Article by Samantha Roering. Photo by Samantha Roering.

If you’ve ever arrived at the Herb Brooks Center early enough before a hockey game, you might’ve faced a scene of serenity. Huskies captain Dylan Anhorn has made it a pre-game ritual to stand on the bench, surveying the ice. He takes this moment to visualize and set intentions.

There’s certainly a lot on the mind of the fifth-year defenseman as he approaches his 100th collegiate game. From his first taste of college hockey at Union College to captaining the current squad of Huskies, he’s experienced a lot in the NCAA. His journey as a hockey player has had many twists and turns, taking him all across North America, but his story begins in Calgary, Alberta.

Growing up in Calgary, Dylan and his brother were often on the ice. Seeing the Calgary Flames go on their Stanley Cup run in 2004 sparked their love for the game. From then, it was history, and the brothers spent their days at outdoor rinks or playing mini sticks in the basement.

When it came time to play juniors, Anhorn became part of the Prince George Spruce Kings. He spent two seasons with the club, winning a championship in the second year. Playing in 41 postseason games and contributing with 21 playoff points is an experience that Anhorn can remember fondly.

“That was one of my best hockey memories for sure. Being part of a championship culture and competing in games when it matters most is what you live for,” Anhorn reminisced.

Following his time in Prince George, Dylan Anhorn began his college hockey career at Union College. Though one season was lost due to Covid-19, he spent three years there. Dylan cherished the time spent with the program and is grateful for the long-lasting friendships he made there. That made deciding to transfer difficult, but conversations with coaches and players from St. Cloud State helped him realize the program was right for him.

He was drawn to the down-to-earth mentality he saw from the team, along with the high competitive levels on the ice every night.

He was also intrigued by the team’s tournament history. A team with sixteen D-1 NCAA tournament appearances is exciting for any competitor. For Anhorn, the program’s lack of national championship win is just as fueling.

“It’s a pretty special opportunity to chase something like that in a town where they love hockey so much. That’s a really exciting thing that still motivates me today,” Anhorn explained.

His transition to the program went as well as he hoped. Dylan credited the leadership group for making everyone feel included on and off the ice. The atmosphere in the locker room was a key contributor to the team’s success.

For Anhorn, he found success on a personal level as well. In 23 games, he picked up 25 points from five goals and twenty assists. It was a career-high in collegiate points in a season that got cut short for him too soon.

The team was coming off a 7-3 win against the Denver Pioneers when Anhorn’s season came to a jarring halt. It was his 24th birthday, and the team wanted a sweep to celebrate. However, a game of sewer ball gone wrong had Dylan receive a season-ending surgery the following day.

“The first week, I was honestly just kind of in denial. I couldn’t believe my season was over and I wouldn’t be able to play or help the team win,” Anhorn said.

The athlete was left bedridden after the incident, spending his time watching Netflix and playing Mario Kart with his girlfriend. He watched the team win the Frozen Faceoff and make a run in the NCAA tournament from the stands instead of the ice. Though it hurt not to be able to play, it was special for him to see his teammates compete at such a high level.

After some time, he began the slow process of rehab. He took it one day at a time, listening to doctors and trying not to rush his recovery. He wanted to do whatever possible to be in the best condition for the upcoming season.

Before that, though, he had to make an important decision about the future of his career. He had professional hockey options available and could’ve moved on. It would have been hard to blame him if he wanted to leave the collegiate chapter behind after a sour end to the season, but that’s not the type of guy he is. He decided to stick around for a final season with SCSU to take care of unfinished business.

That character and determination is why he was named captain of the Huskies for the 2023-2024 season. On such a young team, it’s good to have guys like Dylan Anhorn, who can set a good example of what it means to be a Husky. While his on-ice abilities are impressive, it’s his mindset off of the ice that makes him a good leader.

“It was a massive honor for sure. When you look through some of the other captains of the program history, there’s some special names up there, so it means a lot that my teammates would view me that way,” Anhorn said.

Playing at such a high level of hockey can take a mental toll on anyone, and Anhorn tries to support his teammates when he can. He provides a listening ear for any guy struggling and wants to help in any way possible. Sometimes, it’s talking a teammate through an issue they’re facing. Other times, it’s as simple as giving a teammate a ride despite their chirps about a lack of legroom.

The team, as a whole, looks a little different this season, but the goal remains the same. Winning a national championship is something on the back of everyone’s minds. There have also been individual milestones circulating through the locker room, from hat tricks to goal streaks. This weekend will be especially memorable for Anhorn as he enters the series against the University of Minnesota Duluth at 99 career collegiate games.

“I’m just enjoying the moment, to be honest,” Anhorn said, “I have goals individually and we have big goals as a team, but you can’t achieve those in one day. You just come to the rink every day excited to be able to play hockey.”