Athlete of the week: MacLean Berglove, Elk River, hockey: Stellar stopper

MacLean Berglove made a decision at age eight that has served him well ever since. Nudged to pick a position in hockey to stick with, he chose goaltender. The Elk senior was asked this week what was the appeal in donning all that armor and facing a torrent of hard, flat little missiles every game. “Being the last line of defense,” he said. “Being one player who can change the game.”

Berglove started his second season as Elk River-Zimmerman’s stopper with a stellar performance that helped the Elks upset top-ranked, defending state champion Edina 3-1 at home last Saturday night, making 22 saves, most notably fighting off flurries of shots during two penalty kills.

“Mac was definitely a rock back there,” said coach Gordie Roberts. “He made a lot of tough saves and gave us a good chance to win.”

MacLean Berglove's devotion to hockey led him to give up another sport he's good at, football.

MacLean Berglove’s devotion to hockey led him to give up another sport he’s good at, football.

As a junior, Berglove helped an underclassman-dominated Elk team finish 16-11, including 12-4 in conference. He posted a 2.54 goals-against average and .895 save percentage, and had three straight shutouts late in the season for a total of five.

This year, Berglove is co-captain, with Chase Springman, of a team with high hopes.

“You could see his leadership this summer,” said Roberts, “both in the rink and the weight room, getting kids to buy into our program. Mac has a great passion for hockey. He is a good example of a kid coming through the youth program and paying his dues. After Anders Franke was the (Elks) No. 1 goalie four years, Mac won the job last year and did a solid job, and now he’s a senior and it’s his time to shine and enjoy the moment.”

Berglove also played football for as long as he’s played hockey, until this fall, when, as a member of an Elite League hockey team, he had to choose. Coming off a strong junior year in football, and being the grandson of longtime Elk football coach Terry McLean, that was not easy.

“It was real difficult, especially with my grandpa being a legend here,” said Berglove. “But I made the decision that would give me the best chance for my future (in hockey).”

The 6-foot, 185-pound Berglove helped the Elk gridders go 6-6 in 2012 and win their section championship. As the No. 3 back on a ground-pounding team, he carried 67 times for 390 yards (5.8 average) and three touchdowns, and led in receiving, nine catches for 102 yards and another TD.

Elite League, though, was worth the sacrifice. His team, which included Edina kids, won the International Invitational Tournament tournament in New Hope, beating some Eastern teams. He also grew up a little as a hockey player: “It taught me a lot about raising my competition level, because all the players are pretty good, and about being on my own. I made some new friends and played for some new coaches.”

Asked about the unique sports position he chose a decade ago, he reflects that it has its ups and downs.

“You have to be mentally tough. There are games where you don’t see the puck very well and you have to fight some shots off. Other days, you see it really well.”

About his current team, which was ranked in preseason and opened with a signature victory, Berglove said, “We feel we have a real good chance. We have a solid senior group, and when you’re seniors, you want it so much more because there’s no second chances after this.”

The win over Edina was “a great way to start,” he said. “There was a great atmosphere, and a lot of people there. But we feel we have 27, 28 more games to play to get what we want.”

THE BERGLOVE SCORECARD

Personal file — Age: 17 … Family: parents Ross and Patricia; brother Jake … Sports: hockey, formerly football … Academics: 3.7 GPA … Next year: probably juniors hockey, college later, chemical engineering

Favorite stuff — Class: math … Movie: “Happy Gilmore” … Food: Chipotle fare, especially chicken/steak burrito … Drink: Gatorade blue … Team: Oregon Ducks football … Athletes: Adrian Peterson, Jonathan Quick … Song: “Timber” by Pit Bull … Kickback activity: working out … Wants to visit: France and Italy

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