Agate puckster earns place in Pointers' hall of fameWith a noticeable southern drawl, native Agate Mick Kempffer said the best part about his college hockey career was winning two national championships with his team, the University of Wisconsin-Steven’s Point Pointers.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
With a noticeable southern drawl, native Agate Mick Kempffer said the best part about his college hockey career was winning two national championships with his team, the University of Wisconsin-Steven’s Point Pointers.
Kempffer, 42, didn’t mention his three years as an All-American defenseman or his three First Team All-Northern Collegiate Hockey Association selections. He also didn’t say he still holds the record at UWSP for all-time goals scored by a defenseman and goals in one game by a defenseman (3). The team successes were his proudest moments, but it was the combination of team accomplishment and individual achievement that paved the way for his induction into the UWSP Athletic Hall of Fame this year.
Kempffer, like many Minnesota kids, learned skate just a few years after he learned to walk. He said he was just four when he started skating. In high school he played hockey on the Two Harbors High School team, an experience that laid the foundation for his future.
“[Two Harbors] gave me the work ethic to go after my goals to play college hockey,” Kempffer said.
After he graduated from high school, he went on to play for the Waterloo Black Hawks, a junior team based out of Waterloo, Ia. He chose UWSP for college, where he majored in business administration and played as a defenseman for their hockey team from 1990-94.
After his stellar career at UWSP, Kempffer’s career on ice continued, but he headed in an unusual direction to follow his hockey dreams: south. He played for the Charlotte (North Carolina) Checkers, the Jacksonville (Florida) Lizard Kings and finally the Columbus (Georgia) Cottonmouths.
He said Columbus—with a year-round average temperature of 76 degrees—loves its hockey, even if Georgians aren’t as familiar with the game’s rules as are Minnesotans. He speculated that it was the frequent fights on the ice that attracted many of fans in the south.
Kempffer ended his hockey career in 2005, but still resides in Columbus.
“I met my wife and haven’t left,” he said.
He now works as a firefighter, a career he said has something in common with hockey.
“(Playing hockey) gave you the aspect of depending on people in a team atmosphere,” he said referring to the cooperation that makes for an effective crew of firefighters.
Although Kempffer learned a lot from his years in hockey, he hasn’t been able to share his love of that particular sport with his sons, since the Georgia city he now calls home doesn’t offer hockey programs. Instead, he says he totes Ben, 10 and Sam, 8, around to soccer practice.
Kempffer formally accepted his induction to the UWSP Athletic Hall of Fame earlier this month. Two Harbors mayor Randy Bolen attended the ceremony and introduced Kempffer to the crowd.
“It was a privilege to have the mayor participate in the ceremony,” Kempffer said.
Kempffer travelled to Wisconsin to receive the honor and said the ceremony went smoothly. He was just a bit nervous about the acceptance speech, but according to Ann Ninneman, UWSP women’s hockey coach, the ceremony and speech went without a hitch.
“He had a great turnout of family and friends here. He had a lot of support,” Ninneman said.