skip navigation

Chisago Lakes coach has come long way

By Loren Nelson, Editor, 07/20/11, 4:49PM CDT


Josh Liebenow was playing professionally in Dutch League last season

Josh Liebenow

Josh Liebenow and Reed Larson were linemates for three seasons at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Each excelled in altogether different roles.

“I was his power forward and he was the All-American goal scorer,” said Larson, a Grand Rapids native who was hired as the head coach at Virginia-Mountain Iron/Buhl in June.

Liebenow and Larson helped UW-Superior win an NCAA Division III national title in 2002.

“He said, ‘Dump it my corner, and I’ll go get it,’ ” said Liebenow, a White Bear Lake native who was hired as the head coach Chisago Lakes this summer. “So that’s what we did.”

In hockey terms, Liebenow and Larson continued to take different paths after college.

While Larson got into coaching almost immediately after his career ended with the Yellowjackets, Liebenow played for five teams in five pro leagues for the last eight seasons. Last season Liebenow scored 22 goals and added 26 assists in 39 games for the Tilburg Trappers of the Dutch League.

“I finally decided to stay in Minnesota,” Liebenow, 30, said about his retirement from pro hockey. “I think my body told me the most. That, and seeing the younger kids on the team, 19 year olds, kind of made me feel like an old man.

“I just felt like it was time.”

The recently engaged Liebenow takes over a Wildcats team that went 21-6-0 last season, the best record in the program’s history. Top scorers Andrew Habel (team-best 72 points) and Cory Lushanko (team-best 31 goals) are among the 17 seniors from last season lost to graduation.

Chisago Lakes returns four players who skated on regular shift last season. Liebenow will have his challenges.

“I’ve worked many, many hockey camps coaching,” he said. “With every age of kid you can imagine.

“This has always been my dream to coach, since I was playing.”

Even back in Superior, Larson and Liebenow talked about someday becoming coaches. They lost touch after leaving Superior but have recently reconnected.

They have talked about Virginia and Chisago Lakes meeting in a scrimmage or game, but as of yet have been unable to make their schedules mesh.

“I never thought in a million years we would end up coaching against each other,” Larson said.

Recent Stories

Coaching Changes Entering 2011-12 Season

School 2010-11 Coach 2011-12 Coach Comment Job Listing/More Info
Blake John Hamrre Jon Sturgis Sturgis, a Blake graduate and the Bears' junior varsity coach for the past nine seasons, will serve as interim coach as Hamre takes a one-year sabbatical from his teaching and coaching duties. Hamre has been Blake's head coach for nine seasons. Position Filled
Buffalo Mike MacMIllan Jason Fairman Fairman played at Cornell and served as an assistant coach at Augsburg. MacMillan stepped down in September after spending 18 seasons as the Bison head coach and 30 seasons coaching high school hockey overall. Position Filled
Centennial Erik Aus Ritch Menne Menne has been a coach in the Centennial youth and high school systems for 17 seasons. He is a 1990 Centennial graduate who went on to play at Bethel College. Aus, who had been the Cougars' coach for the past 24 seasons, announced his resignation on April 6. He guided the Cougars to the Class 2A state championship in 2004. Centennial went 13-12-2 last season. Position Filled
Chisago Lakes Corey McKinnon Josh Liebenow Liebenow, of White Bear Lake, played for UW-Superior from 1999-2003 and was the top scorer on the Yellowjackets' NCAA Division III championship team in 2001-02. Liebenow has played pro hockey in a variety of leagues for the past eight seasons. McKinnon, 31, had been coaching the Wildcats for seven seasons. He led Chisago Lakes to the best record, 21-6-0, in program history last season. He stepped down citing family reasons and a desire to continue his education. Position Filled
Eveleth-Gilbert Todd Kreibich Jeff Torrel Torrel is an Eveleth native who played for the Golden Bears in high school and has been coaching in the Eveleth-Gilbert youth system for the past 10 years. Torrel played his college hockey at St. Scholastica. Kreibich's resignation was accepted at a March 8 school board meeting. Kreibich, a Crookston native and goaltender at Bemidji State for three seasons from 1990 through 1993, guided the Golden Bears to a 13-13-0 record in 2010-11. Position Filled
Henry Sibley Tony McGee Patrick Bogie McGee coached the Warriors for three seasons, compiling a 20-56-3 record. Henry Sibley went 7-19-1 last season, losing in the the first round of the Section 3AA playoffs to Eastview. Job Listing
Hopkins Justin DeGriselles Rolf Ulvin Ulvin, who played at Edina and UW-Stevens Point, was the Royals' junior varsity coach in 2010-11. DeGriselles, a former assistant at Hopkins, guided the Royals to an 11-15-0 record in his first season as head coach. He resigned after the season. Position Filled
International Falls Mike Bolstad Bruce Elson Elson, who previously served as head coach of the International Falls girls' program, is a physicial education teacher at International Falls High School. Bolstad, an International Falls native, coached the Broncos for one season. International Falls went 10-15-1 last season, losing to Duluth Marshall in the quarterfinals of the Section 7A playoffs. Position Filled
Irondale Tadd Toumie Adam Schmidt Schmidt is a Centennial High School graduate who played goaltender for the Cougars. He has been an assistant coach at Centennial since 2007. Toumie's contract was not renewed after the 2010-11 season, his first as the Knights' head coach. Irondale went 3-22-1 under Toumie, losing to North Metro in opening round of the Section 5AA playoffs. Position Filled
Kittson Central Scott Klein Robert Carr A Roseau native, Carr takes over for Klein, who resigned after spending 19 years coaching at various levels in the Kittson program. Position Filled
Lake of the Woods Mike Pepera Brett Johnson Johnson was a three-sport captain in hockey, football and baseball at Thief River Falls, where he graduated in 2000. He went on to play hockey at Concordia College in Moorhead. He has been a physical education teacher at St. Bernard's School in Thief River Falls. He also has been Thief River Falls' Little League director for the past four years. Pepera was the Bears' head coach for seven seasons in two stints, the most recent of which was a three-year run that ended in 2010-11 with a 17-7-3 record and Section 8AA semifinal final loss to eventual champion Thief River Falls. Pepera, who resigned after the season, also was Lake of the Woods' head coach for four seasons in the early 2000s. Position Filled
Lakeville North Randy Schmitz Trent Eigner Schmitz, who guided the Panthers to the state Class 2A tournament the past two seasons, was fired in August. Eigner was the co-head coach for the Rosemount girls program. Eigner played for Rosemount from 1984-88. He played four years at Miami of Ohio and professionally in the minor leagues for six years. Position Filled
Minnehaha Academy John Gould Pat Griswold Griswold grew up in Burnsville and played his high school hockey at Minnehaha Academy. He went on to play on an MIAC championship team at Augsburg College. Griswold spent several years coaching in the South St. Paul youth association and also served as an assistant coach for the men's hockey team at Hamline University. Gould, in his first year as the Redhawks coach, resigned late in the regular season. Minnehaha Academy finished with a 3-22-0 record. Position Filled
Mounds View Brad Schwartzbauer Rick Thomas Thomas has been assistant coach at Mounds View for the past three seasons. He also served as a varsity assisant coach in the St. Paul Saints program. Thomas previously was the head coach at the Bantam A level in the Mounds View youth hockey association. Schwartbauer, who played his high school hockey at White Bear Lake, coached the Mustangs for six seasons. Mounds View went 8-14-4 last season, including a 4-1 loss to White Bear Lake in the Section 4AA quarterfinals. Position Filled
North Branch Randy Gendreau Mike Deschneau Gendreau, in his second season as the Vikings' head coach, was fired in early February. Assistant coach Ralph Norrgard took over the head coaching duties for the rest of the season. North Branch went 7-19-0. Position Filled
North Metro Chic Pojar Mike Carhill Pojar stepped down in the spring after the Stars went 5-22-0, including a 10-0 loss to Maple Grove in the quarterfinals of the Section 5AA playoffs. Carhill served as an assistant coach last season. Position Filled
Owatonna Will Fish Josh Storm A Lakeville native who graduated from Bethel University, Storm spent the last six years as an assistant coach at Rosemount. Fish guided the Huskies for 11 seasons, compiling a 130-145-9 record. He was fired from his position in early July. Position Filled
Red Lake Falls Brad Kennett Trevor Page Page, formerly an assistant under Kennett, took over the head coaching position in May. Position Filled
River Lakes Jeff Melby John Pulsifer Melby guided the stars to an 11-41-2 record in two seasons. Position Filled
Rochester Century Bruce Frutiger Josh Klingfus A Rochester John Marshall graduate, Klingfus was an assistant coach at Century for eight seasons, working primarily with the Panthers' defensemen. Frutiger, who resigned in mid-May, guided the Panthers to three section championships in his 13 seasons as head coach. Century went 11-16-0 last season, losing to Lakeville North in the Section 1AA semifinals. Position Filled
Rochester John Marshall Scott Lecy Jay Ness Ness guided Rochester Lourdes to three straight state Class 1A tournament appearances before resigning in 2002. Lecy, who served as co-head coach for the Rockets with Jared Skovbroten in 2010-11, resigned after five seasons behind the bench. The Rockets went 15-11-0 and lost in the quarterfinals of the Section 1AA playoffs. Position Filled
Shakopee Jeff Vizenor Lee Engstrom Engstrom has served as an assistant coach under Vizenor. Engstrom also is an assistant boys tennis coach and owns a vinyl graphics business that specializes in race car/motorsports graphics. Vizenor, who resigned after the season to spend more time with his family, guided the Sabers for two seasons, compiling a 17-34-2 record. Shakopee posted a 7-18-1 record last season, losing to Burnsville in the Section 2AA quarterfinals. Position Filled
St. Louis Park Tim Donahue Shjon Podein Podein, who lives in St. Louis Park with his wife and two young children, played at Rochester John Marshall and Minnesota-Duluth before embarking on an 11-year NHL career. He has been heavily involved in the St. Louis Park youth hockey program for the past several years. Donahue retired after spending 14 years as the Orioles' head coach. A former player at St. Louis Park, he also served as an assistant coach before taking over the Orioles' head coaching duties. St. Louis Park finished with a 2-23-0 record. Position Filled
Virginia Keith Hendrickson Reed Larson Larson played in high school at Grand Rapids and in college at UW-Superior. He has been a high school coach in Willmar the past seven seasons, the first three as a head coach and the last four as an assistant. Hendrickson resigned after 25 seasons as the Blue Devils head coach. He guided Virginia to its first state tournament appearance in 2005 and subsequent appearances in 2009 and 2010. The Blue Devils went 20-8-0 last season. Position Filled
Wadena-Deer Creek Dan Savoie Chris Holman Holman is an Edina graduate who is the former Holy Family Catholic girls varsity hockey coach. Savoie announced his resignation after the Wolverines' Section 6A first-round loss to Detroit Lakes. Wadena-Deer Creek went 4-21-0 last season and has won a combined eight games over the past two seasons. Position Filled
Warroad Albert Hasbargen Steve Haataja Haataja, 42, was a standout defenseman at Mount Iron High School and for St. Cloud State University. He had been coaching in the Dassel-Cokato school system. Hasbargen had been a head coach for the Warriors for the past seven seasons, the first four as a co-head coach first with Bruce Olson and then with Dennis Fermoyle. Warroad went 161-44-6 and reached the state Class 1A tournament five times in Hasbargen's seven years. The Warriors won the state Class 1A title in 2005. Position Filled
Waseca Chris Prescott Jim Ferch Ferch, a youth hockey coach for 10 years in the Waseca program, is also a soccer coach. Prescott guided the Bluejays to a 34-30-0 record in three seasons. Position Filled
Wayzata Carl Davis Pat O'Leary O’Leary, Davis' assistant for the past three years, played for the University of Minnesota and is a trainer for Acceleration Minnesota. Davis resigned after 16 seasons guding the Trojans and 31 overall as a head coach. The Trojans, who were ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 2A for part of the season, went 20-6-2 and lost in double overtime in the Section 6AA title game to eventual state champion Eden Prairie. Position Filled
Windom Steve Clark Jon Ammerman Ammerman played in three state Class 2A tournaments at Moorhead and went on to play at St. Cloud State University. He also was hired for a social studies teaching position. Clark, Windom's head coach in all 12 seasons of the program's varsity existence, resigned in April. Windom went 4-18-0 last season. The Eagles lost to Fairmont in the opening round of the Section 3A playoffs. Position Filled