By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Max Gardiner went from Minnetonka High School to the Gophers to play hockey, but he made a rare decision.

He left the Gophers and went to the USHL after his freshman year.

He’s now in Dubuque with his eyes on a Big 10 future in the game.

Friday, through some Wild connections, he got to practice with his team at the Excel Energy Center – a thrill for some, but old hat for Gardiner, who played in a tournament there.

“It brings back some memories, definitely” he said.

Gardiner found his hockey mojo this year. A complete focus on the game can bring that out.

His coach says Gardiner has really progressed this year.

“He’s come a long way. He’s found a passion for the game again, and he’s become a dominant forward.”

Gardiner is not going back to the Gophers. He’s going to Penn State, where he will compete against Gophers in the Big 10.

“I went out there on a visit and, obviously, people know there’s a lot of history out there,” Gardiner said. “I think it should be a pretty good student body and fan base there.””

Gardiner also has someone to chase. His older brother Jake is making it in the NHL with Toronto. It’s some incentive for the kid who’s growing into his hockey potential.


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