Athlete of the week: Anders Franke, Elk River, hockey: Four-year term

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Like a president, Anders Franke is serving a four-year term as Elk River goalie. He was well-prepared as soon as he took office even though ninth grade was the first time he ever wore an Elk uniform at any level. The 5-foot-7, 155-pound one-sport athlete has made all-conference every year he’s played, and is currently enjoying his best season.

“I played for a Triple A team called the Wisconsin Fire from fourth to eighth grade,” said Franke, “so I could get as many games as possible and go a lot of places.”

Anders Franke has started over 100 games for the Elks and made all-conference since ninth grade. (Photo by Bob Burley)

That meant a 90-minute drive twice a week to Somerset, WI, for practices, plus once a week to Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, for some great experiences with the Fire, including one huge peewees tournament in Quebec where the crowds were up to 18,000.

“My parents were totally on board,” said Franke. “My dad, and his brothers, all played hockey for St. Cloud Tech.”

Ironically, Franke’s first high school start came against Tech, and the Elks won 3-1. That was the second game of the year. Franke was little and young and new, but coach Tony Sarsland was impressed enough to stick him right into the fray.

“It was a little frightening, the way he handed the job to me that soon,” said Franke, who nonetheless has started 103 of 106 games since then. He has a 2.33 career goals-against average, 19 shutouts, .911 save percentage, and a 56-40-7 record.

His goalie coach the first three years was Mike Siebert, and Donny Stevens took over this year.

Franke, a Zimmerman student, is a co-captain along with defenseman Nick McCormack.

“There is a reason why Anders has a ‘C’ on his shoulder,” said Stevens. “He brings a lot to this team.” Added coach Ben Gustafson: “Anders has been a rock for us, for a long time.”

As a freshman Franke had 2.11 goals-against, .912 percentage and 14-10-1record, and got invited to the elite Warren Strelow Goaltending Camp in Ann Arbor, MI. As a soph his stats were 2.22, .910 and 17-8-3. Last year his ledger was 2.76, .920 ad 11-14-1. In Franke’s senior season he has compiled a .924 save percentage, 2.12 goals-against and 14-8-2 record.

“He is as good as he is because he works his butt off,” said Stevens.  “He is  very focused, very quick, and he knows where to be when the puck get there.”

His career highlight came just last Saturday night, a 5-3 win over No. 3 ranked Maple Grove at home. He made 34 saves against a fierce-shooting, highly-skilled club, as the Elks beat a top-five team for the first time in his career and there was “so much emotion” after the Sarsland resignation that shocked players and dismayed him.

Franke is a butterfly style goalie, adept at dropping quickly to smother shots. He’s keenly aware that high-level goalies these days tend to be tall – “I always watch the NHL draft and they’re all about six-two, six-three” – and hopes to land in a D-I program anyway after juniors. His “main inspiration” is 5-foot-6 Jeff Lerg, who won the 2007 NCAA title with Michigan State.

Franke was just four when he started in hockey. He was a forward his first year but a goalie ever since. His dad and two uncles were forwards or defensemen. He chose goalie for the same reason may of them do: “The cool equipment, of course.”


Anders Franke

Personal file – Age: 18 … Family: parents Tim and Karen; brothers Bjorn, Kai, and Nils, all 9 … Sport: hockey … Academics: 3.2 GPA … Future plans: juniors hockey at Bismarck, ND, or Dubuque, Ia., then college; psychology major

Favorite staff — Class: World History … TV show:  “Seinfeld” … Movie: “Friday Night Lights” … Food: stir-fried chicken … Drink:  Blue Mountain Power ade … Reading: hockey books, especially “Save” … Team: Montreal Canadiens … Athlete: Carey Price … Kickbacks: fishing, golf … Place he’d like to visit: Montreal Forum