ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Former Rochester Grizzlies goalie turning up the heat in Alaska

Shane Soderwall backstopped the Rochester Grizzlies to the NA3HL national championship game in 2021. He was on the inaugural Anchorage Wolverines team a year ago that advanced to the NAHL national championship game in their first season as a franchise. This season, Soderwall hopes to be the go-to guy in goal for the Wolverines, who have their sights set on a return trip to the title game.

Sodes9.jpg
Shane Soderwall sets up to stop a shot during the Anchorage Wolverines tryout camp at the Rochester Recreation Center on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. Soderwall, who played for the Rochester Grizzlies for two seasons, is expected to be the No. 1 goalie this season for the Wolverines, who were the NAHL runners-up last season.
Jason Feldman / Post Bulletin
We are part of The Trust Project.

ROCHESTER — Mike Aikens has no doubt about the role he intends Shane Soderwall to play in the 2022-23 season.

It’s been on Aikens’ mind for more than a year.

“We’re hoping Shane is going to step forward and be our No. 1 guy,” Aikens said.

The coach (Aikens) and player (Soderwall) are entering Year 4 of their junior hockey relationship. Soderwall played two seasons for the Rochester Grizzlies (2019-21), when Aikens — a Rochester John Marshall graduate — was an assistant coach.

With the Grizzlies, Soderwall went from backing up the North American 3 Hockey League Goalie of the Year (Mathias Backstrom) in 2019-20, to becoming the NA3HL Goalie of the Year in 2020-21, when he backstopped Rochester to the national championship game.

ADVERTISEMENT

That effort, and his relationship with Aikens, led to Soderwall earning a job with the Anchorage Wolverines a year ago, their first as a North American Hockey League franchise. Aikens knew he wanted to bring Soderwall along to Alaska from the moment he was named the Wolverines’ first-ever head coach.

“I just want to keep being a good teammate, be a role model for the younger guys coming in this year,” Soderwall said of his second season with the Wolverines. “Of course, that end goal is to play Division I hockey, but I just am excited to keep going with my journey and see where things end up.

“I have a good feeling that this year is going to help me move on.”

Soderwall, a native of Algonquin, Ill., played in 26 games last year, splitting time with veteran Raythan Robbins before ceding the starting job to Robbins late in the regular season and throughout the postseason. The Wolverines advanced all the way to the NAHL championship game, the Robertson Cup, in their first year as a franchise, falling 3-0 to the New Jersey Titans in the final.

Aikens, Soderwall and nearly 80 other players were in Rochester over the weekend, when the Wolverines held their main tryout camp for the 2022-23 season at the Rochester Recreation Center.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” said Soderwall, who went 12-13-1 with a 3.04 goals-against average an an .891 save percentage in his first season in Anchorage. “I loved playing here and it’s good to be back, for sure.”
With Robbins expected to spend the upcoming season with Muskegon (Mich.) in the USHL, Soderwall is in line to be the go-to guy in goal for Anchorage, just as he was during his second season with the Grizzlies, when he mentored then-NA3HL rookie Zach Wiese of Owatonna. Wiese went on to become the league Goalie of the Year last season and has committed to play for the University of Minnesota.

“Raythan and Shane split almost all of our games last year right up until the end of the regular season,” Aikens said. “When Ray took over he was really, really good. What was great about it was, Shane was his biggest cheerleader. I saw some times when won games where Shane was the first guy off the bench to congratulate Ray.

“Shane is a great team guy. … We’re hoping he steps forward this year. I know he’s worked extremely hard this summer and we’ll hoping he’ll have a lot of success.”

ADVERTISEMENT

SODERWALL.MUG.jpg
Shane Soderwall
Skip Hickey

Soderwall was an astounding 30-3-1 with a 1.52 GAA and a .938 save percentage during his two seasons in Rochester.

The Grizzlies and Wolverines coaching staffs have lauded the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder’s growth on and off the ice over the past couple of seasons, raving about his maturation as a person and a player. That showed in the way he handled backing up Robbins late last season and throughout the team’s playoff run.

“I had no problem being that guy,” said Soderwall, who went 5-2-0 in his last seven starts last season, posting two shutouts, a 1.95 GAA and a .935 save percentage. “Ray is a great guy; I love him. He’s a competitor and I feel like he earned it. Just learning from his game and his routine, I feel like I can carry that over into my game this season.

“It was so much fun, just going for that ride last year.”

Sodes11.jpg
Former Rochester Grizzlies goalie Shane Soderwall follows the puck during a scrimmage at the Anchorage Wolverines tryout camp on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, at the Rochester Recreation Center.
Jason Feldman / Post Bulletin

Jason Feldman is the sports editor of the Post Bulletin. In addition to managing the four-person sports staff at the PB, Jason covers high school football, golf and high school and junior hockey. Readers can reach Jason at 507-281-7430 or jfeldman@postbulletin.com.
What To Read Next
After spending the last 10 seasons as a coach with the Arizona Cardinals, Rushford's Steve Heiden has been named the tight ends coach of the Detroit Lions.
Ben Oakland scored the game-winning goal for the Rochester Grizzlies on a night when they raised thousands of dollars for cancer research. It was a good feeling for the Grizzlies' veteran and the team.
The Austin Bruins couldn't generate much offense on Paint the Rink Pink Night, but they generated thousands of dollars to donate to the Hormel Institute to be used for cancer research.
The Rochester Grizzlies will hold their annual Pink Night, to raise funds for cancer research at Mayo Clinic, on Saturday.