Michaud family adds to area's rich hockey traditionThe arrival of the Minnesota Wilderness junior hockey team has added a whole new dimension to “family” hockey in Cloquet.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
Through the years, a number of family names have become quite familiar to area hockey fans through participation in the Cloquet athletic program.
First as Cloquet, and now as Cloquet-Esko-Carlton, names like Langenbrunner, Ketola and Plante have added to one of the state’s greatest high school hockey traditions.
But the arrival of the Minnesota Wilderness junior hockey team has added a whole new dimension to “family” hockey in Cloquet.
Now, four members of the Michaud family – Beau, Weston and Dylan Michaud with the high school team and former Lumberjack Ben Michaud with the Wilderness – have allowed one of the area’s great family hockey traditions to continue in a whole new way.
Ben Michaud, who scored 34 points in 19 games in his final season with the Lumberjacks in 2010-11, is an alternate captain with this year’s Wilderness, for whom he has scored three goals and 18 points in 28 games this winter.
“He’s a tremendous young man,” Wilderness coach Rod Aldoff said. “He’s a good man and a good player and that is exactly what you want at this level.”
The same can be said for all three of Ben’s cousins, who play for Dave Esse’s Lumberjack varsity this season.
Senior Beau Michaud is CEC’s captain this year, with eight goals and 24 points through the team’s first eight games. That ties him in scoring with younger brother and linemate, Weston, who is in the top five in the state in goals with 13. Sophomore defenseman Dylan Michaud has chipped in with a goal and an assist from the blueline this year.
“They’re special, that family,” Esse said. “The bloodlines they’ve got are wonderful and that family would help anybody and everybody.”
The three brothers are the sons of Brian Michaud, who played for the Lumberjacks himself in the early 1980s and presently coaches the Bantam A program. Ben is the son of Tony Michaud.
The entire family has a history of helping with both programs.
“I’ve gotten to know them well this year through Tony and Brian, and they are great people,” Aldoff said. “They help us out tremendously. Tony handles our billets (finding host families for Wilderness players) and without that family, moving to Cloquet would have been twice as hard. They do a tremendous amount of work for the team and are a big hockey family in this area.”
The players are all known for playing a hard-nosed style.
“They’re tough,” Esse said. “The three brothers take after Brian, who was a tough player himself. Beau is a no-nonsense type of player and he’s a great captain. Weston sees the ice so well and Dylan is the biggest of the group and can play physically.”
Of the four young men, Ben has the only right-handed shot.
“When I had him, he was an explosive player who could do a lot of things well,” Esse added.
For their parts, the four Michauds are happy to keep playing in the same building.
“It’s real good to play here again,” Ben Michaud said. “It’s good to be home, it’s good to see people and it’s good to play for a coach like Rod Aldoff. He’s a no-nonsense guy and he knows his stuff.”
“It’s good to all be playing together,” Beau Michaud added. “We know our dads all went through the program and it’s great to be a part of it.”
“Generation to generation,” Weston Michaud added. “It’s fun because in practice I get to hit my brothers every once in awhile.”
“We talk in the house about what we need to work on,” Weston said. “Having us all together in one house helps with that and we know what we need to do to get better.”
Dylan Michaud also is aware of both the family tradition and making the step up to the varsity level.
“It’s a lot harder than As (bantams),” he said. “We have to work harder but it’s easier to have my brothers on the team too.”
Cloquet’s rich hockey history appealed to Aldoff when the Wilderness moved here. He has observed several Lumberjack practices and enjoys being around the CEC tradition.
“I’ve known about it since the early ’90s at UMD,” he said. “I played with Derek Plante and Rick Mrozik at UMD and they talked about the old Barn. You can really see that tradition now that I’ve been around it more. Great people, great community and it shows in the two arenas the people here have built.”
However, having a family hockey history in town that last three generations also brings added pressure.
“It’s hard work, representing the front of that jersey,” Beau Michaud said. “Our family has done it for a long time now and we want to keep up the tradition.”
“You’re still playing in your home rink and that brings back a lot of family memories,” Ben Michaud added. “But the front of the jersey, no matter where you play, is more important.”