By Frank Rajkowski, SJU Writer / Video Producer
COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. – There isn’t a lot of back-and-forth jokes – or noise of any kind really – in the early morning every summer when Michel Michel and Henri enebak fish on Gull Lake near Brainerd, Minn.
“It’s pretty calm on this boat,” said Michel. “We both take fishing very seriously. “
This intensity of focus extends to the hockey rink where Michel, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound sophomore, and Enebak, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior, were paired as forwards on a line for the University of Saint John’s. hockey team this season.
Michael leads the Johnnies (6-4-1, 4-2-0 MIAC) with six goals and four assists, while Enebak added four assists.
“We’ve known each other for a long time, but this is really the first time we’ve paired up on the same line and it’s been a lot of fun,” said Enebak, whose team faces Concordia (Wis.) In a non-conference clash. 7 p.m. Friday at the Ozaukee Ice Center in Mequon, Wis.
“We already had pretty good chemistry with each other. And you can see it when we’re on the ice together.
The link between the two goes back a long way. Michel, who grew up in Waconia, and Enebak, who grew up in Lakeville, have played together and against each other in youth hockey.
They really got to know each other for the first time when they met at the same resort on a high school spring break trip to Mexico. The bond then grew stronger when Enebak’s family bought a cabin on Gull Lake where Michel’s family already had one.
“No one on the lake we knew loved fishing like we did,” said Michel, a 2017 graduate of Holy Family High School in Victoria, Minnesota. “We’re both huge anglers, so we started dating a lot. Henry I would pick myself up from my dock in the morning or pick him up from his house, and we would go out and spend the day on the boat. Lake.
The two also followed similar paths at SJU, spending time at the juniors before stopping at Division I level.
Enebak, a 2017 graduate of Lakeville (Minn.) North High School, played in neighboring St. Cloud state before transferring to Collegeville a year ago. He finished the COVID-abbreviated 2020-21 season with three goals and two assists in the 10 games the Johnnies were able to play.
He had a family connection to SJU through his grandfather Larry Anderson, former head football coach at Winsted-Holy Trinity High School. One of Anderson’s players was the current SJU head coach Gary Fasching ’81.
“My grandfather (who is now 80 and until recently was a walleye fishing guide on Leech Lake) has been a long-time Saint John football fan because of Gary,” Enebak said. “He always came here for the games. When I was thinking about a transfer Gary actually texted me explaining his relationship with him and telling me about what Saint John’s was like.
Michel, meanwhile, went to play at Alabama-Huntsville before that program was cut short earlier this year due to the inability to find a new conference house after the WCHA disbanded.
He said Enebak and other players he knew on the Johnnies roster then contacted him and urged him to consider SJU.
“Knowing that Henry was here was a big factor in my decision,” said Michel. “He had followed the same path from DI to DIII and had been successful. So he spoke to me a lot and helped me understand the situation I would find myself in.”
Now the two are at SJU, hoping to help the Johnnies win an MIAC title and a deep run in the NCAA Division III playoffs.
“They give us both a lot,” SJU head coach Doug schueller noted. “(Nick) gives us a lot of speed. And he’s put the puck in the net for us so far, which has been huge.
“Henry is perhaps the toughest hockey player I have ever seen. He’s a hard worker and just a selfless leader. I think he’s played just about every game for us injured. goes out there and puts his body on the line, blocking a lot of shots. It’s not so much about the scoresheet with him but all the little things he does. “
With hockey in the spotlight right now, when summer returns, it will be time to return to the lake where the duo will face off again to see who is the best angler.
“I think it’s a horse each,” Michel said with a smile when the question of who owns the bragging rights in their boat is raised. “We both have our good days and bad.”
“I will say he’s the best angler, but I’m the best outdoorsman overall,” Enebak added with a chuckle. “He knows I have him as a hunter for sure.”