Luke Regner graduated from the University of Wisconsin two years ago with a degree in marketing and risk management, but the worlds of business and insurance can wait.
“Once you get in the hockey world, it’s tough to leave,” the St. Peter native said.
As a student, Regner worked with the Badgers’ hockey and football teams, doing video work, and his first job out of college was as the hockey operations director at Robert Morris University.
Although there’s an old saying about not being able to go home again, Regner is back in south-central Minnesota as the new director of hockey operations for the Minnesota State men’s team.
“College hockey, that’s where I’ve wanted to be,” said Regner, who started his new job on Monday. “There are only 60 (Division I) teams, so you don’t really get to choose where you end up. The timing and everything worked out right with this team. ...
“This program being where it is (success-wise) and getting the chance to be back at home is icing on the cake. I couldn’t pass that up.”
Regner’s duties include a lot of video work, including breaking down game film for practice preparation and scouting opponents. He’ll also handle team travel and community relations and monitor players’ academic progress.
“I look at it as trying to do everything behind the scenes to make life as easy as possible for the players and coaches so they can do what they need to do to be successful,” Regner said.
Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said Regner’s qualifications stood out as a candidate, regardless of where he grew up. Minnesota State’s opening came after Michael Benedict departed following one year with the program. Previously, Kevin Anderson spent six years with the Mavericks.
“He has incredible energy,” said Hastings, who spoke with both Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley and Wisconsin coach Tony Granato about Regner. “He’s a guy who’s all about making things better, and that’s what he has shown. I’m excited about what he brings to the program. ... He’s going to make us better.”
Regner was a three-year varsity hockey player in high school, playing forward for the Bulldogs, the co-op team of St. Peter, Le Sueur-Henderson and other communities now known as Minnesota River. He was a team captain as a senior in 2012-13.
Regner’s brother Andy was the goaltender for Minnesota River last season and backstopped the program’s first-ever run to the state tournament in March. Luke flew home from Pittsburgh, where Robert Morris is located, for the section championship game in Rochester.
Andy was also on the St. Peter baseball team, which also made it to state last spring, and will continue playing that sport with Minnesota State. He’ll be a freshman at the university this year.
Luke said he’s excited to be in the same place as his brother.
“It’s something we joked about, and it actually happened,” he said.
Regner had a good learning experience at Robert Morris working for Schooley, saying, “I couldn’t have been in a better spot my first two years to learn the gig.”
As he moved in to the office suite in the Brose Training Center, Regner was immediately impressed by Minnesota State’s set-up at the Mankato Civic Center. This summer was the first time he had seen the Mavericks’ facilities since they were upgraded in 2015. As a kid, he would attend the occasional MSU game there, and he also played a few games at the team’s former practice pad, All Seasons Arena.
“This is on par with anything in the country,” he said.
Regner is transitioning into the new job, but things will ramp up in a hurry, as players return to campus on Aug. 18.
He can’t wait.
“Once you get in, you do everything you can to stay in because it isn’t really a job,” he said.
For more college hockey coverage, read Shane Frederick’s Puckato blog and follow him on Twitter @puckato.