Owen Lindmark didn’t grow up with hockey; it was a passion he discovered at 7 years old watching Chicago Blackhawks games on TV. The next year the family moved from Oklahoma to St. Louis (his father was in the Air Force so moving became the norm) and he began skating. After his second full season playing hockey, he tried out for the St. Louis Jr. Blues Squirt Minor team, a team that had two former NHL stars coaching in Scott Mellanby and Al McInnis, and made it “I developed a lot that year playing for those coaches,” explained Owen Lindmark.
The next year he was asked to play for the Chicago Mission.
“The Mission is a great organization, as they have amazing coaches who most played college or pro, and they really allow you to play your own game and make it their priority to make each and every player better. The Mission also has a great off-ice room and office coaches. Twice a week, we have off-ice before or after practice, and we work on agility, speed, and strength.”
With the Mission, Lindmark had the opportunity to play with one of our highest ranked US players in Luke Toporowski, the two played side by side for the past four seasons.
“Our games really complement each other, as we know exactly where the other one is going to be be. Not only do we have great chemistry on the ice, but off the ice we are great friends. After my stint in St. Louis, my family actually moved to Iowa instead of Chicago, even though I was playing for the Mission. That’s where Luke ended up living as well; so for three years we would drive 4.5 hours round trip to practice 3 times a week.”
This past season playing Bantam Major for the Mission, one of the top ranked teams in the country, he saw interest from several top college programs. The first of those schools was Wisconsin.
“My recruiting process started about a year ago, when I visited Wisconsin for the first time. At the time, Coach Eaves was the head coach, and I instantly fell in love with the school. It was pretty exciting when teams started to show interest in me, but at the same time, I couldn’t get caught up in the moment, and had to keep working my tail off.”
Wisconsin made a coaching change at the end of the season replacing Mike Eaves with Tony Granato. While that was going on other schools like Minnesota, Harvard, Boston College, Ohio Stare, Cornell, and Minnesota Duluth had expressed interest. He had plans to visit them all this summer and spring, but after a strong showing at the Central Districts Development Camp he was invited by the new staff to return to Wisconsin for another visit.
“After the camp, they wanted me to visit immediately, and so my family went up to Wisconsin and visited for the day. I gave it some time and went to the National Development Camp in Buffalo, NY, but decided I wanted to be a Badger right after camp. I really fell in love with the school after a couple visits. They have great coaches, great facilities, and are going to be very good for a long time.”
Although there are a lot of critics of early commitments, Lindmark went right back to work after his commitment.
“I got home from national camp a week ago and now I am skating with my coach, Gino Cavallini, twice a week at Seven Bridges. I am also working out off the ice by lifting, shooting/stick handling, and running hills.”
He doesn’t feel like his dream is complete, in fact, his college commitment is just the start.
“I’m always trying to get better, always being pushed by my parents and coaches to become the best player I can. Now that I’ve checked off my college box, my goal for the upcoming year is to step into U16 and be a force right away. I want to continue to develop and make the US National Development Team the following year and then work towards getting drafted and eventually playing in the National Hockey League.”
The Badgers have had a slew of commitments over the past two weeks so we asked Lindmark to describe his game to give the Wisconsin fans an idea of the player they will see in Madison. Lindmark describes himself as a two-way forward with the ability to score goals and contribute defensively with physical play, blocked shots and a willingness to “go in the dirty areas to get the puck”.
The young Chicago Mission star is the second forward to commit to the class of 2020 along with National Development Camp standout Alex Turcotte who was interviewed last week.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images