Defenseman Judd Loewenstein has committed to play Division III hockey at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, giving up his final year of eligibility with the Kenai River Brown Bears.
“It’s probably one of the harder decisions I’ve had to make in my life,” Loewenstein said Thursday via cellphone. “It’s hard to leave my billet family, the coaching staff and the fans after everything they’ve done for me the past two years. It’s an amazing place.”
Loewenstein, son of Michael Loewenstein and Amy McGowan and billet son of Eric Trevino and Natalie Villegas, said St. Olaf allows him to get going on a solid education while continuing to play hockey.
“I’ve always been in love with the game of hockey, and I still am,” Loewenstein said. “It’s time to think about the future, and it’s important to get a good education.”
Loewenstein will be an economics major with the goal of getting into business.
“Judd’s a very mature kid,” Kenai River head coach Geoff Beauparlant said. “He knows what he wants in life. He’s making a very informed choice, and we couldn’t be happier for him.”
At the same time, Beauparlant said the Bears will miss Loewenstein on the ice and in the locker room, because he has qualities that don’t show up on the stat sheet.
Loewenstein, a 5-foot-10, 185-pounder from Deerfield, Illinois, played in 52 games for the team this year, with 11 points and a minus-10. Last season, he played in 43 games and had five points and a minus-3.
“They are definitely getting a leader,” Beauparlant said. “He’s very well-spoken, educated and he has great common sense.
“He’s someone the younger guys always look to. It will be a loss not having him in the room.”
Loewenstein received the player’s player award this year, which is voted on by the team.
St. Olaf plays in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and is a very stable program. Sean Goldsworthy just finished his 17th season at the helm. He has one conference title. Before Goldsworthy, Whitey Aus was the coach for 20 years.
“They do things right,” Beauparlant said. “It’s a beautiful campus, a small school with solid academics. That’s what Judd was looking for, because I know academics are important to him.”
Loewenstein said he would love to try and come back to visit in the next two years.
“Thanks to the Brown Bears organization, staff, fans, teammates and billet family,” he said. “They all spent two years getting me to the place I am now. I wouldn’t be there without them.”