Lakeville North junior goaltender plays an aggressive style that includes the occasional poke check. Photo by Adam Crane
Lakeville North goaltender Charlie Lindgren led the Panthers to the state Class 2A tournament last season as a sophomore. Photo by Adam Crane
It’s safe to say Charlie Lindgren is having a great 12 months.
Last February, third-seeded Lakeville North worked its way through the Section 1AA bracket and upset top-seeded intracity rival Lakeville South for a trip to the state Class 2A tournament.
Even sweeter, Lindgren made 26 saves en route to a 5-0 shutout of the Cougars.
The Panthers would lose their quarterfinal game to the eventual state runner-up Minnetonka, but Lindgren’s success would stretch into July.
Lindgren was the only Minnesotan goaltender in his age group to be selected for the 2010 USA Hockey National Development Camp in Rochester, N.Y.
Lindgren's hot streak continued into the fall. He played in 15 games for Team Southeast in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League, posting an 8-3-2 record with a .904 save percentage.
He was chosen to play for Team Minnesota White during the Bauer National Invitational Tournament. Lindgren one-upped his Elite League performance by shutting down his competition with a 3-0-0 record and a .939 save percentage. With Lindgren in goal, Minnesota White won the tournament.
Currently, the junior goaltender serves as a captain for the Panthers. Through 13 games, Lindgren has posted a 6-6-1 record with a .906 save percentage.
In six of those 13 games, Lindgren has faced 35 or more shots on goal. He has recorded a total of 279 saves on the 304 shots during those six games for a .917 save percentage.
The Hockey Hub recently caught up with Lindgren and asked him about his non-stop schedule, what it is like to face some of the nation's best high school players and why he decided to become a goaltender.
Through Jan. 19, Charlie Lindgren had a .906 save percentage and 3.72 goals against average. Photo by Adam Crane
Question: Your schedule matches you up against a lot of talented skaters you played with during the Elite League. Is it fun trying to shut down your former Elite League teammates?
Answer: For sure. Those kids you try to shut down because you play with them all fall. So it’s kids you know and you don’t want them to score on you.
Q: Did you try to figure out their tendencies when you were teammates?
A: I think so. Like (Eagan’s Michael) Zajac, I just know he’s got a bomb of a shot. (Burnsville’s Mike) Dockry I know he’s speedy. So yeah, I kind of got my own scouting report for them.
Q: Last year, Lakeville North was the third seed in Section 1AA but you take the Panthers to the State Tournament. You were the only native-Minnesotan goalie in your age group during the 2010 USA Hockey Player Development Camp in Rochester, N.Y. this past summer. Back home, you make the Elite League last fall and have a great season with Team Southeast. Then, you make Team Minnesota White during the Bauer National Invitational Tournament and were the winning goaltender during your team's championship victory. What has this past year been like?
A: It was living the dream. You’re playing hockey and you’re playing successful. So that 2010 year, that’s all I could have asked for. It was sweet.
Q: How do you explain all your success?
A: I don’t really know. I just ... I don’t know. Hopefully I keep it going though.
Q: Which of those accomplishments stand out the most?
A: That’s a tough one. You know what? I don’t know if I could really choose one over the other. It was so sweet. You’re playing with great players all over from Rochester to the Elite League so they’re both really fun.
Q: Six of your 13 games you’ve faced 35-plus shots. What are those games like?
A: They can be tiring but going into it you gotta expect to see a lot of shots and do what you can to help the team. Going into this year I knew I was going to see a lot of shots and that’s a good thing I think because you’re seeing a whole bunch of different ones. I think it’s a good thing to have.
Q: What goes through your mind when you look up and see the ‘Shots on Goal’ number on the scoreboard?
A: I don’t know. Just like 'Geez, I can’t believe they’re getting that much shots,’ but it’s pretty neat though. I like seeing all those shots.
Q: Tell me about the game against Eagan (on Saturday, Dec. 18) when you “upset” the Wildcats making 54 saves -- all on your birthday.
A: I think that was probably one of my funnest games I’ve ever played in. Playing against (Michael) Zajac who I’ve played with since I was probably 10-years-old, and that’s the best birthday present I could have asked for. That was sweet. Especially since it was overtime too.
Q: Do you have a favorite save you’ve ever made?
A: Any one where I stack the pads, I love stacking the pads, that’s always fun. I dunno, saves where you get the glove out there when they’re seeing a bunch of net and just snag it real fast, I like those too.
Q: Who is the best skater/shooter you have made a save on?
A: I don’t really know actually. I’ve seen a lot of good shooters so I don’t know if there’s one shooter that was my best stop on. I’d probably have to think about that one.
Q: What NHL goalie or goalies do you pattern your style after?
A: I’d like to say Martin Brodeur because he likes to play that different kind of style so maybe Martin Brodeur. Maybe Ron Hextall a little bit, playing the puck, I like to play the puck a lot. So those two are probably the most.
Q: Do you play any outdoor hockey?
A: Oh yeah, I play a lot of outdoor hockey with my buddies on this team (Lakeville North). We have a rink not too far so we go there a lot whenever we can.
Q: Are you in net for those games?
A: No I’m a skater. I dangle those guys.
Q: Why did you become a goaltender?
A: My dad was a goalie, he played at Michigan. So when I was I think 9 or 10 he kind of influenced me and I’ve stuck with it ever since. Actually my first game I let up 13 goals and I remember my mom saying ‘There’s no way he’s going to be a goalie,’ but I stuck with it and I love it.
Q: Do you play any other sports?
A: Lacrosse in the spring, so yeah I play that and I’m a middie not a goalie. So I do a lot of running around.
Q: Why are you not a goalie in lacrosse?
A: Probably because I’m afraid of the ball. I think that would hurt a lot. You’re not all covered up. So I’m a middie, I do the shooting.
Lakeville North's Charlie Lindgren led Minnesota White to the championship of the Bauer National Invitational Tournament last fall. Photo by Helen Nelson
Q: Are any colleges talking to you right now?
A: Yeah, I’ve talked to a few. I don’t know where I want to go yet though. Hopefully in the WCHA – is what I’m hoping for. We’ll see what happens.
Q: Any specific colleges?
A: Maybe around here. I’d love to stay around here. Obviously the Gophers – that would be really fun. But colleges in Minnesota – any WCHA school I guess.
Q: Have you visited any colleges?
A: I haven’t visited any, nope not yet. Hopefully this summer I’ll start doing some visiting.
Q: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
A: You know what, on Christmas Eve I was driving and I got in a car accident with my family. I think that’s probably the craziest thing I’ve ever gone through. The car actually flipped. I was driving – I had a permit still at the time so that was probably the scariest and craziest thing that’s ever happened to me. Everyone was OK. We were all wearing our seatbelts and that probably saved our lives.
Q: What advice would you give to young goaltenders who want to become elite-level players?
A: Just keep on working every day. Don’t take your foot off the pedal just keep on going cause there’s always another goalie working harder.
Q: Working on what specifically?
A: Challenging and being athletic. I guess not just being one type of style. Just being able to have a big toolbox I think would be big.
Q: As a captain, how do you try to lead the team?
A: I try to do it both on and off the ice. This is actually my fourth year in the organization, I’ve been in here since I was an eighth grader. So I kind of know the ropes and I try to help everyone out. Even talk to them when they’re not even asking me just tell them the ropes.
Q: What are three words your teammates would probably use to describe you?
A: I think off the ice: fun to be around, probably, crazy at times and probably a good leader. I think I’m a good leader. On the ice I think probably real aggressive, liking to play the puck and I don’t know. I’d have to think about that other one.
Q: What is your favorite team to play and why?
A: Lakeville South. We actually play them on Thursday (Jan. 13). I can’t play which kind of sucks (Lindgren sat out due to a neck and back injury he sustained against Burnsville on Saturday, Jan. 8). For sure Lakeville South just cause they’re in our section, everyone is there – they pack the stands. So for sure Lakeville South.
Q: Favorite out-of-conference team to play?
A: We go up north to play Virginia and Grand Rapids. I think playing Grand Rapids this year was really fun. They always sell out their arena, they even have reserved seats, so it gets crazy up there and it was really sweet to play up there.
Charlie Lindgren played for Team Southeast in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League last fall. Photo by Helen Nelson
School: Lakeville North
Credentials: Lindgren played on Team Southeast in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League last fall. His impressive season earned him a spot on Minnesota White during the Bauer National Invitational Tournament. Lindgren was a big factor as Minnesota White won the tournament. He was also the only Minnesota goaltender in his age group during the 2010 USA Hockey Player Development Camp in Rochester, N.Y.
College committment: None. Lindgren has reportedly talked with Colorado College and St. Cloud State University. He has also been drafted by the Chicago Steel of the USHL.
Coke or Pepsi: Coke
Gatorade of Powerade: Gatorade
Cats or dogs: Dogs
Hunting or fishing: Fishing
Martin Brodeur or Ryan Miller: Martin Brodeur
Favorite NHL goaltender: Tuukka Rask from Boston
Favorite NHL team: Boston Bruins
Favorite subject in school: I like math but I’m not really good at it. So probably history.
Last book you read: It’s been a while. Maybe Hall of Fame goalies. It was when I was younger.
Favorite restaurant: Olive Garden
Favorite home-cooked meal: Barbequed meatballs
Best meal you make: Probably a sandwich. I’m not a real big cook.
Favorite pre-game meal: I like to have Subway. Italian BMT – just meat and cheese.
Dream car: Saleen S7
Car you drive now: Ford Explorer
TV Show you can’t miss: Jersey Shore
Movie you have watched 100 times: Miracle
Summer job: Goalie coaching
Dream job: Hopefully something in hockey. I want to play hockey.
Best player you’ve ever been on the ice with: That’s a tough one. Brady Skjei – Team USA U-17 team.
Favorite website: NHL.com
Band or song you’ve been listening to the most lately: Probably Nickelback
Favorite arena (besides Ames and the X): I think Grand Rapids. I think it was so cool up there.