Virginia, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- It's fun coming back a champ.
Virginia native and member of the UMD Bulldogs national championship men's hockey team, Scott Kishel, was back in his hometown this week to help coach a youth hockey camp.
"It's really fun to come back and see what the new generation is like and just pass down what we learned when we were growing up here," Kishel said. "We want to expand the knowledge to them, watch them become better players over the years, and eventually play high school hockey. That's what every kid up here dreams of doing."
Kishel's thoughts were echoed by fellow former Bluedevil, Matt Niskanen, who also played his college hockey as a Bulldog.
"It really is a good opportunity for me to give back to the youth program here in Virginia and be around the kids" Niskanen said. "I remember when I was that age, and I looked up to older players. They truly are your heroes."
With the camp behind them, the pair is now ready to focus on preparing for next winter - Kishel as a Bulldog, Niskanen as a member of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins.
"Obviously, we were the best in country last year," Kishel said, "so we're looking to get a little better and continue that. Keep digging and we're going after another national championship."
"I guess you could say I'm slowly turning into a veteran in the NHL," Niskanen said. "There's been some ups and downs in my career through the first four years, but I've had some really good moments, and I'm looking forward to continuing to be a regular NHL player."
As those two advance among hockey's elite, though, they say they'll never forget their home in Virginia.
"Everybody here talks hockey, still to this day, about me, Nisky, and Nico [Sachetti], and a lot of other good players to come through here," Kishel said. "They're excited about what's coming through here and interested in the future."
"It was a good place for me to develop as a player," Niskanen said, "and I was fortunate enough to have good parents to help me along the way. The community has been great as well."
Posted by Zach Schneider