A promising Packer hockey prospect
His name is Christian Lenzmeier, but everyone knows him as CJ. He's a multi-sport athlete in West Fargo who has quite the competitive streak. But there's one thing CJ loves to do above all else.
"He just wants to play hockey," CJ Lenzmeier's father, Mark, said.
Not only does the West Fargo sophomore like to play hockey, but he's darn good at it, too. So good, in fact, that CJ Lenzmeier took a trip to Rochester, N.Y., this July to participate in USA Hockey's Youth Select 15 development camp.
It was a big accomplishment for the 15-year-old; one made even bigger by the fact that it was his second straight year being invited to the week-long training event.
And CJ Lenzmeier was the only one chosen from this year's crop of West Fargo hockey prospects. Last year, he was one of five Packers who made the trip, the others being Brandon Tendeland, Conor Jonasson, Tyler Berginski and Nick Turner.
With first-year jitters out of the way, CJ Lenzmeier was better prepared for this year's Select camp.
"I felt a lot more confident; more eager to get out there," he said. "I was just kind of ready to play at that level."
Hit the tape
This year, CJ went on the trip solo, and Mark Lenzmeier said he knew his son was having a good time after receiving a call the first night.
"He said the first day he was skating down the ice, and someone passed him the puck and it was right on his stick," said Mark Lenzmeier.
"I didn't even know I was going to get the pass," CJ Lenzmeier said. "All of a sudden, I felt the tap."
That first day was a good sign that CJ was exactly where he needed to be. For the next week, the right winger put up a healthy four points, three of which were from goals, and learned a lot along the way. He also finished tied for 54th for most points scored at the camp.
USA Hockey Select camps take place each summer, and are designed to develop top skaters from across the country. Athletes are picked based on tryouts, and then get the chance to be evaluated by national and professional scouts, as well as college and junior recruiters.
Even though CJ's schedule consisted mainly of, "wake up, eat, practice, sleep, eat, play a game, hang out in the dorms," he said he never got bored. And he wasn't alone, as a friend, Cyril Nagurski of Bismarck, also qualified for the Select camp.
Nygurski and Lenzmeier know each other from their time spent as teammates on Under-14 Team North Dakota, which went to nationals last fall and came home with a bronze medal.
Currently participating in captains' practice twice a week with other Packer hockey players, CJ Lenzmeier said he took a lot away from his week in Rochester.
"I tried to get as much out of it as I could. Playing at that speed helped me, because I wasn't used to it. But doing so made me a better player," he said.
CJ Lenzmeier was a Bantam hockey player last winter, but plans to try out for West Fargo's varsity team this season. If he makes it, there's a good chance the he could make some noise on the ice for the Packers.
"He's already had offers from AAA hockey teams," Mark Lenzmeier said. "And he's the kind of kid where you never have to pressure him to do anything; he's very self-driven.
"Plus, he's having a blast."