A hockey homecoming
FL graduates to represent Air Force against the Gophers Dec. 29
Two years ago, Paul Moberg and Trevor Waldoch spent their days sleeping in, playing video games and suiting up for junior league hockey games. Now, the Forest Lake graduates’ days consist of a strict regimen and difficult classes at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Twenty-one-year-old Moberg and 20-year-old Waldoch graduated high school as close friends, each with hopes of playing college hockey. Moberg, a 2009 graduate, played with the North Iowa Outlaws as a goalie for one year before moving to the Coulee Region Chill out of Onalaska, Wis. Waldoch, a defenseman, played for the Austin, (Minn.) Bruins after his 2010 graduation.
In December of 2010, the United States Air Force Academy approached each of the young men to offer them hockey scholarships to the military school which finished at the top of the Atlantic Hockey Conference in the 2011-12 season. Both committed. After three years apart Moberg and Waldoch are back in the same jerseys, this time representing the Air Force Falcons. This Saturday will be a homecoming as sorts as they are flying back to play the Minnesota Gophers.
With more than 50 supporters expected to be in attendance, the two are excited and nervous to be playing at Mariucci Arena.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Waldoch said. “I’ve been looking forward to it all year. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. It’s just going to be unreal.”
Waldoch’s mom, Diana, said she and Moberg’s mom, Kerry, still have a hard time believing that their sons wound up at the same school and will soon be playing together against the Gophers.
“It’s such a small world,” Diana said. “A couple of years ago I never thought we would be in this boat, but here we are. It’s just neat.”
The duo became close through hockey in Forest Lake and they, along with high school friend Danny Fick, now a defenseman at Harvard, were together more often than not.
Although Waldoch committed to the Falcons first, Moberg was ready to leave the North American Hockey League on full scholarship at Air Force a year earlier. He began basic training in June of 2010, then school at the end of August. For Moberg, the scholarship and guaranteed-career opportunity in Colorado Springs were worth giving up a year of eligibility in junior hockey.
“It was so nice,” Moberg said. “My parents had already paid for so much for me, it was a good feeling knowing they wouldn’t have to worry.”
Waldoch is currently going through the rigors of being a freshman cadet, having completed basic training and undergoing the initiation exercises put in place to establish respect to ranks. Throughout the six weeks of basic training, Moberg sent Waldoch letters to see how he was holding up and offer words of encouragement, knowing firsthand the physical and mental strain of training. Diana Waldoch said she didn’t worry as much knowing Moberg was there with her son.
“The first year there you’re basically treated like scum on the bottom of your shoes,” she said. “But Paul wanted to warn him so he could go in with eyes wide open knowing what he would face, and Paul keeps telling him to look forward to second year where things get so much better. It’s nice having them both there.”
With hockey season is full swing, both cadets can focus mainly on classes and ice time, and put Air Force training on the back burner for the winter.
Moberg had limited time in net last year as a freshman, seeing action in games against Michigan State and American International College. He has yet to see time this season with a junior returning as the starter. Waldoch has appeared on the defensive lines in nine games, recording six shots on goal.
The duo is excited to return to their home state and see Forest Lake friends and family in the stands at Mariucci Arena for the 7:05 p.m. game versus Minnesota on Saturday, Dec. 29, then again on Sunday when the Falcons face Alabama-Huntsville at 4:05 p.m.