Hockey runs deep in the Mack family. Especially Beaver hockey.
For the last three years, Haley Mack has donned the same colors as her father Jason, scorer of one of the most memorable goals in Bemidji State history. Now in her senior year with the BSU women, Haley has already begun to leave her mark on the program.
Jason’s name will be forever linked with the game-winning overtime goal he netted in the 1994 NCAA Division II national title game against Alabama Huntsville. With that kind of family history, it’s no surprise Haley chose BSU, and she made that decision on her own.
“(My dad) always told me that it was up to me wherever I wanted to go,” Haley said. “But he always put it in the back of my head that Bemidji is a small, hidden gem and that it’s a great place to go to school and play hockey. … Everything about it he just really loved. And my mom (Kristie) actually went here, too. She got her education degree and they both loved it. It was a perfect fit.”
Haley arrived in Bemidji as a freshman in 2016-17 after spending three seasons playing for the Green Wave in her family’s native East Grand Forks before capping her high-school career by playing two seasons with the Minnesota Revolution in the Twin Cities.
In her sophomore season -- her final one in EGF -- Haley led the Green Wave to the Class A state title game. That was made possible by her goal in the second overtime of the Section 8A title game.
The goal conjured memories of her dad’s overtime heroics for the Beavers.
“I never really talked about that stuff a whole bunch,” Jason said. “But I know before they went to the state tournament when Haley was a sophomore we had a good talk about that and winning championships and scoring big goals. … That was a good memory.”
The coach of that 2014 East Grand Forks team? Only Jim Scanlan, Haley’s current coach with BSU.
Scanlan’s history with the Mack family goes way back. He hired Jason as an assistant coach when he took over as boys head coach with the Green Wave in 1996, two years before Haley was born.
“He was the first guy I called and asked if he was interested in being part of the staff,” Scanlan said. “Fortunately for me, he said yes. … But, you know, Haley’s been a dynamic scorer ever since going back to playing mites and peewees. Had she stayed at East Grand Forks, she would have been the all-time leading scorer without a question.”
Haley joined her former coach in Bemidji two years after he took over the program and hasn’t taken her foot off the gas. She led the Beavers in scoring with 25 points as a sophomore in 2017-18 when her 11 goals tied for the team lead. Haley missed 14 games due to injury last season, but she was back to full health ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.
“She’s just been a prolific scorer ever since I’ve known her,” Scanlan said. “And that hasn’t changed since she’s come here to Bemidji State.”
Her dad had a knack for scoring goals himself, tallying 42 over four seasons from 1990-94.
“I think we both play the game hard,” Jason said. “She’s got some pretty high end speed. I was pretty fast.”
The hockey gene has been inherited by Haley’s siblings as well. Her older sister Alexa, who also attends BSU, played at East Grand Forks before ACL tears ended her career.
Perhaps two more Macks could end up with the Beavers in the future. Younger brother Tanner guided the Green Wave to state as a senior last winter and is now playing junior hockey in Alberta. Sister CJ is about to embark on her sophomore season at East Grand Forks.
“We actually shoot pucks a lot in the summer together,” Haley said. “We play competitions every time we go home for Christmas break. We live on a golf course, so we head out to the pond there and play.”
Neighbors Tucker and Colton Poolman, currently of the Winnipeg Jets and North Dakota, respectively, would join the Macks on occasion.
“Once in a while they’d come out there, start the fire for us and we’ll all just kind of talk about hockey,” Haley said. “It’s just kind of in our blood.”
“(Hockey has) been a big part of our life,” Jason said. “We’ve all enjoyed it. We’ve always looked at it as good, fun times and good, fun family entertainment.”
As the curtain rises on her final season as a Beaver, Haley will remember to cherish the special connection she shares with her father.
“It’s actually pretty amazing,” Haley said. “It’s really cool to be able to have that opportunity to both play at the same college. It’s definitely something special. I’ll never take it for granted.”