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Minnesota Whitecaps select East Grand Forks grad Mak Langei in first round of NWHL Draft

The Minnesota Whitecaps used the No. 6 overall pick to grab the steady defender and Bemidji State captain.

030321.S.BP.BSUWHKY Mak Langei.jpg
Bemidji State senior Mak Langei scans the ice Friday against St. Cloud State at the Sanford Center. (BSU photo)
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This spring, Mak Langei faced a tough decision.

On one hand, she received her acceptance into dental school at the University of Minnesota and was excited about that opportunity. On the other hand, the NCAA granted all players an additional year of college eligibility, and after four years at Bemidji State, the East Grand Forks Senior High graduate still wasn't ready to be done with her hockey playing career.

As it turns out, Langei will be able to do both.

The Minnesota Whitecaps selected Langei in the first round of the NWHL Draft on Tuesday night. Langei, a steady defenseman, went No. 6 overall.

Beginning this fall, Langei will simultaneously begin dental school and her pro hockey career in the Twin Cities.

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"It's just an unbelievable feeling to still get to play," Langei said. "To get the opportunity to still play hockey while going to dental school is something I'm very thankful and fortunate for."

Langei will provide the Whitecaps a steady presence on the blue line with some offensive upside. During her four-year Bemidji State career, Langei scored 11 goals and tallied 47 points, while blocking 304 shots. She was a fixture in the lineup, playing in 130 of Bemidji State's 131 games. She missed just one game as a junior.

"She was just the ultimate competitor," said Bemidji State coach Jim Scanlan, who also coached Langei at Senior High. "She had a great career. She led us in blocked shots, I don't know how many times, but it tells you what type of player she is. The best thing about Mak is she loved to play the game, loved to practice, loved everything about it. She was one of those players where that's why you coach. She was just a pleasure to be around every day because of her passion for the game. It was hard not to enjoy it when she was around."

Langei said she enjoyed playing at Bemidji State, the school her grandparents attended. Her grandfather played for the men's hockey team in the 1960s, and Langei wore her grandfather's old jersey during warmups before the Beavers' outdoor game in January 2019.

"I loved it," Langei said of her time in Bemidji. "I wouldn't trade it for the world. To be able to play for coach Scanlan again after playing for him a little bit in high school, and to play for (all the assistant coaches) was super cool. All the girls definitely made it worthwhile, and being only two hours from home, my parents and grandparents were able to come a lot."

Langei notified the Whitecaps of her plans to be in the Twin Cities attending dental school and learned before Tuesday's NWHL Draft that they planned to pick her, but she didn't know which round.

Langei will be reunited with her old Senior High and Bemidji State teammate, Haley Mack, when she joins the Whitecaps. Mack just completed her rookie year with Minnesota. Langei also will continue teaming up with Beaver classmate Tina Kampa, who was the Whitecaps' second-round pick.

Langei said she knows attending dental school while playing pro hockey will make for a demanding schedule.

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"I can't imagine I'll be doing anything else besides playing hockey and dental school," Langei said. "Maybe hunting or fishing every once in a while."

Even so, Langei is embracing the opportunity to play with the 2019 Isobel Cup winners.

"There's more to life than hockey, and that's one of the reasons I'm excited for dental school and to get involved in the profession I want to be in," she said. "But I'm not quite ready to be done (playing hockey). There's still a lot to learn, a lot of games I want to play in, and I'll hopefully be able to win a championship."

Related Topics: BEMIDJI STATE BEAVERS
Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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