The Luther Bulldogs, from back, left to right: Joe Wanshura, Greg Goodman, Brandon Blommer, Mike McAlpin, Philip Klanderud, Mike Beyl, Matt Snaza, Ben Studley, (front row) Steve Miller, Lee Kirby, Matt Mannella, Blake Sorem, Connor Beaupre, Bart Archer, Ben Strathman, Justin Skyberg.
Hockey buff Bart Archer is a commercial fleet sales manager by day, but on Sunday nights, he leads a championship winning team of Luther Auto faithful out to the ice.
Brookdale Chevrolet’s Archer is what one might call a fanatic, a playing coach and manager of the Luther
Bulldogs. The 20-man squad features 15 current and former Luther employees of varying skill levels.
“We used to be just a bunch of Luther people. We’d scrimmage, have fun, give each other a hard time. Now that’s consolidated,” Archer explains. Ages range from 20 to 58. “Everybody gets along famously and it’s really a bunch a fun,” he said.
Winning can be a good time, as well, and that is what the Bulldogs did in the 2014 playoffs for the Men’s Minnesota Wild Adult Fall League, with victories in round two, the semi-finals and finals. “I look back at our path, I am convinced we won because we earned it,” said Archer, whose team plays at the National Sports Center in Blaine.
The coach estimates that 55 percent of the league players do it for the fun of it and 45 percent to win games. The Bulldogs team blends the stores together for one common goal, Archer explained.
Luther Bulldogs’ leading goal scorers for 2014 were Ben Strathman, 16 (Kia of Bloomington), Blake Sorem, 12 (Auto Performance Studio) and Connor Beaupre, 9.
Service Director Steve Miller from Luther Brookdale Toyota started playing pick up games with the initial group nine years ago. He said there’s a dramatic range in skill levels, and when the group started, there was no scorekeeping, and no officials. Groups ranged from 12 to 13 men, on up to 22.
Archer calls high school hockey games, and worked with Channel 9’s MyFox Hockey for six years. “Itwas nothing I went looking for, it just seemed to find me,” he said. And, he’s an associate publisher for Minnesota Hockey Magazine, a publication covering high school hockey.
Playing hockey is a bit of a forgotten dream for the fleet manager. A skater since he was five, the 54-year-old was blind-sided and got hurt in 1975 and never played high school hockey. “My premise is I’m just giving something back to a sport I have a lot of passion about. I’m not trying to fill any voids.”
The Luther Bulldogs underwent a name change in January, and became the Lynlake Brewers.
Luther hockey players: Mike Beyl, Joe Wanshura, Steve Miller, Connor Beaupre, Justin Skyberg, Bart Archer, Matt Snaza, Ben Strathman, Greg Goodman, Matt Mannella, Ben Studley, Brandon Bloomer, Blake Sorem, Mike McAlpin, Derek Rosstedt, Lee Kirby, Phil Klanderud, Jim Bernards, Mark Morcomb, Dan Thyken, Cody Haus, Ryan Schmitt, Mike Kanowitz, Nick Ciardelli, Mike Standsberry.