“I played some early in the season and my playing time increased as the season progressed,” he recalled. “I started realizing I missed little things like spending the holidays with my family. Between juniors and college, I would be away from Minnesota for six years, and there was a five-year commitment to the Air Force after graduating as well. I came to realize I didn’t want to be away that long, especially at this point in my life.”
He started looking at colleges closer to home, particularly schools in the MIAC. “I had some friends from high school who were at Gustavus and they really liked it there,” David said. “I looked mostly at Gustavus and St. Thomas and liked both campuses. Gustavus just worked out better; there was no one deciding factor, just a series of things.”
Thus far in his three seasons at Gustavus, David has scored 122 points, the 19th highest total in school history. David is 11th among the GAC legends with 72 goals. He has won All-MIAC honors twice and is a lock to repeat this year, as he leads the league in scoring, goals and game-winning goals. David is a likely finalist for the National Player of the Year award, as he leads the nation in goals and goals per game and is third in overall scoring.
“David is a true All-American,” said Gustavus coach Brett Peterson. “He is having a terrific hockey career at Gustavus, but equally impressive to me is how well he is doing academically and how well he handles himself socially.”
David grew up in St Louis Park, an inner-ring suburb of the Twin Cities. He has two younger sisters. “Andrea is a senior at Luther College, where she plays soccer,” he stated. “Lisa is the best hockey player in the family. She is at St. Cloud State and plays there. She also played soccer in high school.”
Like his sisters, David attended St. Louis Park High, where he played golf as well as hockey. “I played soccer in ninth- and 10th-grades,” he said. “I was on the JV both years. I love the game, but gave it up to be able to focus on hockey.”
David was on the Orioles’ varsity golf team for four seasons, earning All-Conference honors his junior and senior years. He qualified for the State Meet as a senior and finished in the middle of the pack.
When he was young, his parents encouraged David to participate in sports. “I was five and my mom asked me if I wanted to try any sports, and I said hockey without knowing anything about the game,” he recounted. “So we signed me up for the St. Louis Park youth program.”
He played in the youth program through the first season of bantams. At that point, he and four classmates decided to skip their final season of bantams and play on the SLPHS varsity. David skated at forward on one of the top lines each of his four seasons. His first two seasons, the Orioles were a young team and struggled, losing in the first or second round of the playoffs.
The situation improved in his junior year. David set the school record for points in a season, as St. Louis Park reached the State Class 1A tourney. “We beat Blake in the Section final,” David said. “We lost to Smiley in the first round of State in overtime, and then lost in the consolation semifinals in overtime, too.”
In David’s senior year, SLP posted 20 wins in the regular season, but was upset by Spring Lake Park in Section play.
David earned All-Conference honors his freshman, junior and senior years and was Honorable Mention as a sophomore. He was named All-State Honorable Mention as a junior and All-State Third Team the following season. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune named David to its All-Metro Third Team following his junior season; he received Honorable Mention from the paper as a senior.
Away from sports, David was active in his church’s youth group. He also was a member of Athletes for Drug Awareness his junior and senior years.
Coming out of high school, David received an appointment to the Air Force Academy, but the hockey staff there felt he would benefit from playing juniors. David spent the season playing for the Central Texas Marshals in the North American Hockey League. The following spring, David was offered an appointment to AFA, but the coaches felt more time in juniors would be beneficial. David played with the New England Huskies in the Eastern Junior Hockey League. “We had a good team,” he said. “We made the playoffs but lost in the league semifinals.”
The following year, David committed to Air Force and was admitted through the hockey program. He saw the ice in 18 games, scoring a pair of assists. As the year progressed, he reached the decision that he wanted to be closer to home and he opted to transfer to Gustavus.
Last year, Gustavus again posted a 10-6-0 record in league play, which gave them a tie for second with St. Thomas. David was named to the All-MIAC Team, as he led the league in goals scored (13) and was among the leaders in points, assists and game-winning goals.
The Gusties caught fire in the postseason. First, they swept through the MIAC Playoffs, beating St. Thomas 3-1 and Hamline 5-2 for the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs. They downed UW-Superior 2-0 to reach the Final Four. They tipped UW-Stout 3-2 to advance to the championship game for the first time in school history. They lost to Neumann College 4-1 to end their dream season 19-11-0.
David finished the season with 26 goals and 15 assists. With 41 points, he ranked 28th nationally His goals per game average (0.87) ranked fourth in the nation and he was tied for sixth in the country with five game-winning goals. The American Hockey Coaches Association honored him by naming him to the All-American Third Team.
He was further honored as CoSDIDA/ESPN The Magazine named him to its Academic All-American Third Team. He is the first Gustavus hockey player to be so honored.
David was named MIAC Player of the Year and was named to the All-MIAC Team.
In the semifinals of the MIAC Playoffs, David scored two goals and had two assists as the Gusties defeated Augsburg 6-5 in four overtimes. His second goal forced overtime and the game went on to be the longest game in Division III history. The Gusties host St. Thomas in the championship game of the Playoffs on Wednesday.
Overall, Gustavus is 19-5-2. David has scored 29 goals with 21 assists, for 50 points. He leads the nation in goal scoring with a 1.08 goals per game average. He is third in the country with an average of 1.84 points per game and is tied for the national lead in game-winning goals with six. It is expected that David will be named a finalist for the National Player of the Year. His 29 goals tie him for the tenth most productive season in GAC history.
David was a finalist for the NCAA Skills Challenge, which is to be held during the Division I Frozen Four. He was one of 22 candidates from the West Region, and one of just two from Division III.
The long, arduous hockey season does not leave much time for other activities, but David finds time to volunteer with his church during the summer.
David is an Accounting major with a 3.83 GPA. He will graduate in May. This past summer, David interned with Cargill. They liked his work and offered him a position after he graduates. “I will be working in the Finance/Accounting department of their animal nutrition division,” he said.
For David, his choice of Gustavus has given him what he wanted out of college, and more. “The success we’ve had in hockey has been amazing,” he said. “The team is probably the best I’ve ever been on, unity-wise. Everyone gets along. I like the small-town feel of the community on campus. Gustavus has been a good place to get a good education, have fun and not be too stressful.”
[Photos are courtesy of the Gustavus Adolphus College Sports Information Office.]
The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) is widely respected as one of the premier conferences in nearly every sport competed in Division III. Year after year, the MIAC produces teams and individual student-athletes who excel in their given sport. At the same time, the MIAC schools maintain a reputation of commitment to academic excellence. This article is one in a series of spotlights on some of the young men and women who represent the league’s commitment to excellence, both in the classroom and athletics during the 2008-09 academic year.
This feature will be included in the "Profiles of Excellence 2009-2010" book which will be available for order at RDM Publishing. It will feature profiles of student-athletes from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, written by CSN’s "Mapping the MIAC" columnist Rich Mies.