MASON CITY — To understand Cameron Fagerlee as a hockey player, the stats tell enough of a story. To understand him as a person, look no further than the kind of teammate and friend he turned into when he arrived in Mason City this fall to play with the Bulls.
Fagerlee, who is in his rookie season with the Bulls, took it upon himself to take teammate Tucker Kruze under his wing. Kruze has Asperger’s Syndrome, and due to it, he’s unable to drive himself. That’s where Fagerlee, who also lives under the same roof as Kruze, came in as a sort of mentor.
“He’s doing a little bit more than most kids have to do in their junior career just accepting that challenge,” North Iowa coach Todd Sanden said. “And we talked with him about that before the season started and he was on board. It’s one of those things where every once in awhile you see good kids get good things, and he’s in that category.”
On the ice, Fagerlee has been outstanding for the Bulls.
Coming from a family which has hockey in its blood, Fagerlee, a St. Anthony, Minnesota, native, picked up a stick and skates as soon as he could walk.
At Totino-Grace High School in Fridley, Fagerlee honed his skills and did enough to earn a tryout with the Bulls. That’s where he got the immediate attention of Sanden and the coaching staff.
“We really didn’t understand what he could be until we saw him at that predraft, and he blew that thing up,” Sanden said. “He was the most noticeable player in that tryout including our veteran guys there.
“We couldn’t get him signed soon enough. I don’t know if he got overlooked by the (NAHL) and was a little pissed, but then we showed him a little love, invited him to a camp and he came. He’s a kid right now that projecting him out, he has the ability. He should be a full-time player in the North American League.”
As the Bulls come out of the winter break with a game tonight at home against Rochester, Fagerlee has been arguably their most consistent player on a team which has yet to lose in regulation in 27 games.
He’s fifth on the team in points with 34 (12 goals and 22 assists) and he’s scored at least one point in all but two of his 24 games played. He kicked off his season with at least one point in 18 straight games.
He attributes the consistency to the work of his teammates.
“I’d say it’s honestly our team defense,” Fagerlee said. “We play great in the defensive end, and when our D can get the puck out of the zone, it just helps us create more offense and stay in their zone.”
Fagerlee plays on one of the Bulls’ top lines — they have two lines worthy of being their “first,” Sanden said — and has fed off the talent of fellow linemates and veterans Tyler Bump and Connor Clemons.
Considering his skill, it’s no surprise to Sanden that Fagerlee has put forth the first half of the season he has.
“He’s doing the work to put the points up and I think it’s pretty amazing for a first-year kid to have a start like that. I don’t think we’ve ever had rookie have a start like that,” the coach said.
“We’ve had some kids come out of the North American League who have ripped off extensive points for us, but him being a flat-out rooking and him coming out and scoring in 18 straight games … is there a little bit of luck involved? Probably on some nights there is, but you’re there and you’re getting it done.”