Kenai Peninsula and beyond and competed in a variety of lengths and modes of travel

ski tease
Soldotna girls, Kenai boys win borough ski meet

The event took place Saturday at Lookout Mountain Recreation Area

hoops tease
Monday hoops: CIA sweeps Nanwalek

The host Ninilchik boys and girls swept Effie Kokrine

Ninilchik’s Riley Tucker moves down the court during a basketball game at Ninilchik School in Ninilchik, Alaska, on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024. Tucker was named tournament MVP and three-point champion at the Ninilchik Invitational Tournament. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Nikiski girls, Ninilchik boys win Ninilchik Invitational Tournament

Both teams took wins over Unalaska in title matches on Saturday

Most Read