Effertz paying off
The rise of Minot State’s hometown goalie standout
Opposing coaches can’t help but ask Minot State hockey head coach Wade Regier who the masked man patrolling the net and halting any would-be scorers is. He has good awareness. He has a strong glove hand. He’s composed.
And he’s only a sophomore.
Effertz, 22, has emerged as a certified game changer for the No. 11-ranked Minot State men’s hockey team this season. The 5-foot-9 goaltender boasts an unblemished record of 12-0 with 265 saves in his 13 games played thus far. He leads the ACHA Division I field in both save percentage (.950) and goals allowed per game (1.12).
Translation: he’s that dude.
“(Effertz) has been pretty remarkable,” Regier said. “He’s just been playing with such great confidence, and having a goalie like him that’s on fire is literally everything for us… The ceiling is so high for him because of his age.”
But, long before Effertz launched his breakout sophomore season, the young Minot native made a choice to live and breathe hockey.
Effertz and his two siblings, AJ and Hope, were born and raised in the Magic City. Their father, Bart Effertz, played junior hockey as a goaltender in Canada. AJ, who is four years older than Breydan, also was a goaltender throughout high school.
Breydan had his introduction to the family sport on his third birthday when his parents took him out to skate for the first time. From that point forward, the middle child spent his days working on his game with his older brother.
But, when AJ stopped playing hockey after high school, it was up to Breydan to take things a step further on his own.
“I always looked up to (my older brother),” Effertz said. “Once he decided to hang up the skates, it was kind of tough for me because I had to blaze my own trail instead of following in his footsteps.”
So, he did just that. After playing for Minot High School for three years and leading the Magicians to a 2015 state championship, Effertz packed his bags and moved to Minnesota to play for the Alexandria Blizzard, a NA3HL (North American Tier III Hockey League) team.
Living over 300 miles away from home, the then 20-year-old needed some time to adjust. With the overwhelming change in scenery and faces, Effertz turned to the one constant: hockey.
“I actually struggled with being away the first month or two,” Effertz said. “I’d never really been out of North Dakota. But hockey was almost like a safe haven. It really let me get my mind off of things, and it reminded me why I was there.”
Effertz didn’t disappoint in Alexandria, going 21-9 in his 2016-2017 season and recorded a .910 save percentage in the process. After two years with the Blizzard, Effertz made the decision to go to college.
Naturally, he already had a school in mind.
“Minot State was the first pick I had,” Effertz said. “It’s a premier team for this league, and you can’t really get any better hockey than (what is) there right now.”
Effertz had to practice his patience in his freshman season with the team as the Beavers leaned on a dynamic goaltender duo of then-junior Holden Kurtz and then-sophomore Joshua Bykowski.
Kurtz posted a 9-2 record in the regular season and led the nation with just 0.9 goals allowed per game. Not to be outdone, Bykowski boasted a perfect 18-0 record with a .926 save percentage.
Effertz made the most of his limited time on the ice by going 9-0 with a .926 save percentage, but the freshman took on a reserve role in the ACHA Division I National Tournament.
“(Effertz) came into a situation where we really had two kind of established goaltenders,” Regier said. “But he knew Josh (Bykowski) and Holden (Kurtz) were our No. 1 and No. 2, and he just kept working and taking advantage of his opportunities.”
That didn’t stop the new guy from finding other ways to help, though, as Effertz also blew his teammates away with his skills off the ice.
Having worked at Maysa Arena for a number of summers, Effertz became the go-to person for skate sharpening on the team.
“It’s a fine art, and (Effertz) is an absolute expert at it,” Regier said. “He started sharpening a lot of guys’ skates on the road and just did it without complaints. He’s been a great teammate on and off the ice since he got here.”
Although Effertz is still happy to sharpen some skates when asked to this season, he’s doing much more on the ice for the team this season. The second-year goaltender has made his impact on a number of contests and has earned his role as one of Minot State’s major contributors.
For a kid that grew up just down the road from Maysa Arena, that role holds a little extra significance.
“Anybody that knows the Beavers knows that we’re a Canadian-heavy team,” Effertz said. “To come in as a local kid and perform for my team is an awesome feeling at the end of the day. Getting to play in front of my family, my friends and my hometown every night is the best part.”
Still, Effertz has his sights on eventually taking his game beyond the streets of Minot.
The 22-year-old isn’t sure where he’ll be residing or what exactly he’ll be doing once he graduates in two years, but he is sure of one thing: He won’t be far from the ice.
“My dream is to make a career out of hockey,” Effertz said. “I hope I’ll get to play after I graduate, but whether it’s playing or coaching, this is what I want to do. Every step of my life has revolved around hockey, so I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.”
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