Lourdes' Kielty has developed into a leader, Post Bulletin All-Area Player of the Year
Rochester Lourdes senior defenseman Charlie Kielty was a leader on and off the ice for the Eagles. He led the team in scoring and had the ability to be a game-changer. He also matured into an emotional leader over his three years with the team. For all those reasons, he's the 2021-22 Post Bulletin All-Area boys hockey Player of the Year.
Charlie Kielty had a “light bulb” moment prior to his junior season.
The standout defenseman for the Rochester Lourdes boys hockey team knew his team was better than what it had shown during his sophomore season, and he knew he could be a big part of the program’s turnaround.
And more so than developing on the ice, Kielty had the maturity to realize he needed to develop off the ice, too.
“I knew I had to change something,” Kielty said. “When I was a sophomore, I’d get mad, slam sticks … I realized if I wanted to play junior (hockey), no coach will (put up with) that and I knew if I was down, the team will be, too. I have to keep a positive mentality on the ice.”
The desire to be a team leader — not just on the stat sheet — really kicked in when Kielty was named a captain prior to his junior season, in 2020-21. He helped the Eagles go from winless his sophomore season to 11-6-1 last season. Then he was named a captain again for his senior season.
“I liked it a lot,” he said of being a leader. “It gave me more confidence in things I didn’t see in myself. When the team voted me captain, I realized I was a leader and had to prove it. I think I matured a lot from my junior to senior year.”
For his maturity on and off the ice, and for leading the Eagles in points (25 goals, 19 assists) as a blue-liner, Kielty is the 2021-22 Post Bulletin All-Area Boys Hockey Player of the Year.
“Something flipped going into his junior season where he realized he wanted to be a very good player,” Lourdes head coach Jeff True said. “The way he ate, trained, approached practice every day, and his leadership skills started to show.
“He took another step and took his leadership very seriously. Confidence came along with that.”
Kielty called his senior season “one of the most fun I’ve ever had, at any level,” as the Eagles went 19-8-0 and earned the No. 2 seed in the Section 1A playoffs. He was dynamic in his role, too, using his speed, vision and heavy shot to produce 25 goals and 44 points.
“He’s deceptively fast for a big player,” True said. “He’s tall, getting bigger and better, and he’s so quick and fast for a big individual. It’s deceptive for the other team to guess and approximate where he might be on the ice.
“He has an incredibly long reach, good body positioning and can put the puck on his backhand far outside of a (defender’s) reach. He keeps his feet moving and uses his quickness to get around the ‘D’ and keep the goalie off balance.”
Kielty was at his best when it mattered most, too, recording 18 points in the final eight games of the regular season. He scored two more goals in a Section 1A quarterfinal playoff win against Winona, and though he didn’t record a point in the Eagles’ season-ending loss to Albert Lea in the section semifinals, there was a different feel every time he had the puck on his stick.
“His work ethic and compete level off the ice, too, is great,” True said. “Getting in the gym, going to ETS (Performance Center) and the different training he’s done that’s so important for young athletes to help reach their potential.
“Confidence came with that. When he has the puck on his stick, he is always a threat to create an opportunity.”
If it felt like Kielty rarely left the ice this season, that’s because it’s true. The Eagles used a four-defensemen rotation nearly the entire season. And with Kielty playing on the team’s first power-play unit and first penalty kill, he was on the ice for well more than half of the 51 minutes each night.
“The most intriguing thing is, when he settles into a team where he’s not required to play every single shift, on the power play and on the penalty kill, and he can be in a role where he can catch a break and rest,” True said, “he’ll be that much more dynamic.
“He played so many minutes for us and never took a shift off. He’ll have plenty of gas in the tank (to play juniors) and he has room to grow, to put on size and muscle.”
Kielty plans to play junior hockey next season, whether that be in the NA3HL or the NAHL, wherever he has the best opportunity to play. And though he’ll be new to whatever team he ends up with, he’ll carry over the lessons he learned at Lourdes, specifically the things he knows a good leader should do.
“Just keep it positive,” Kielty said, “be one as a team and not a group of individuals. That’s what we had so much success this year. There wasn’t one individual who thought they were better than everyone. We were a team.”
Boys Hockey Players of the Year
Past Post Bulletin All-Area boys hockey Players of the Year:
2022 — Charlie Kielty, Rochester Lourdes
2021 — Brody Lamb, Dodge County
2020 — Joey Malugani, Rochester Century
2019 — Dustin Sorensen, Rochester Lourdes
2018 — Jackson Killinger, Rochester Century
2017 — Will Zmolek, Rochester Century
2016 — Brady Dahl, Rochester John Marshall
2015 — Riese Zmolek, Rochester Century
2014 — Riese Zmolek, Rochester Century
2013 — Alex Funk and Jason Samuelson, Rochester Lourdes
2012 — Alex Funk, Rochester Lourdes
2011 — Rory Vesel, Rochester Lourdes