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Former Raider new Wildcat hockey coach

<i>Bob Burrows photo</i> New Wildcat hockey coach Brooks Lockwood is familiar with the Big Rivers Conference and the rivalry between River Falls and Hudson. Lockwood played his high school hockey at Hudson and was a member of the Raiders' 2001 state championship team before playing four years at UW-Eau Claire.

When Brooks Lockwood takes his Wildcat hockey team to Hudson to face his alma mater Dec. 14, it will be his sixth career game as a head coach.

It will be Raider coach Mike Stoskopf's 500th.

"He's won a lot of games," Lockwood said about Stoskopf. "I've learned a lot from him."

Lockwood played his high school hockey for Stoskopf and was a junior on the Raiders' first state championship team in 2001. Last month he was named the new head hockey coach at River Falls, taking over for Nick Jenkins, who stepped down after two seasons. Lockwood said he's excited about his first coaching opportunity, but downplayed the significance of going up against his old coach and team in Hudson.

"Hudson and River Falls is always a big game, and I know how important it is for each team to beat the other," he said. "But as a coach, I'll just look at it as another game."

After taking the River Falls job, Lockwood said one of the first people he spoke to was Stoskopf.

"We've been talking a little bit and he's given me some advice on how to administer the team. He's got a lot more experience than me," Lockwood said. "He was a huge mentor to me. The biggest thing he taught me is: You have to be a good person and a good member of the community; things I'm going to try and bring to River Falls as well."

After graduating from Hudson High School in 2001, Lockwood spent a brief time playing junior hockey in Central Texas before playing at UW-Eau Claire from 2003-07.

"I realized the Division 1 thing probably wasn't an option, so I went to Eau Claire and got a great education and played four years," he said. "I couldn't have been happier."

He said he learned a lot from former Blugold coach Luke Strand, now head coach of the Sioux City Musketeers in the United States Hockey League.

"He was a great coach and a great influence on me," Lockwood said.

In addition to Stoskopf and Strand, Lockwood said former NHL player and UW-River Falls coach Dean Talafous has also been a role model.

"I worked at Total Hockey in Hudson with Dean for awhile and I picked up a lot of things from him," Lockwood said.

Lockwood said on the ice, he will stress the basic fundamentals.

"We want to do things correctly, but at the same time we want to be aggressive and forecheck and play hard," he said. "We want to forecheck but also come back defensively and possess the puck. We're committed to doing things the right way fundamentally."

He said off-the-ice development will be just as important.

"My coaching philosophy is to develop players as people within the community, so that after high school they can become better people," he said. "First and foremost is, as student-athletes, academics is the most important thing. But we also want to try and have fun. And it's a lot easier to have fun when you're winning."

He said he's seen plenty of reasons to be optimistic in the first week of practice.

"The last few days we've put them through some tougher drills and they've handled them quite well," he said. "All the kids are great to be around and have great attitudes."

Lockwood is engaged to another Hudson High School graduate, Markell Kapaun. His parents, Ron and Donna, live in River Falls. He and former Raider teammate Ben Bosworth own and operate Green Leaf Landscaping in Hudson.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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