Hard-working Hartmann: Bemidji State senior relishing increased role this season
BEMIDJI — Bemidji State’s hockey slogan, used in both recruiting pitches and marketing campaigns alike, is simple and effective.
“Nobody Outworks the Beavers.”
If that’s the case — and it usually is — then it’s very likely Matt Hartmann is the hardest-working player in college hockey.
The fifth-year senior from White Bear Lake finally scored his first collegiate goal Friday against Minnesota State Mankato — a redirect from teammate Graeme McCormack that found its way through MSU goalie Stephon Williams, much to the delight of everybody wearing green and white that evening.
“He’s a hard-working guy,” said Mitch Cain, Hartmann’s partner on the fourth line this season. “He always does the right things so it’s nice to see him finally get paid off for all his years of hard work.”
Goaltender Andrew Walsh could see the joy in his face when he skated over to Hartmann after the second-period goal.
“It was really something that was awesome to see,” Walsh said. “When he was coming around after he blew by the bench and came down… I was pretty happy for him.”
Hartmann, who had never had so much as a point in his previous four years at Bemidji State, added an assist Saturday to increase his career point total to two.
“Personally, I think it was bound to happen,” Hartmann said of his increased offensive success this season. “It was just a matter of when. This year, getting into a rhythm, playing in the first eight games, I think it was something that I had to stick with. I hope along the course of the year there’s many more to come.”
BSU head coach Tom Serratore had always seen Hartmann’s work ethic even if he didn’t necessarily have a place for him in the everyday lineup.
“It’s especially nice to see Matt get some offense generated,” he said. “He’s just a world-class kid. He works his tail off and he’ll do anything to help the team. It’s nice to see him get rewarded for his perseverance and his hard work here at Bemidji State.
“He’s a Beaver through and through.”
Hartmann arrived in Bemidji in 2009-10 and saw action as a freshman, suiting up in 12 games for a team that went 23-10-4 and won a College Hockey America title before losing to Michigan in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
But then he saw his playing time decrease, playing in just two games in his sophomore year and five as a junior.
Last season — which would have been his senior season — looked promising.
But a shoulder injury in BSU’s first game of the regular season against Lake Superior State knocked Hartmann out for good.
He was able to take a medical redshirt and return this season. But playing through the shoulder issue and being confident enough has taken work — especially mentally.
“It was difficult,” Hartmann said. “It was pretty serious. When we opened up this year at St. Cloud it was the first time playing in a real game since then. I was kind of weary about how I was going to handle it.
“I like to play physical and I was hesitant about how it was going to hold up. But I think the more games I play the more I trust it. It’s just kind of dealing with the mental part.”
Perseverance paying off
Despite dealing with all the bumps and bruises all hockey players experience — and then some — Hartmann has played in all eight games this season.
“You have to be mentally prepared every week, every day in practice,” he said. “It’s something that I take pride in. I’ve always been a super-hard worker. I knew that if I did the little things right along the way something good is going to happen.
“I think it’s kind of rewarding this year that I’ve been in the lineup every game. I love that relief; that sensation that all the work I put in has kind of paid off.”
His teammates, too, have rewarded the soft-spoken yet thoughtful senior with the ultimate honor — the role as assistant captain.
“He was one of the guys we thought was a really good leader on and off the ice,” Walsh said. “Hasn’t gotten in the lineup a lot throughout his career but it really doesn’t affect him. He shows up every day and battles every day, so he’s a good guy to have as a leader, that’s for sure.”
“The guy just lives and breathes respect,” Cain added. “We have a lot of young guys on this team. We all respect him so we know that he’s going to bring it on and off the ice.”
Hartmann may not be the most talkative guy in the locker room, but his teammates know he’s a valuable resource for advice. It’s the part of the job Hartmann values the most.
“I like to mentor the young freshman coming in. Part of being a captain is showing how we prepare and how we practice, what our expectations are for them,” he said. “It’s a good role for me and you’ve just gotta keep trying to keep driving home what we’re trying to get across and how we need to play night in and night out.”