It’s exam week for high-school students across the United States, but not for Jack Lagerstrom. A senior at Shattuck St. Mary’s prep school in Faribault, Minnesota, Lagerstrom was exempt from his exams prior to graduation because he scored straight A’s throughout the semester. An impressive feat no matter who you are, but factor in an hour and a half of practice a day, a full schedule of 54 games and even a trip to Germany and Lagerstrom’s exemption is well earned.
“It’s great to have a group of guys with the same ambitions as you to do the best in hockey and academics,” Lagerstrom said. “Having an atmosphere like that really gives you an even bigger incentive to work as hard as you can. The teachers and coaches are very understanding of our schedules and work loads.”
While Shattuck St. Mary’s is a boarding school, Lagerstrom wasn’t far from his hometown of Edina, Minnesota, a short 45-minute drive north. That allowed his parents to visit regularly to watch his team play over the course of his four years there.
Despite being close to home, his schedule at school allowed him to become more independent in preparation for not only his time in Penticton, but in college as well.
“We have a thing called a blended schedule which means we have mandatory classes Tuesday and Thursday,” he explained. “Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s we have free time which forces us to manage our time. The schedule was put in place to prepare us for college, and I think it’s done a great job.”
The maturity level and straight A’s should come as no surprise considering Lagerstrom is committed to attend Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in the future, regularly listed as one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
On the ice, Lagerstrom as just as impressive. Playing for the Shattuck St. Mary’s midget prep team this past season, he scored 15 times and assisted on 34 others for 49 points in 54 games. The 6’2’’, 196-pound right hander likes being involved at both ends of the rink.
“I jump up in the play as much as I can and create scoring chances in the offensive zone,” he said. “But I also like to play shut-down defence. A great defence leads to good offence, and I try to emulate that into my play.”
It’s all those tools that made Lagerstrom a highly-recruited player over the course of the 2017-18 season, and he had no shortage of options on where to play before heading to college.
“I’ve always wanted to play hockey in college since academics are so important to me,” Lagerstrom said. “The WHL wasn’t an option for me to keep my NCAA eligibility, so it was between the USHL and Penticton. After coming up to visit the town, my decision was made.”
Lagerstrom was drafted by the Vancouver Giants in the WHL and the Tri-City Storm in the USHL, but the Vees felt like the best fit for him. Being from Minnesota, Lagerstrom is well aware about past Minnesota-born players to make their way north to Penticton.
“I know many players from Minnesota that have played in Penticton, and continuing the success of Minnesota natives there is something I definitely want to do,” he claimed. “When I got there I couldn’t get over how beautiful the city was. That along with the great facilities and coaching staff really made it an easy decision for me.”
Lagerstrom joins an impressive defence core for the Vees which includes a few returning players from 2017-18 along with some newcomers.
For the first time in his career Lagerstrom will be playing out of his home state, but his experience in time management at Shattuck will make the transition much easier he says.
“Shattuck was a home to me for four years and I’m going to miss it,” Lagerstrom admitted. “But the excitement I have for playing in Penticton next year will make the transition easier. The atmosphere at the game I was at was one of the best I’ve ever seen, especially in junior hockey. Having 3,000 dedicated fans a game is awesome and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
As if it wasn’t already obvious how dedicated he is to his schooling, Lagerstrom will continue to take online courses during his time in Penticton as he continues to build on an already-impressive resumé.
Vees fans will see him bring his A-game to the ice every night during the 2018-19 season.