Esko’s Kuhlman was Born to be a Bulldog
Former C-E-C Standout now Starring at UMD
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As a kid growing up in Esko, Karson Kuhlman had a dream to play hockey at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
“UMD was always here,” said Kuhlman. “We always went to games as kids. It was a pretty obvious choice when the time came to choose a place to play college hockey.”
A standout for Cloquet–Esko–Carlton, Karson had the choice of playing for the Lumberjacks his senior year, or making the jump to the United States Hockey League. Karson chose to play for the Dubuque Fighting Saints, a decision he doesn’t regret.
“That senior year in Dubuque was a good development point in my life, on and off the ice,” said Kuhlman. “I got to play with older, stronger, better, more mature players. But also off the ice, I got to get away from home, it really helped me coming in to school here.”
After one more season in Dubuque, Karson joined the Bulldogs, and it didn’t take long for the freshman to gain UMD coach Scott Sandelin’s trust.
“Last year when he started, you know there’s some of the freshman nervousness,” said Sandelin. “But I think he grew last year even in the first couple weeks.”
Now, Sandelin calls the sophomore one of his most consistent players.
“He’s a 200 foot player, he’s responsible defensively,” said Sandelin. “I can go on and on. He’s really good at protecting the puck, he’s really good at body position, he’s strong over the puck, stick is always ready. You could video him and show kids and learn a lot.”
Bigger and stronger as a sophomore, Karson’s play is turning heads. However, he’s also driven by the fact all 30 National Hockey League teams passed him during the 2014 Entry Draft.
“There was nothing I could do, it was out of my hands, that’s the way I look at it,” said Kuhlman. “Obviously it was disappointing at the time, but I think I’ve moved past it. It fuels the fire. Every workout, every practice you want to go a little bit harder.”
If Karson keeps playing hard and developing, there will be plenty of teams looking to sign him once his UMD days are done.