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Heart and Sholl: Mattias Sholl drawing from family expertise for success in the crease

When you come out of the womb in the Sholl family, there’s a good chance you’ll wind up a goalie.

Mattias Sholl makes a save
Bemidji State goalie Mattias Sholl (30) makes a save in the third period against Lake Superior State on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer
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Editor’s note: This story is part one of two on Bemidji State men’s hockey goalie Mattias Sholl. Part two will appear online April 15.

BEMIDJI — When you come out of the womb in the Sholl family, there’s a good chance you’ll wind up a goalie.

“That's the whole joke. We call ourselves Sholly the goalie factory.”

That’s Brad Sholl, the father of the latest generation of Sholl goalies and a former netminder himself. He’s sired two more in Mattias, who currently starts between the pipes for the Bemidji State men’s hockey team, and Tomas, who plies the family trade for Italian team Val Pusteria in the Central European ICEHL.

But the origin of the family’s goaltending lineage dates back to Brad’s late father, Dan, who played hockey growing up in New York.

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“My dad started playing in New York,” Brad said. “He played in the streets, ball hockey originally, and then he got into ice. And then when we moved to California, I think he couldn't wait for the opportunity for one of the teams to need a goalie. (He) kind of threw me in, and I guess I did fairly well my first game – I got a shutout. And I was playing up a division, so it just kind of stuck and I stayed with it forever.”

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Dan Sholl (right) teaches a young Brad Sholl the finer points of goaltending.
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That early success portended a long career that extended to the All American Hockey League, Pacific Southwest Hockey League and even Pro Beach Hockey, a short-lived roller league that played on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles.

“It was played on the beach,” Brad said. “It was also on ESPN every week, and it was right next to the pier. They had live bands, and a lot of different guys from different pro levels were playing. It was kind of like we were rock stars on the beach, getting paid for a like five- or six-week kind of a tournament series.”

Tomas attended Brad’s games as a child, which further deepened his nascent interest in hockey – and in goaltending.

“I remember going to the games, and it was just super cool,” Tomas said. “They had the TV cameras there, and even though it's kind of this silly almost sideshow hockey, when you're a little kid and you're watching your dad play and they got ESPN filming the games, it's pretty cool to see. It kind of sparked a little bit of, ‘This is big-time hockey. They got the cameras here. They got a sideline reporter.’ So it was really fun to watch.”

030922.S.BP.BSUMHKY2 Mattias Sholl.jpg
Bemidji State goalie Mattias Sholl (30) stops the puck in the third period against Bowling Green in a CCHA quarterfinal game on Sunday, March 6, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer

Mattias grew his interest in the game by spending time around the Los Angeles Kings, which practiced at the Toyota Sports Center – where Brad was the general manager.

“He was able to become good friends or acquaintances with players around the rink,” Mattias said. “And I was able to get in close, maybe see the locker room a bit. Get behind the restricted gate, maybe, when I was able to watch a practice. When I was younger, I was basically living at the rink. So being around the NHL, the Kings, my favorite team, was just unbelievable. When you’re a kid, it’s probably the coolest thing that could happen to a hockey player.”

Being the general manager also meant Brad had extensive control of different groups’ time slots at the rink, which gave Mattias and Tomas all the hours they needed to develop their skills.

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“It was fortunate that he was able to help out with ice times, being that he had the perks there,” Mattias said. “So definitely it was big-time that he had that job there.”

Crease confidantes

040922.S.BP.BSUMHKY Tomas Sholl.jpg
Tomas Sholl readies for the puck while goaltending in a game for Val Pusteria of the ICEHL in Italy.
Contributed

As Tomas matriculated through his time in junior hockey and eventually signed to play collegiately at Bowling Green, he continually bestowed wisdom from his journey on Mattias. And by the time Mattias was ready to commit to a college himself, he had quite a leg up on the competition.

Before Tomas headed to Ohio to join the Falcons, he was already teaching Mattias what it took to be a college hockey player – by bringing him along to the gym and leading by example.

“I'm not going to lie to you – when I was younger, I didn't have as much of a drive to work out as maybe I should have,” Mattias said. “It's kind of why I was more of a late bloomer, probably, and my size too. So definitely getting in the gym with him when he was training to go into Bowling Green was a huge part of changing my habits a bit.”

Tomas also set a high example in the classroom at BGSU, where he frequently held a 4.0 GPA and finished his career with a cumulative 3.98. But it was those formative workouts that most established in Mattias’ mind the level of commitment necessary to play at the Division I level.

“We were doing all the workouts he had to do for his college,” Mattias said. “So around 16, 17 years old for me, and he's (six) years older than me. So it was a grind for sure. But it's definitely something I needed. Especially now going through it and giving that every day.”

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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