NHL dream one step closer to reality

Brock Faber of Maple Grove was selected in the second round of the NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, Oct. 7. Faber is preparing for his freshman year with the University of Minnesota. (Graphic courtesy of University of Minnesota Athletics Department)

Brock Faber has never been to California. Though, if all goes according to plan with his hockey career, he’ll soon get that chance.

Faber, who grew up in Maple Grove and is an incoming freshman for the University of Minnesota’s storied hockey program, was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the second round of the NHL Entry Draft on Oct. 7. The defenseman was the first Minnesotan selected in this year’s entry draft. He is the eighth Gophers’ prospect to be drafted by Los Angeles.

“Getting drafted is a huge accomplishment and something I’ve dreamed of happening for a long time,” Faber said. “I think this is really just the start though. There are a lot of things that I really want to accomplish still, and being at the University of Minnesota, a national championship is one of them. Definitely that’s my next goal, that’s what I want to achieve, and I think we have a great group here to do it.”

Tom Adolph coached Faber as a Bantam (which is the youth program that precedes high school). He is confident his ability and leadership will lead to big things on the ice.

“Brock is a smooth-skating defenseman who takes great pride in shutting down the top forwards,” Adolph said. “He’s got great vision and hockey IQ. “He is an excellent teammate with a tremendous work ethic and attitude which will lead to good things with the Gophers before a long and successful career in the NHL. I can’t say enough good things about him as a player and a person.”

POSITION SWITCH HELPED

Faber moved from forward to defense during his youth hockey days in Maple Grove, where he caught the attention of Minnesota head coach Bob Motzko. Like many top prospects, Faber passed on playing high school hockey and spent the last two years at the USA Hockey National Team Development program in Plymouth, Michigan.

The focus on hockey is arguably more intense with USA Hockey compared to high school, but Faber said he has no regrets with the decision.

“It was a crazy two years (in Michigan), but it was also the best two years of my life,” Faber said.

That said, the process took a bit longer and had some added stress due to COVID-19. In a normal year, the NHL Entry Draft is an in-person, made-for-television event.

The 2020 edition was scheduled for June in hockey-crazy Montreal, but was delayed until after the recently concluded Stanley Cup playoffs.

Faber was in the training room on the University of Minnesota campus with his teammates when the news that he had been drafted by a franchise that won a Stanley Cup in 2014 and had a guy named Wayne Gretzky wear No. 99 in black and silver from 1998-2006.

“It was a super-cool moment when I found out,” Faber said. “There was a lot of clapping and yelling and screaming, and we were even socially distant.”

Faber is the highest-drafted University of Minnesota prospect selected by the Kings. He is the son of Jay and Karri Faber.

The Golden Gophers are coming off a 16-14-7 season that saw them playing their best hockey at the end of the 2020-21 campaign. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic led to the NCAA abruptly canceling all winter and spring sports. The 2021-22 schedule has yet to be finalized, but as of press time, college hockey is expected to begin in late-November or early-December.

“This has definitely been a long time coming” said Faber, who is listed at 6-foot, 195 pounds. “It was a crazy road getting to this point, but I can’t describe how grateful I am.”

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