Kohls sets program’s career scoring mark
For Lucas Kohls, the scoring plays blend together. The Ranger senior has found the net and fed teammates routinely over a standout, three-year varsity career.
His first of two goals last Thursday is one he will never forget, though. Kohls beat his man down the right side of the home ice, took a pass out wide from center Brett Gravelle, and fired the puck past the White Bear Lake goalie to give the Rangers a lead against the top team in the conference.
It was the 119th point of his career, making Kohls the program’s all-time leading scorer.
“I was very aware of it,” the 18-year-old from Forest Lake says. “I just needed one more, so I was getting that one.”
Ranger head coach Aaron Forsythe feels the record was well-earned.
“I’m happy for Lucas. I know that this record means a lot to him,” Forsythe says. “He is a dynamic offensive player and is a threat to score on every shift.”
Growing in the game
Kohls first strapped on skates at age 5 and has never looked back. His love for the game was helped along by a skilled older brother, Isaac, who attended Hill-Murray and now plays for Niagara University.
The younger Kohls was a self-described late-bloomer and grew up in the local hockey association. He spent one year before Bantams on an advanced team out of Wisconsin, and has played the last two falls in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League.
Happy just to make the varsity squad in 2009-10, Kohls quickly took on a leading role on a team which got hot late in the year and won the Suburban East Conference in the final regular season game. Playing in front of an elite defense and goalie, Kohls and fellow sophomore CJ Franklin found themselves among the program’s all-time leaders in several single-season categories.
“Two sophomores being on the top-line, it was just really surprising,” Kohls says. “It just fell into place with two older kids, Danny [Fick] and Trevor [Waldoch], helping us along.”
Kohls saw his numbers drop slightly as a junior as the spotlight fell heavier on his shoulders, but he still produced 39 points, including 24 assists.
“People keyed in on me, but I like passing, too,” he says.
The return of Kohls, Franklin, Tommy Tyson and others had expectations sky-high for this season, but the team has been stuck around .500 all winter. Kohls has found his groove of late, and now has 18 goals and 20 assists on the season.
With the playoffs beckoning, he knows the time is now for Forest Lake to reach its potential.
“We just need to get better,” he says. “We’ve proved that when we work hard, we stick with teams.”
The record chase, however, was a welcome sidebar to the team’s up-and-down season. Kohls knew where he stood entering the season, and those around him kept him in the loop as he approached the mark. More updates will be coming, as Kohls is three away from Bryan Peltier’s all-time goals mark of 62 and one off the assist record of 65 set by Marty Rychley.
“I just wanted it so bad, and I finally got it…Points was the big one. I’m not too worried about the assists and goals [records]. But I do know how much I have,” he adds with a smile.
The 6-2, 190-pound forward plans to play juniors next year.
“I’m going to end up playing at college, but I just need to grow and get stronger and faster,” he says.
Passing the torch
The former record of 118 points stood for a dozen years since Peltier, a 2000 grad, set it at the end of his own three-year varsity career. He spent his junior season with the U.S. National Development Program and remains the only Ranger to receive that honor.
Peltier, a local real estate agent, still makes it to a few Ranger games each winter. He says Kohls sticks out to any observant eye.
“He’s a big kid, and it’s noticeable that he has skills and is talented,” Peltier says. “Obviously, when you put those two things together anything can happen.”
Peltier lost no sleep seeing his old mark fall.
“Records are meant to be broken, of course, so it’s great that it happened,” he says. “I’m happy for him.”