MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — You do not have to be drafted to make it to professional hockey.
Brennan Menell was small in junior high, standing about 5-feet-2-inches tall, but he loved hockey.
He got cut from teams, moved to Omaha his sophomore year in high school just to get a shot, which led to a long road and a contract from the Minnesota
Wild — for the kid that would not give up.
Menell played last season professionally for the Wild’s AHL team in Iowa.
“It’s kind of a long, crazy story,” Menell said.
A story that started with a kid who knew what he wanted to be.
“I love to play hockey and it’s everything I wanted to do since I was a kid,” he said. “When people ask what you want to do when you grow up, I say I want to be a professional hockey player.”
But his career was not trending well in Woodbury as a kid.
“I’ve been cut from plenty of teams, especially when I was younger. I mean, I don’t even worry about it though,” he said. “People develop late and I consider myself like a late bloomer.”
He played in Omaha and then in the junior leagues in Canada, fueled by his dream. But even after he hit his growth spurt and started to mature, his body was still not where it needed to be — not to achieve his goals.
So he came to train at Velocity Sports, where it is not unusual to see a group of NHL veterans gather on a given morning. He was hardly a specimen when he walked through the doors.
“I remember he came in at 209 pounds, and it wasn’t a good 209 pounds,” said Velocity Strength Coach Dan Meinz. “We got him down to 190 pounds by the time he left.”
And this is where he paid the price, a price he did not know was required for the next step.
“It was definitely a tough process. You know, just especially when you’re playing against older guys,” he said. “I just knew the level I wanted to be at. I needed, you know, my body to be in the right place to be able to perform.”
He now knocks on the NHL door, just a call away from the big leagues, and knowing he needs to believe in what has been.
“Trust the process,” he said. “It gets hard sometimes, but really if you stick with it, you know, you can do it.”
And knowing it’s now, in the off-season, where he might be writing his next ticket.
“He works hard every day, he’s a kid that’s quiet when he’s in here doing his work. He’s not goofing off. You tell him what to do, he’ll do it, he’ll get it done,” Meinz said.
It has worked well so far; a wild hockey ride that was all about a dream — one that is coming true every day.
“It just goes to show that anything can happen,” Menell said.