The Perfect Fit: Team manager’s impact gives Detroit Lakes hockey something extra to play for

Logan Hilde is in his first year as a team manager with the Lakers

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — There is not a whole lot Logan Hilde doesn’t love about hockey

“Just the way the speed is, how people are able to move the puck, the amount of physicality there is in the game, it is just an amazing sport overall,” Hilde said.

Hilde lives with cerebral palsy, but even that couldn’t keep him off the ice at an early age.

While the time eventually came for his playing career to come to an end, hockey never left his heart.

When he got to high school, he connected with the team’s head coach, Ben Noah, and a new chapter of Hilde’s hockey career began.

“I was blown away with how much he knew about hockey and how much he loved being around the rink and we just had a great conversation,” Noah recalls.  “He is so smart and so I just knew it was a really good fit.”

Hilde’s role was simple – to attend games and practices and provide a sense of positive energy as the team’s manager.

Lucky for the Lakers, he was a natural.

“He has always been positive and he has always just been cheering us on,” senior defenseman Reed Benson said. “He has got a contagious smile and that brings our spirits up everyday and it is awesome to have him.”

“I thought that was pretty awesome. He would come in and talk to us before games, after games, in-between periods and it was really motivating,” senior forward Jackson Fields said.

With all the good Hilde brought to the program this year, the Lakers were determined to find a way to repay him.

“We wanted to do something special for him and he loves our team so much that we wanted to get him something to feel even more a part of it than he already is,” explained Noah.

Without Hilde knowing, the Lakers used part of the fundraising money they had made at the beginning of the season and purchased the perfect gift.

They worked with mobility sports, a company that makes sled hockey equipment for those with physical disabilities.

The team’s goal: to get Hilde back on the ice.

“I had no words, it is just like amazing,” Hilde said with a smile. “I wasn’t expecting them to do anything and honestly, they really didn’t have to do a whole lot for me because they have done a whole lot just bringing me in and letting me be a part of the DL hockey program.”

After the surprise, it was time to get Hilde on the ice, and he did not disappoint.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” assistant coach Jack Kippen said. “He’s got some dangles. He does this thing where he puts the puck underneath the sled back and forth and he has got a pretty hard shot. Ask any of our goalies.

“I didn’t know how he was going to use those little stick handles but he was really clean with them,” Fields said. “He made my hands look bad and I’ve been playing hockey since I was four.”

That day wasn’t just about seeing if Hilde had the skills; it was about something bigger than the game.

“It’s allowing these guys to see outside of themselves. In high school it is pretty easy to think about just your little bubble, but you can see it in their eyes and their expressions that they knew this is a big deal and how meaningful it was for Logan,” says Kippen.

By all accounts, the relationship between Hilde and the Lakers seems to be the perfect fit.

The team reaps the benefits of having someone like Hilde around.

“It gives us hope or meaning, like an extra meaning to play for,” says Fields. “Having someone like Logan who I can say I’m playing for him so he can enjoy the game of hockey and watch it, it is kind of cool to say.”

And Hilde gets the chance to keep playing and being a part of a sport that means the world to him.

“It’s my whole life. It’s been my whole life. It’s the best game that you could ever have played and I love it,” says Hilde.