Minnesota State captain Marc Michaelis opened last month’s IIHF World Championships in street clothes. While his German countrymen were racking up wins against the lesser hockey nations from Group A, he was in the press box gnashing his teeth.
Although Michaelis had represented Germany in the 2018 World Championships, he was the only NCAA player on the German roster in Slovakia this May, and as a lesser known commodity, he was relegated to practice player.
“It was hard for me at the beginning,” said Michaelis by phone from Mannheim, Germany. “I was a healthy scratch for the first two games. I was praying for the coach to give me a shot. I knew if he was going to give me my chance, I’m going to take advantage of it.
The MSU rising senior finally donned Germany’s gold, black and red sweater for their third game against France, though he didn’t log significant minutes. It wasn’t until Germany’s showdown with host nation Slovakia that Michaelis was placed on a line with two hockey pals from Mannheim. It was them that he started generating the offense that’s made him a WCHA star. Early in the second period of a scoreless contest, Michaelis found a seam in the Slovakia defense, received a slick pass from boyhood bud Markus Eisenschmid, and drove the puck into the back of the net.
From that point on, German coach Toni Soderholm kept the Mannheim line together, a line the World-Feed announcers called the “best on the team,” when Germany shocked eventual World Champion Finland. Once again, Michaelis opened the scoring in the upset victory, with assists coming from both homeboys Mattias Plachta and Eisenschmid. Not only was Michaelis finishing plays to help his country upset major hockey nations, but the Mavericks’ rising senior was getting a first-class education in professionalism during his IIHF sabbatical. This German national team had 10 players from the 2018 Olympic silver medal squad, in addition to Edmonton Oilers scoring star Leon Draisaitl.
“It was a really good learning experience,” said Michaelis, “to see how pro’s handle themselves on a daily basis, how they prepare.” Michaelis will wear the “C” for the Mavericks for the second straight season in 2019-20. He absorbed lessons in leadership from his Olympic heroes during their time together in Slovakia. “As a young player to come in, it was amazing to see how welcomed I was, and how good they took care of me. We got a lot of players that played a lot of games in the NHL. How they manage, how they lead our team is for sure going to have an impact on me being a leader for the Mavericks.”
Michaelis, the only European to wear the captain’s “C” in NCAA Division I hockey, has been an incredibly consistent scorer for the Mavs, amassing 118 points in 117 career games. His maturity on and off the ice makes him a jewel in the WCHA’s crown. “He’s an outstanding representative of the WCHA,” said commissioner Bill Robertson. “His play this past spring at the World Championships showed he can compete at the highest levels of hockey.”
He will be an NCAA four-year man, an indispensable asset for the Mavericks as they continue their bid to puncture the win-column in the NCAA tournament.
Once Michaelis’ college career concludes this spring, there is ample speculation about his professional prospects. The internet site Elite Prospects projects him to be, “one of the most sought-after NCAA free agents this spring.” But Michaelis is keeping his pro ambitions close to his vest. At this writing, he has not engaged in any discussions with an NHL club about attending a July development camp, and has not attended such a camp since the summer of 2017 with Nashville.
For the Mannheim resident who has represented Germany at four major IIHF World championships—U-18, U-20 and the 2018-19 Men’s World Championships, Michaelis might be content to return to the Fatherland and join his national team members who play in the DEL (Deutsch Elite League). In the meantime, fans in Mankato and the rest of the WCHA should make a point of seeing this classy forward ply his trade in the NCAA. World class talents like this don’t come around often.