For Larson, going from high school to junior hockey was the only choice.

Doug Larson - Second year of junior hockey with the Brookings Blizzard in North American Hockey League

CHS Class of 2016

Degree Plan - Pursue a degree in business

Career Hopes - A career in financial advising or as a sports agent

Other CHS Sports - Soccer and Golf

How did you decide to play hockey after high school?

    Ever since I was young watching UND and being close to there, I just wanted to play college hockey. Junior hockey is kind of the stepping stone for college hockey nowadays. Towards the end of my high school career, Brookings was the only team that was going to come let me play my last high school year. I wanted to get some experience and get a feel for the league. It was four hours from home so I came down and everything ended up working out and I’ve been here ever since. It’s kind of weird that I’m close to the end of the road. Kind of bitter sweet.

How did you decide between going to college and going to junior hockey?

    I wasn’t even thinking about college. I was dead set on junior hockey. It’s been my goal my entire life. I had it in my head that I was going to go play juniors and then go play college hockey after.

What did you notice as a big difference between playing in high school and playing in juniors?

    It’s definitely an enormous step from high school to juniors. It’s a lot more physical with a lot bigger guys and there’s a ton of good hockey players. That was really eye-opening me coming from Minnesota and realizing there are good players from everywhere. There are kids on my team from Florida and the Czech Republic. Literally all over the world.

What was your biggest accomplishment in high school sports?

    The state golf tournament as a team my junior year. That was the greatest moment for me.  

What is your biggest accomplishment in in junior hockey?

    That’s a tough question. We haven’t been very successful in Brookings to say the least. I would say making the top prospects list.

Who has been your favorite coach?

    I have had several good coaches through my high school career including crookston and the elite league. So it’s hard for me to pin point one coach as my favorite. I took advice and pieces from every single mentor I’ve had in hockey.

What did you notice as a big difference between playing in high school and playing in juniors?

    It’s definitely an enormous step from high school to juniors. It’s a lot more physical with a lot bigger guys and there’s a ton of good hockey players. That was really eye-opening me coming from Minnesota and realizing there are good players from everywhere. There are kids on my team from Florida and the Czech Republic. Literally all over the world.

How did you react to going to a new environment and meeting all new people?

    It’s really cool. Junior hockey is hard because we play 60 games in a season. Being able to show up every day, you get really close with the guys over seven months. You get close with a lot of strangers you otherwise never would’ve met. I’ve made a lot of good life-long buddies and I’ve gotten learn about how many different paths there are to one spot.

What are your living arrangements?

    There’s a bunch of families in Brookings that volunteer their house to players to move in. We have to pay a 350 dollar fee a month. Everything else is covered. It’s a pretty good setup because we only pay 350 dollars to live in a nice house and get fed.

What do you do in the offseason?

    Last year I came to Crookston and trained all summer in Grand Forks and then I worked for Total Lawn Care.

Do you take any classes during the season?

    Some kids do, but I don’t. It’s a fine line because we don’t start our eligibility sooner than we have to, but we also don’t want to be lackadaisical with our college classes. I just decided to focus strictly on hockey. I won’t start college until I’m 21, but so be it.

What surprised you at your first juniors practice?

    I’d say these guys were a lot older than I was. I was around nobody I knew. So I pretty much had to support myself. When I got here, my support was mainly over the telephone. That was probably the toughest part going to the rink and seeing strangers every day.

How do you handle the pressure of playing in junior hockey?

    It’s definitely a learning experience. It’s just like anything else in life. You have to show up and do well or their going to find somebody who will. It’s kind of a business and the coaches have no problems cutting guys and sending you to a different team. We’ve probably had 50 guys in and out of our team this year. It’s like a revolving door pretty much. Some guys get shipped around and some guys can’t handle the pressure and quit midseason. We’ve even had two assistant coaches quit this season. All you can really do is try to enjoy the moment and put in the work when you can and hope you do well.

How long did it take you to adapt to playing in juniors?

    I played 10 games before my junior career started. So when I came back, I was pretty comfortable and knew what was going on. Me and my captain are the only ones who have been here since we started. A lot of guys get sick of staying in the same spot for one year. Junior hockey is pretty repetitive and some guys can’t stand staying in the same spot.  

What do you miss about playing in Crookston?

    Being able to play at home in front of people who watched me grow up with all my life. Also being with friends that I grew up with going to school every day. The whole realm of high school hockey is a really cool thing. It’s definitely a new world when you leave that.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about playing junior hockey?

    I would say definitely come in with an open mind and be very aware of how many good players there are out there. Be aware that you’re in a different environment and you’re not the kid that everybody knew as the next big thing. When you come to juniors, you think you’re some big hot shot player because you were on your team before. But now, all the big dogs are together and on the same page as you. Be open to learning new things and meeting new people.

What is your goal after junior hockey?

    My goal is Division I, but I may go play Division III. I’m kind of waiting until our season ends to explore my options. I haven’t been in contact with any Division I schools in the last few months, but I’ve been talking to just about any Division III school in the country.

How do you plan to stay around the game once your playing career is over?

    I haven’t put much thought on what I plan to give back to the game for my future. For now, I plan on focusing on my college education and pursuing my career path.