The brain trust at SCSU Women's Hockey: Jinelle Siergie, Steve MacDonald & our former #9 Molly Engstrom. Photo courtesy St Cloud Athletics


We thought it might be fun to get some player input from the coach of one of our 2021 Whale Draft Picks. And our Amazing fourth round pick Hannah Bates of St Cloud State was coached most recently by former Pod Captain and Original Whale, Molly Engstrom. So we reached out to the former Olympian and World Champion to chat a little about Hannah, and catch up with Molly. When we asked Molly how things were going she told us  “Doing good, staying busy, it’s summer, I can’t complain. There’s that, and we’re able to recruit again, so it’s good! “ Molly is entering her third season as Assistant Coach at St Cloud and seems to be enjoying her multifaceted role as coach

“I am, definitely. Two seasons in, feel that I have a good groundwork set I guess, as you continue to learn everyday how they do things here. And then obviously you continue to evolve together as a staff. I like it here, and I like the team a lot. I think we do pretty well as a staff, so as a first NCAA job, it’s been a good experience so far.”

Molly has a solid background in the WCHA, as a player for Wisconsin and now coaching there at SCSU, we noted that If there’s a better conference in the country, we don’t know what it is. She  responded laughing

"Yeah, show me, right?” It’s really fun to be a part of because of the level of competition. And having played in it, it’s no different than feeling like home in any other respect. But even though you’re in the same conference, the look from Wisconsin vs SCSU is very different. You’re talking about a Big Ten school with Wisconsin vs SCSU where every other sport other than Men’s and Women’s hockey is Division II. So it’s a much different look and feel, but the best part is that once you get on the ice it doesn’t matter, you know. I think Mankato is the same way, and Bemidji for sure is. Obviously they don’t have DII hockey for women anywhere. Other than hockey it’s DII softball, DII basketball, the usual DII sports.”

 Molly mentioned recruiting in her opening remark, and we wondered about the mechanics of how that works. She  explained "We just try to juggle it within our staff. Sometimes I’ll go, sometimes Jinelle (associate Head Coach Siergiej) will go, or sometimes Steve (Head Coach Macdonald) will go. He’ll go less in season. Sometimes we have to miss our own games to go recruiting, that’s just part of it. Over time we’ve realized, at Saint Cloud at least, we have better success with western Canada, and Michigan. I think every school kind of feels out their niche. But I like going to whatever, wherever the kids are. Showcases can be tough though sometimes, because they can get chaotic.” 

Our Pod's 2021 Draft Pick, Hannah Bates, former defender for Coach Molly Engstrom for the SCSU Huskies.

Speaking about recruiting and scouting, one of the holes she has to fill is on the blueline, where our new defender Hannah Bates skated last season. Molly told us this about Hannah

 “I really liked working with her for two years. She got better, which is not a crazy thought. She put the work in, she was coachable, and she had the desire to learn. And she cared. She cared about her own development, and she cared about the team. So it was just a lot of fun to work with her, I would say. I’m going to miss her next year! " When we mentioned that Hannah had told us that Molly helped her develop the physicality of her game, she responded “Well, that’s the way I would say I played. When you watch defensemen, it’s about anytime you can take away time and space. Any successful defenseman that I’ve seen. Whenever you are playing on the defensive side of the puck and you can take away time and space and make it a little miserable for the offensive player. I think I was able to get them to kind of realize that, and once they did it and had success with it, they were like: Oh, maybe I’ll try that again! So that’s definitely something that I talked to our D about. Hannah’s not tall, but she can get to where she needs to be. A lot of times it’s harder for bigger players to play against smaller players, it’s just leverage. You can’t get under them, you know what I mean? They don’t take up as much room with their stick and their size, but they can get into spaces quickly and easily. So Hannah will be fine in terms of size, just like Shannon Doyle.” Fins Up to that thought!

Molly had mentioned she was staying busy, and one of the things she is tackling is some heavy duty and unique home renovation, and she's revealed

"So, my family has had this house on a lake. I grew up in the house, and then they bought the lot next door. And the house there has been gutted for a long time, and my parents had intended on doing a bed and breakfast, itused to be a little resort. But they never got around to it. So, I bought it from them, it’s a 100 year old house, and we put like a twelve foot addition on to it. So we’re straightening it up and getting it back on. It ‘s everything, we started with the guts, which is awesome, I didn’t really have to do any tear out, that was done years ago. So we’ve done the addition obviously, and it was log originally, so just getting it straightened up, because it settled over the years, of course. And it had a dirt floor, so we poured concrete, so we did everything. Framing to siding, windows, the whole thing. So who’s doing this, is me and my Dad, and one other guy. It’s so fun! My Dad used to build houses back in the day, before he got into the siding business. So he’s been very helpful and saved me a lot of money” she laughed.

We told Molly we are beginning to wonder what she can’t do. She laughed again and said,  “I think it’s part of my personality. I just want to keep learning about new stuff, and growing, so I always have something on my plate, for sure.” We wrapped things up with Molly by asking about the rest of her summer schedule. She explained

“I’m back in St Cloud a few days a week, but you see me on social media in Siren a lot, because on the weekends I’m able to zip back and forth. So from here on out we’re just continuing to recruit, working some camps out of MInnesota that Winny Brodt runs, where the kids play in the summer. Then I’m headed out to Boston, going to the Beantown Tournament next weekend. We’re just trying to wrap up our recruiting class 2022, and obviously make the contact with the 2023 kids. So our kids will start rolling into camp start of August, so that’s when we’ll start things up with the team." 

And 1,300 miles away in Danbury, one of her former charges, Hannah Bates, will be lacing them up for the Pod, Huskie to Whale as it were. We thank Molly for the updates, insight and scouting report, and wish her the best of luck in the upcoming and hopefully normal 2021-2022 season with Saint Cloud. Fins Up Forever to our original #9 Molly Engstrom!

Molly and one of her "helpers" planning out the next phase of construction on the lake house!