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Scottsdale native, Bobcats alum Poole anxious for return to USPHL’s Mullets for 2022-23 season



The USPHL’s Minnesota Mullets have announced the return of veteran defenseman Austin Poole.

Poole posted five points (goal, four assists) in 35 games for the Mullets last season, including a short-handed assist.

Originally from Scottsdale, Poole traded the desert heat for the winter blizzards right around his time to play bantam, which he did for Eden Prairie at the 14U A level. Before that, he played for the Arizona Bobcats’ 14U AAA team, similar to new Mullets’ recruit Ben Willcoxson, who played for the Bobcats’ 15U, 16U, and 18U teams.

Poole previously spent time in Des Moines, Iowa, with the Buccaneers program. He recorded 15 points (goal, 14 assists) at the 16U AAA and 18U AAA levels before heading back home to Minnesota to play for the Mullets.

Besides Poole himself, Mullets head coach Chris Walby might be one who is most longing for his return to the ice.

“I’m very excited to have another season with Austin,” Walby said. “He was great for us last year, and I’m excited to build on what we’ve started. Austin played in several big games last year and in crucial moments. His role increased all season long, and I see him getting a lot of ice this fall.”

Poole was given the opportunity to play in all three playoff games during his rookie season, where he recorded an assist. He also saw valuable ice time in other pivotal contests and tough rivalry matchups. The 2022-23 season will be a great place for him to pick up where he left off.

His hockey IQ is superb already and developing more every day.

“Austin sees the ice very well,” Walby said. “He makes a great first pass and became very comfortable carrying the puck as the season progressed.”

It is this comfortability and intelligence, coupled with his great skating ability, that will give Poole more opportunities to become a playmaker in the offensive zone.

Besides his on-ice play, Walby will rely on the seasoned player for his leadership qualities and experience.

“He is going to help anchor a young, but very promising, defensive core and bring his veteran leadership to the group,” said Walby.

With the handful of newly acquired defenders, Poole stands out as a player his teammates will surely look to him for leadership on the back end. It is a role he is willing, and able, to fill.

“(Being a veteran) means to me that I will have to step into the role of being a leader to other teammates and help them progress and have fun with their hockey careers no matter what their end goal is,” Poole said. “I am honored to have this role on a junior team and be a role model to help the rookies see what junior hockey is all about.”

What kind of leader will Poole be? He aims to be a leader like the veterans before him were.

“Last year on the Mullets, the veterans did a great job with helping me strive forward and become more confident with the puck with some constructive criticism along the way,” said Poole.

With his future and college on his mind, Poole will be working hard to make great strides in his game. As a defender, it is not always the score sheet that collegiate coaches look to in order to determine worth. It can often be the “eye test” that draws a coach to a player.

Walby isn’t worried about any of that.

“Austin’s going to have a great season for us and draw attention from the schools we target,” said Walby.

Photo/Kels Witt

— Brandon Laxson

(July 18, 2022)

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